Norwegian artist Marte Eknaes and American developer OA Biddle celebrate the successful merger of architecture and art. It is at the moment of this handshake that the deal is sealed- art, as Hans Haacke once pointed out, is the social lubricant of the business world. The pair is in disagreement on the meaning of the finished public sculpture, but does meaning matter if the finished product is agreeable enough? Plausibility and digestibility are the tools by which art is apprehended and, more importantly, sold.
There is clarity, but at no point are we sure about what this clarity is revealing. Public art serves as the source of a false populism to help mask the intense exclusion of the corporate field. (At this point there is a mistranslation between the Norwegian and English meanings of the term populist- in Norwegian it seems to mean something like right wing pandering. The word Folkelig – in the spirit of the people- is equivalent to the English notion of populism,) The artist/ developer duo set out to master this sleight of hand.
The scenario for the collaboration is that the artist was thrilled to be contacted while abroad by an American client, inviting her to create a festive piece to decorate the atrium of the food court of a corporate ‘campus’. Sadly, the artist was somewhat disappointed with the site of intervention, which turned out to be a salad/ baked potato bar adjacent to the copy machines. The offices were in a weird state of turmoil, with several levels of management reenacting scenes from the 1987 war fantasy Red Dawn between the cubicles. When she met with the developer to express her concern over the mercenary atmosphere of the office park, she was told not to worry, and that her art had in fact been interpreted by the clients to be symbolic of Norse dominance of ancient times. The artist decided that it was noble to utilize this contemporary reading of her history to inspire the business community to strive for excellence in their transactions.
See our online forum that features a conversation between O.A. BIDDLE and MARTE EKNAES about this work.
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