backdoor productions

Lovesick essay

Picture shows detail of screen shot from Monika Ross work for Lovesick “Acts of Love” at Landmark, Bergen Kunsthall.

lovesick was an exhibition addressing the theme of love in contemporary art. Love was here not only understood as something elating to emotions between men and women. In this exhibition the topic were dealt with in a much more complex way addressing minor and more complex narratives. In other words, it was not the great displays of love that played the principal role in lovesick, but the many small attempts to approach a subject that seems
Lovesick invited artists and theoreticians to work with questions relating to the subject of love in our times. Within this relation I am not thinking of love as one dimensional, pertaining to a spiritual emotion which springs up between two people. I am thinking more of a complex understanding of the concept which can imply everything from desire, eroticism, sex, attraction, intimacy, love at first sight, narcissism, devoted love, etc. Furthermore, this can be set in a likewise complex relation such as the mass media’s treatment of the issue, the development of new technologies such as the continuing effectiveness of the global communications network, science’s role in love, capitalism’s relation to it, politician’s role, the different cultures, AIDS’ influence, women’s lib, homo and bisexual lib, etc. I do not wish for this theme to be limited in any given direction, but will point out that the project should focus on the extensive treatment of this theme found in our present.

It is therefore not only this but a comprehensive secularised treatment of the concept of love can sometimes be set up against a more sensitive and sensible approach to it. Within this perspective is encompassed a love that can be abused, silenced to death or overly interpreted in order to undermine the individual’s need to cherish his or her own intimate love experiences. Or like Eva Illov proclaims in her article The lost innocence: “The idea that media shape our private dreams and acts of love has become a cliche, eagerly commented on by therapists and movies.”

Furthermore there has been pointed out endlessly how the earlier great stories from classical literature together with the objective truth have been lost. This is however not entirely negative, as it later opens up for marginalized stories and groups that earlier were repressed by these great historical volumes. Maybe it’s due time that we took Foucalt literally and wrote the history of love. This will not be one unique story, but rather the multiple stories, not the limiting and simplifying but the compounding and flexible, those without a fixed program, an ism, and a clear rational model. According to Roland Barthes, love’s own speech must create its own discourse and pictures that together can stand against the extreme trivializing and democratisation and therefore belittling, of the mass media’s treatment of love. There must be according to Barthes something helpless with this language, differentiating it from the assumed success that specially color advertisement’s seductive language. As Barthes further stresses: “There is something utterly lonely in love’s present discourse. No one supports it (..) it is separated from power and also separated from the mechanisms of power (science, knowledge, art) .”

In a more problematic light this theme could encompass the growth of feelings related to differences in power between the sexes, the diverse cultures and various social relations. As Victor Seidler points out, “Love and morality do not simply concern a realm of personal relationships in which we are supposedly free to act towards others as equals.” (ibid).

The concept of equality is strong in modern understanding of love, but it is especially unrealistic in how things work in a hierarchical society.

In classical art it is romantic love that is most commonly portrayed. In today’s art we see a far more complex picture of this theme where lovesickness, absence, longing, pain, eroticism, body, intimacy, etc. are also treated. Just as often we see in today’s art a wish to satirize the heaviness and pathos that art sometimes ends up in its treatment of big concepts. Today’s art is at times an example of the modest and more imperfect art which through installations, video, the Internet and performances, that jests both with the artist’s own references and society’s.
©Veronica Diesen


lovesick took place in Bergen, Norway, Opening in Bergen Kunsthall – Bergen Contemporary Art Centre on the 12th of October, 2001 and closed the 4th of November same year.
In addition to the exhibition in Bergen Contemporary Art Centre’s foyer and two rooms, Lovesick also featured a performance programme for Landmark.The exhibition furthermore appeared in several other locations in Bergen including gallery Fisk art, gallery temp where Grand Royal art showed their exhibition Love Tutorials, gallery Flexibox.

Some Lovesick artists

Camila Sposati

For Lovesick, the Brazilian born artist, Camila Sposati showed the video Talk to Me, a three minute long video that was filmed from a police helicopter, cruising over Sao Paolo during daytime through to the night. The surveillance pictures of the cityscape is furthermore accompanied by a soundtrack of a dialogue between a man and a woman who do not appear in the same frame of communication though in the same place. Spoken in Brazilian Portuguese, the dialogue us subtitled into English over the cityscape as part of the image.


Stills from Camila Sposati’s video “Talk to me”.

Fabienne Audeoud

French artist Fabienne Audeoud presented the video “She Prepared the Staging of her Own Death” where she reconstructed a Hollywood divas suicide. The diva, unable to make the transition from silent to sound films decides to make the suicide her most memorable performance. She overdoses on pills and alcohol, but not as planned she vomits, shits, falls and cracks her skull upon the toilet. Her last glamourous performance ends in a rather unpleasent disaster. This video follows a series of both staged live performances as well as video-performances where the artist explores the different emotional aspects related to murder and suicide in art. Audeoud was shortlisted for Becks Futures 2 in 2001 for her collaborative work with John Russel. She has also exhibited in group shows in Bregenzer Kunstvereinung, Camden Art Center, ICA, South London Gallery, and Tate Modern, Ormeaubath Gallery Belfast. This autumn she is showing in New York.

Olof Bjornsdottir



From the opening of Lovesick at Bergen Kunsthall and Bjornsdottir’s performance “Massage Makes the People come Together”. Photo: Bendik Johnsen

The Icelandic artist Bjornsdottir holds an MA from Goldsmiths College and has for a long time been interested in reflexology and performative intimacy. For Lovesick she instructed students in physiotherapy to massage the audience for the opening in an action called “Massage Makes the People Come Together.” She will invite visitors for a massage, working on the area beneficial for the release of emotion and creative imagination. While the recipient received the Beneficial Squeeze, they were also asked to write romantic stories on a laptop.

Monika Ross


“But aside from the function of the copy as a method of reproduction, a method of study and a source of solution to formal problems … there are other reasons for making copies. Perhaps the most profound is the desire to pay homage … to copy as an act of love.” – Michael Ayrton


Monika Ross at work with her “Act of Love”, translating an English version of Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” into Norwegian during the opening of Lovesick.
Monika Ross hanging the result of the digitally derived translations of Walter Benjamin’s work. Both photos: Bendik Johnsen

Monika Ross work deals with the production of text in relation to digital media. She appropriates theoretical texts by digitally translating them. She is again doing this by the use of her own handwriting. digitally transferring
For Lovesick, she presented a new work,”Act of Love(Norwegian translation)” where she for several hours would copy, into the virtual space of computer files Walter Benjamins famous essay “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” She made a copy of a translation in Norwegian, a language she has no knowledge of, using a wacom pad. Act of Love accumulated into a series of computer scripts as a drawing on the gallery wall. During the performance, print outs of the transcription in progress was available for visitors to take away and a cd- rom containing documents from the entire activity was available during the remaining period of the Lovesick exhibition.

Moss also used the opportunity to present her newly launched book Valentine, produced by the Milch Gallery, London. It is a bookwork developed from a series of performances which took place between 1994-1998. The book has an extensive inventory which has been contributed by various people over time.
Grand Royal Art


Grand Royal Art consisted of four female members from Sweden and Norway. They were Johanna Rylander, Anne Szefer Karlsen, Siri Ekker Svendsen and Heidi Nikolaysen. For Lovesick they made the show Love Turials that was shown at Gallery Temp. Love tutorials was divided into a four-part soundinstallation where all the members of the art group read extracts from different texts. Heidi read a series of histories from every day life, siri read a poetry about someone else, Johanna made a CD with birdsongs, and anne whispered a series of words into the ears of the listener. Their contribution to Lovesick also consisted of the video no-sex by Anne that looped sounds from a bed creeking. Johanna also made pictures with embroderies of her own hair with the title “Where is he who will sweep me off my feet.”

Sabine Glaßer


Picture shows detail from Glasser’s multiple art installation “Kiss”. Photo:Courtesy of the artist.

The German artist Sabine Glaßer, presented her work Kiss, a multiples project of over two hundred lips, or kisses, cast out of pink wax and screwed unto wall. The wax-sculpted kisses functioned not only as an installation, but functions also as a multiple art project, as they are all for sale.
Alongside these sculptures, she also showed a video about the meeting and the tension between herself and her girlfriend’s tongue.

Anita Ponton


Anita Ponton is a London-based video and performance artist who for several years has been running Hydra, a live art organisation. She has also participated at the Venice Biennale. For Lovesick, she did two different performances. The pictures shows the performance she did in Landmark the 13th of October called “Seen. Unsaid.” Photo:Bendik Johnsen

Pictures from the opening