The Art Game

Trine Ross

Art is not just about the work itself and the perception of it, though most of us are not used to seeing it that way. But before an artist gets his or her work to the point where it is actually percived by someone else a list of criterions most have been met – or strategies most have succeded, if you will. And this is where Kristian Hornsleths greatest talent lies because he really understands how to play the art game. Just look at the list of contributors to this book: a well chosen mix of stability and chok. I myself have been designated to contribute a little of both as I have been given free hands, even been encouraged to take a ciritical approach. Only someone who knows how to play this game of art would ask such a thing. Of course it is a fair question if the knowledge and skill of the game has any effect on the perception of the work. And the answer must be No. But it has to do with the very fundamental aspect of wether you will ever see the work or not. The artist who understands the game will be able to have his or her work exposed. And to be seen is the first step a work must accomplice. Kristian Hornsleth combines two easily understandable and familiar visual ways of expression: expressionism and advertisment. The first has been the banner motif of the Avantgarde through most of the 20. century, while the advertisement picture in art for the last half century or so has stood for an ambiguous and aggresive attitude towards the surrounding society and its good taste.
There is nothing wrong with these positions or the combination of them, which I actually think could be very interesting. But it requires Kristian Hornsleth to concentrate on the art work instead of starring himself blind at the game. Both as it is played outside the work (with connections and partys and media exposition) and inside the work itself. In this last category we find Kristian Hornsleth's use of his own name as a brand – which is actually very witty with references to both Miró and advertisement, but Hornsleth is, I believe, stuck in this visual stunt. It has become rutine and rutine is poison to art.
Only in a few cases does the brand and the picture work together and one such instance is 'Bowie Branded' (2001) where Kristian Hornsleth combines the cut through (hommage a Fontana?), his brand and the pass port-like portrait of David Bowie. Here the constallation becomes interesting because both brand, picture and Bowie point to identity as something very changeable, that we never the less try to hold on to and document.
But it doesn't go on like that. Only Hornsleth continues to add expressionism to (advertisment)photographs while having his eyes fixed on the game and an ironic distance that seems to belong in the past and which is even hindering him in a good infight with reality. And that's a shame. Becuase Hornsleth wants to get somewhere in this world and will most likeky get there too. So it might as well have happened with works that would want to do something to the world.

Trine Ross, Danish artcritic based in Copenhagen, 2005

This text was published the first time in the book Fuck You Art Lovers Forever,
Kristian von Hornsleth, Futilistic Publishing, Copenhagen 2005.

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