An Attempt At Reconstructing My Elementary School Class, Based On My Memory

February 1 - March 16 2013

It is a great pleasure for Galleri Nicolai Wallner to present An Attempt at Reconstructing my Elementary School Class, Based on my Memory with new works by Peter Land.

A large-scale installation, Playground, inhabits one of the exhibition spaces. The work depicts a playground with a boy and a girl sitting opposite to each other and slowly rolling a ball back and forth. While the two sculptures clearly portray children playing, the emotion that it evokes is not what one might ordinarily expect. The vacancy of expression gives them the sense of not conforming to the happy, carefree life we normally expect children to have, and the viewer is left to wonder why. Whether their solitude or uneasiness is as a result of an internal or external force, we can only assume that their adolescence is part of the explanation. Playground was exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2005 as part of the Danish Pavilion.

The second body of work is a series of eighteen watercolor drawings. The drawings depict children of an indeterminate age, all filled with the same melancholic, adult-like expression, again contrasting the naivety normally associated with youth. The children sit at school desks, with their hands obediently placed or folded on the desk in front of them. These drawings are a reference to Peter Land’s own experiences in school, where the teacher had complete control over the students’ behaviors and movements.

The artist’s feelings then, as well as now, was that as children, they were made to conform to an idea of how children should be that was the product of adult thinking rather than an expression of the individual, and had no bearing on their actual reality.

In both works we see the artist’s interest in the ideas that surrounds childhood and the idea of what it is to be a child. These marginalized existences become images of the artist’s own powerlessness and his attempt to come to terms with himself as an individual and as a social being within a group. In this way the two abovementioned works are connected to one another, and they can therefore be tied in to Land’s previous work with the exploration of the self.

Since the 90s, Peter Land has established himself as one of the key artists capturing central questions of modern existence and the role of the individual in an increasingly complex society. His work centers around absurdity and meaninglessness as basic conditions of human life, and he has subsequently inspired a generation of artists to come.

Peter Land has exhibited widely at galleries and museums in Europe and USA including Fundación Miró (Barcelona), Musée d’art moderne et contemporain (Geneva), The National Gallery of Denmark (Copenhagen), The Hayward Gallery (London), Louisiana Museum of Modern Art (Humlebæk), Moderna Museet (Stockholm), and Mori Art Museum (Tokyo). His work has also been exhibited at the Kwangju Biennale and the Venice Biennale. Land is permanently represented in various public collections including ARKEN, Museum of Modern Art (Ishøj), Museum of Modern Art (New York), Museum of Contemporary Art (Helsinki), The National Museum of Contemporary Art (Oslo), Louisiana Museum of Contemporary Art (Humlebæk), The National Gallery of Denmark (Copenhagen), ARoS Aarhus Museum of Art (Aarhus), and Musée national d’art moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris).

carrie emberlyn