Thought incognito/Room for reflection

Artist: mats bigert och lars bergström Tags: Permanent art


Martin Wickström

Bigert och Bergström (Mats Bigert och Lars Bergström)

Mats Bigert and Lars Bergström have been working together as an artistic entity since they met at Stockholm’s Royal College of Art where they stud­ied from 1985 to 1990. They found that working together was stimulating and that it was easier to realize ideas and projects jointly. Bigert & Berg­ström often choose to work outside the conventional exhibition premises with installations, performances and video art. At an early stage they inter­ested themselves in how nature and culture are presented in the natural sciences and in the world of museums. By both critically analyzing this tradition while simultaneously making use of certain of the traditional attributes of exhibitions (display cases, podiums, etc.) they create an inter­esting short circuit in which they problematize the way in which art is dis­ played, but also the traditional conceptions of what a work of art actually is. Bigert & Bergström’s artistic projects contain both an absurd humour as well as cultural criticism that is based on a deeply humanist view of the world.

Their website ww.w is illustrated by a picture of a human brain. One half of the brain is marked “Think” and the other half “Sense”. These are keywords with regard to Bigert & Bergstrom’s attitude to art but they also give an indication of the sort of information to be found on their website. There are no straightforward indications as to how to find one’s way round the website; one has to experiment, to navigate by using the brain, as their instructions put it. The idea is to add some resistance, to approach the medium in a manner contrary to the usual efficiency and ease of use; something that is probably rather irritating to many rapid surfers on the Internet.

A Bigert & Bergstrom project that aroused a great deal of interest was their “Klimatkamrarna” (Climate chambers) from 1994. Visitors could enter different climate zones and physically experience those elements that are usually excluded from the white cube of the art gallery: light, steam, wind, cold and heat. These are the conditions of our life on earth but at their extremes they can pose a catastrophic threat, something that Bigert & Bergström have returned to in several projects. Having regard to regional and global threats to the ecological system, the theme is hardly less rel­evant today. How are we to protect ourselves from nature that we violate ourselves?

For the entrance hall of the newly erected Keyhuset at Linköping Univer­sity Bigert & Bergström have produced two corresponding works of art: “Tanke Inkognito” (Thought incognito) and “Rum for reflexion” (Room for reflection). There were not any larger expanses of floor or wall space in the entrance hall and this made integrating the art into the architecture all the more important.

“Tanke Inkognito” is built up like a globe in which the stand, made of rounded bentwood, acts as a bench to sit on. A brass rod supports an egg­ like form that rotates slowly on its own axle. The white ellipse is surround­ ed by a brass arch designed like a comic-strip balloon. The sculpture is sited in the middle of the entrance hall and has become a place where students meet casually and chat for a moment. While the balloon gently revolves above them, like a white space on the map, a terra incognita which is wait­ ing to be occupied by new ideas and thoughts.

“Rum for reflexion” consists of :fifteen globe-shaped light :fittings with circular photographs of different environments: a church interior, a park, an anatomy theatre, a library. The one hanging closest to the main entrance portrays the entrance hall itself; a dizzying discovery. The globes are in three sizes and they hang at different heights in the entrance hall and in the four surrounding light-wells. The photographs on the globes were tak­ en with a so-called fish-eye lens in which each motif is depicted from two directions. These were then transferred to acrylic plastic using screen-print­ ing. After that the plastic was heated and shaped into two hemispherical sections which were then joined together and :fitted with lighting on the inside. The photographed environments can be seen through 360 degrees and in this way they become reflections of different rooms. Lines have been engraved on the globes to show latitude and longitude, just as on a stan­dard globe.

The globes, with their photographic depictions, hover like planets around the centrally placed sculpture “Tanke Inkognito” and will, according to Bigert & Bergström’s written proposal, “in poetic fashion represent aspects of that world and that knowledge with which one can imagine filling the white ballons”. If one is to see all the globes one has to move about the entrance hall,  the stairs and the upper floor and one has constantly to change one’s viewpoint. As one moves the globes seem to change their positions relative to each other; an image of how people can perceive the world around them and a vision of how science and research can be conducted: openly, reflectively and with curiosity.

Patrik Förberg