Listening wall

Artist: may bente aronsen Tags: Permanent art


Martin West

Each of the seven new session halls built in what was formerly the courtyard of the Stockholm Law Court contains a distinct work by May Bente Aron­sen. These works are characterised by a sensitivity to the seriousness of court proceedings. But the angular shapes and perforated surfaces used by the artist also reveal a generous exuberance – they form structures that encourage an exploration that invites endless gazing. The lines billow, cross, twist and wind.

Some of the works seem to echo the prodi­giously rich decorative painting found in the old Law Court building. May Bente Aronsen has cop­ied details from these near-century-old painted garlands and leaf ornamentations and imbued them with new life with different materials. In this way, her work is also an attempt to reconcile the older, historical building with its recent extension. Eras are overlaid in a way that gives the basically simple, geometric compositions a remarkable dynamism. The works made of hanging, contour­ sawn boards also change in appearance depending on the direction from which they are seen. If we stand immediately facing them, they lose their vol­ume and appear as a number of vertical lines, but seen from the side they seem to bulge from the wall in strong, organic volumes.

This duality is not merely a clever play with the component shapes; in the law court setting they are also a comment on how one and the same event can appear different from different angles. In court, contradictory testimonies and opinions are weighed against one another. The parties rarely agree. May Bente Aronsen’s works ingeniously illustrate how the viewer’s specific position influ­ences the experience. A change of perspective leads to a new picture. What we see hides something as yet unseen. The use of displacement, shadows and reflected light in the art in the session halls lends itself to a symbolic reading as a contemplation on the difficulty of establishing one unequivocal, all­ embracing truth.

Love Jönsson