We are pleased to present Runo Lagomarsino’s show Against My Ruins. The exhibition contains new and recent works placed in the whole gallery space. This will be Lagomarsino’s second solo show at Nils Stærk.
When entering the gallery, one is captured in between two states of light. The work to the right, They watched us for a very long time, consists of a grid of metal plates that embodies the traces of their use as illumination devices. On the opposite side, shining golden sheets cover a hanging wall, Abstracto El Dorado. The absence of the light bulbs that once inhabited the holes in the plates, and the dark traces left by their burning are now somehow illuminated (or maybe made even darker), by the brightness of the golden surface they face. For many years, day after day, these plates stood in the ceiling of the Pergamon Museum in Berlin, shedding light on artefacts brought back from the same sort of excursions that first searched for the El Dorado.
Lagomarsino collects objects and stories from his surroundings and through re-contextualizing he suggests new relations and meanings. He is interested in challenging, unpacking or putting into question discursive and historical mechanisms, representational systems that are traditionally used as tools to convey meaning, truths or political ideologies.
The work Pergamon (A Place in Things) reunites more than a hundred light bulbs and fluorescent tubes but none of them have been chosen by random. They have all illuminated different cultural treasures at The Pergamon Museum. The museum is regarded as one of the most important archaeological museums in the world, with an incredible collection with pieces such as The Pergamon Altar, The Market Gate of Miletus and The Ishtar Gate. These architectural superstructures do not only tell the story of past civilizations but also the story of western world colonization, power relations, desires and in a more current context the repatriation of cultural heritage.
When Lagomarsino appropriates these lights that previously illuminated the Pergamon collection as well as its visitors, he encourages the beholder in the gallery to reflect upon parts of the western civilization’s history. Light in itself contains connotations such as neutrality, purity, science and The Age of Enlightenment (light is even a part of the word). In this work all of these common connotations are being provoked and challenged. Here the fragility of the lamps contrasts with their ability to measure and to scrutinize the other. Through a renegotiation Pergamon (A Place in Things) offers the viewer the possibility of a new understanding of, not only the Pergamon collection but of all collections in cultural and archaeological museums in the world.
The work Abstracto El Dorado refers to the German-Mexican artist Mathias Goeritz’s work Abstracto En Dorado (1968). It focuses primarily on the colonization of Latin America and the myth of El Dorado, a utopic country in South America covered in gold and gems. The Spanish Conquistadores were motivated by this myth to do further exploration and conquests on the continent.
The action filmed in More delicate than the historians are the map maker’s colours contributes to a more nuanced understanding of the complex matter of colonization and post-colonization. In a gesture at once pathetic and glorious Lagomarsino and his father throw a dozen of eggs at a Columbus monument in Seville. The eggs had been transported illegally from South America to Spain. As in previous pieces such as Trans Atlantic and Crucero del Norte, this work not only speaks about travelling, exile, and geopolitics but also incorporates them in its own materiality and its own construction.
Runo Lagomarsino (1977, Lund, Sverige) lives and works in Malmö, Sweden, and São Paulo, Brazil. He holds a MFA from Malmö Art Academy (2003) and participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program, New York (2007-2008).
Lagomarsino has participated in several international exhibitions such as: For No Apparent Reason, Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo, Madrid (2013), the 30th São Paulo Biennal and the Liverpool Biennal (both in 2012), the 12th Istanbul Biennial and the Danish Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale (both 2011). Recent solo shows include: We have everything, but that’s all we have, Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo, This Thing called the state, Oslo Kunstförening, Oslo, For Each Light a Shadow, Ignacio Liprandi, Buenos Aires (all in 2013)