Johan Oberg

°1954
en

Johan Öberg, b. 1954. Research Secretary of the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts of the University of Gothenburg. Background in comparative literature, social anthropology and Russian Studies (mainly Bakhtin, whom he also likes to translate). Professional background in literary criticism, publishing (Sweden’s oldest cultural magazine Ord&Bild), literary translation and diplomacy (counsellor for culture at the Swedish Embassy to Moscow for many years). Publishes on Art & Research (the ArtMonitor magazine) and works with allocation of resources for artistic development projects within the Faculty, where he also works in seminar environments on safety & security, cultural heritage, urban issues, health issues etc.

comments

Exposition: Taking the Book Apart (01/01/2011) by Sarah Alford
Johan Oberg 21/11/2011 at 22:10

This exposition has a general artistic relevance through the strategy / poetics it employs to connect artistic effort to socio-political practice by actualizing strategies of the past. In this sense it is embedded in a Chicago activist tradition and it is relevant for the discussion of art and politics globally today. It is also relevant for the contemporary discussion about crafts, materiality and conceptuality. Last but not least it shows in nude so to say, what the relationship to history may be in material based and conceptually oriented artistic research.

 

There is a clear intention here to show art as research, and thus to try to comply with the JAR idea. It is difficult though to understand whether this is being done in a satisfying way from an ‘academic’ point of view, as references to previous research are scarce. Thus, is the light shed on the Art & Craft Movement ‘new’ in a scientific sense? Probably not. Instead, the research questions are translated into an artistic context which is visually, emotionally and politically strong, and suggestive. Alford indirectly shows how EGS' practice and some themes from Ruskin and Morris inform her own practice, as we can perceive it, in the making. And one could refer to Marx here — who is an indirect reference, and say that artistic research in this sense is more about changing the world, through active ‘mark making’, than about explaining it. In spite of the obvious difficulties in rendering textile art and fiber art — and ‘sensuous knowledge’ in general in digital media, Alford’s (re)composition of EGS’ prose, text documents, documentary and documenting photos and the way she handles specific symbols — printed matter, marks, pigeons etc. — is convincing as a specific, artistic way of thinking, reasoning, arguing about history, genre, art, politics and about the way of the world. Her relation to history is thus an embodied, dialogical one.

 

The summum of this practice is to be found in one of the re-presented works of Alford in this exposition The Bibliography Raincoat (2008), which is also Alford’s strongest dialogical and creative reply to Ellen Gates Starr’s dictum, and the title of the exposition: Taking the Book Apart. In this sense Alford’s exposition is as much research as art as it is art as research.


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