Børre Sæthre: Untitled (Wardenclyffe Tower). Installation at Mudam Luxembourg

The Norwegian artist Børre Sæthre is known for his art installations that remind the viewer of the settings of science-fiction films. His latest installation that has just opened at Mudam Luxembourg is called Untitled (Wardenclyffe Tower). The title is derived from the eponymous tower by the famous inventor Nikola Tesla. With the Wardenclyffe Tower, Tesla wanted to test the transmission of information and energy without connection cables. Tesla wasn’t able to complete his project because of financial problems and the tower was destroyed in 1917.

The installation at the Mudam is a black space that is dominated by a mirror dome and wall that reflect a stroboscobic light and an intense sound. The setting is completed by a head-like sculpture hanging from a rope and a table with monitor that shows a man hurling bolts.

The exhibition, curated by Clément Minighetti runs from February 11 to May 6, 2012.

Børre Sæthre: Untitled (Wardenclyffe Tower) (2012). Installation at Mudam Luxembourg. Opening reception, January 10, 2012.

PS: See also: Børre Sæthre at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center / MoMA, New York.

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“It is something you experience through and with all your senses, and it’s an experience that draws you in and surrounds you. In more common terms, the environments that Børre Sæthre builds could perhaps be described as a set design for a film – the difference is that you yourself, as a visitor, play the leading role, and there is no other storyboard for the narrative than the one that takes place in your own brain within the milieu Børre Sæthre provides using props that rapidly push the narrative in different directions… The narrative isn’t simply given, it doesn’t unfold before you like in the movies; it is a narrative based on you. Maybe that is the scariest sort of narrative.” Power Ekroth

The Norwegian artist Børre Sæthre mostly uses large-scale presentations to create atmospheres that shift between the technological ambience of science-fiction films, the luxurious and artificial aesthetic of showrooms and the uncanny realm of the subconscious. He combines quotes and subtle allusions with mental images and evocative sounds in order to form environments in which art, interior architecture and sound composition join together in fantastic, sometimes dreamlike ensembles. In his works, he draws not only on film history, but also on images from his Nordic homeland and his very personal childhood memories. Sometimes, defamiliarised stuffed animals such as a white unicorn or crows with glowing eyes give his works an air of fairytale enchantment.

For his exhibition at Mudam, Børre Sæthre has turned an entire room into a metaphorical inner world. The title Untitled (Wardenclyffe Tower) was inspired by the eponymous tower by Nikola Tesla, the inventor of the Tesla coil, among other things. In 1901 Tesla undertook the construction of a revolutionary radio broadcasting tower in Long Island (New York) in the hope of creating a worldwide system for transmitting information. The tower could also generate electrical energy without connection cables. Let down by his financiers who found this idea too generous, Tesla was unable to complete his project and the tower was destroyed in 1917.

The dominant blackness is counterpointed by a stroboscopic light, which, together with a sound backdrop, creates an intense atmosphere. A mirrored geodesic dome, like the famous monolith in Stanley Kubrick’s film 2001: A Space Odyssey, emanates a silent presence. The short video in which a young man hurls lightning bolts, like the young Zeus (or Marty McFly), also seems to lead us “back to the future”. “I’m not interested in constructing a narrative”, the artist says. “My aim is rather to evoke an uncanny feeling in the viewers – in such a way that they then, of course, make their own narrative, but one which is not mine.”

Børre Sæthre was born in 1967 in Oslo, Norway. He lives and works in New York and Oslo.

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