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There’s Something They’re Not Telling Us About Mary

About Åsa Ersmark's exhibition 'Heakte' at Galleri Arnstedt in Östra Karup.

We should really trip together. I’m telling you, this is the best possible lead-in to the text you are setting out to write. You’ve never tried! Let me break you into it, she says, the artist. The guiding rules, if you will, of this ‘shroom club or union for two that could possibly be, is laid out clear to me. I should preferably find myself at a current daily state of general ease and happiness (Green light - it’s a go!). I will however need to clear out six hours straight from my schedule for the “trip” because that’s the time it takes (Status: Uncertain. Do I even enjoy the luxury of that sort of time to spare? Or will this be my sure-fire excuse out of this?). Lastly, by all accounts, I should absolutely talk about it. It’s a most intentional pun I choose here to allude to, when saying that we could all just do with beating around the bush a little less.

Åsa Ersmark, painting while in process

Here’s the thing; The exhibition at Galleri Arnstedt puts forth a grid of paintings on paper of mushrooms. Mushrooms painted with the artist’s own menstrual blood and painted on the account of an interest of the “magical” effects that psychedelic mushrooms actually bear. In other words, here’s an exhibition which “savours” taboos right from the body and such relating to “induced” raptures of the mind and hauls it out of their neat clandestine hiding. This feels to me like a particular can of worms just waiting to erupt from the roots with feminist notions and queries about societal and moral constructs and I’m frankly not sure how much of it I can handle myself or how adrift from comfort I might be getting. It’s hardly the sort of subject matters I could cunningly exhaust with a few mere strokes of the pen. There are evident limitations in my biological systems effectively preventing a certain personal corporeal experience – ever and ever – and while I could’ve been here elaborating about the utter disbelief and realization about the number of amazing “trips” I’ve simply missed out on in my mid-thirties-something life, I seem to just have come short of copping out of action.

Installation view, Åsa Ersmark, 'Hekate, Galleri Arnstedt, 2020

A man and a premature novice. Such display of fraudulence from a certain view, getting to helm the pen. I’m however going be lenient and divert away from me. How about instead sinking teeth into the apparent travesty of this partially counter-cultural revelation housing in and exhibiting at a gallery, in the fancy and idyllic white middle-class bubble, away from the urban bustle that is Båstad? How erroneous is that for your mind? Totally illogical if you ask me. But then again part of the beauty of this unruly exhibition, rendered “legit” at face value by a natural motif as quaint as its geographic locale, is the aim it takes towards several senseless realities once you begin to probe the artist with some of the “whys” behind her choices. Like, why has the legitimacy of psychedelic mushrooms been totally nullified in contemporary society, while the state here locally owns and enjoys monopoly on alcoholic beverages, the intake of which is arguably more toxic and harvests far more lives. Just look moreover at art history and the kinship between masterful artistic creation and psychedelic experiences. It’s said that the Beatles created some of the most outstanding material of their back catalogue while “tripping”. You would think that alone perhaps would be enough to render the act (of this indulgence) its due visibility. But no. Not really. And yet, what do you suppose Strawberry Fields was about?

Åsa Ermark, 'Hekate's glasses' (performative object), photo credit: Jean-Baptiste Béranger

Staying on the bandwagon of “popular culture”, but with a more private twist; Why is it even, to be blunt, that sperm is so common in pornography while menstrual blood isn’t? I hadn’t even thought of it until the artist poignantly blurted it out in an artist video, I asked her to make. Popular culture certainly gave you sperm on Cameron Diaz’s face (ok – it was hair, but still) but hardly ever any menstrual fluid on the tip of the tongue of any of her male counterparts.

Pardon the faux and rhetoric ignorance, but who makes up these things about what applies and what does not? Somewhere it must be tied with the P factor in society. P corresponding to that abstraction which shall be smashed but has yet to truly happen, other than in manifestos. So much slow-boiling rebellion here as you can tell, and ALL you get is this grid of mushrooms; as poised, attractive and demure as needs to be for the words to even begin and attempt to simmer out.

Åsa Ersmark's exhibition 'Heakte' is on view until June 17 at Galleri Arnstedt in Östra Karup

Note: Åsa Ermark, 'Hekate's glasses' (performative object) is showing in Polyfoni at Galleri Thomas Wallner in Simris (Juni 13 - July 19)


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