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A frame is a frame is a frame

In Johan Strandahl's new exhibition at Area 52, things are exactly what they are. While at first glance appearing less, they are rather deceptively more. Twelve empty-looking frames are mounted serially along the walls. As such, what we know as “the wrapping” of art becomes the artwork itself. A continuation of Strandahl's 2013 chef d'oeuvre Kök, the show offers a critical look at the simplified and often romanticized view of today’s DIY (Do It Yourself) wave which is partly fueled by the Internet what with its information sharing culture.

While it appears possible today to reach results and achievements with seemingly less formal effort, Strandahl's practice presents itself as “slow-art” of sort, offering an approach where as much as truly possible derives as the direct labor of the artist himself. By making use of an IKEA kitchen as a point of reference, Kök saw Strandahl constructing a fully furnished kitchen from scratch; every single unit from tiles to kitchen appliances made by hand. In a similar fashion, the exhibited frames are entirely handmade; trees gathered from the artist’s own backyard offering material for frames and paper. Ultimately the frames at hand, like Strandahl’s previous project, stress the actual cost in time and labor required to uniquely produce the mundane everyday objects surrounding us, that are mass-produced and purchased at accessible price.

Also presented in the show are two recent installations; Juvelereran and Jag har tagit form och gjutit av allting som behövs för att ta form och gjuta av allting som behövs. Casted entirely in plaster, the former puts forth a fully equipped jeweler's worktable, symbolic of a profession marked by centuries-old craftsmanship. The latter presents a vitrine of plaster objects of the exact necessities that were used to create the former. In the midst a golden ring is openly seated in the worktable, while as a contrast, the vitrine confines cheap material as plaster. Walking through the show, questions regarding the construction of value and authenticity are inevitably evoked. The rationale behind the inverted process of Strandahl might puzzle but like that of a scientist at play, at the core of Strandahl’s practice appears to lie an unyielding eagerness to both be informed and inform on the essential nature of the many orchestrations that together make for quotidian life.

Johan Strandahl's A Frame Is a Frame Is a Frame is on view now through June 11 at Area52 Gallery (Nybrogatan 52) in Stockholm.

All images courtesy of Corina Wahlin <3.

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