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Artist portraits (12): Jonas Dahlberg
Frankfurter Rundschau | 10.06.2002
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++++ Jonas Dahlberg began studying architecture, but after some time it became clear to him that what interested him in the discipline was not being taught. To the present-day he is concerned with architecture and space from a psychological or political perspective. What does architecture do to the people living in it? What does it signify for the individual to move within a contemporary context, including an architectonic context? And so Dahlberg switched over to art and has remained true to built space.
However, normally he does not proceed from a real house, but from a self-made model which he films. At the Frankfurt Kunstverein the camera travels along a straight and apparently endless street. It is night-time. Lanterns set up on the edge of the road in a regular row throw their light onto the scenery, austere, strangely similar buildings with illuminated windows and entrances move by on the right and left along the path. On the wet cobblestones, the light is captured in a glimmer. A destination, an end cannot be distinguished. In its place, a dark hole opens up. There is nobody to be seen, not even a car parked on the side of the road or a bicycle leaning against the wall of a house. The whole thing gives the impression of sterility and a threatening perfection which is heightened even more by the black-and-white film and the lack of any sound.
One-Way Street seems to be thoroughly controlled, as if it had been generated by a computer. Dahlberg had built a model eight metres long by means of handicraft fiddling and pushed his camera through the model. No computer was to be seen anywhere. The impression of a never-ending street is achieved by joining the journeys of the camera back to front and assembling the whole thing into a loop.
The Stockholm artist is fascinated by the work on models instead of on real buildings since a model has the double significance as the representation of an idea and as an object in itself. A model is fiction and reality at one and the same time. Moreover, it represents a world created by the artist, although a very restricted world, in which he can live out his fantasies of omnipotence. Nothing can happen which he does not want to happen. Jonas Dahlberg does not make any illusions about the fact that this idea of unconditional control over life, although only in the form of an architectural model, is doomed to failure. For one thing obviously gets lost under so much controlled perfection: life itself.
Frankfurter Kunstverein, until 25 August. jdv

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