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White Flight - Man to Man - Kap Atlantis / A Trilogy by Mats Hjelm

2003-09-14 to 2003-10-26

Fall season's first exhibit is a video trilogy by Swedish artist Mats Hjelm, born 1959. Having already received major international recognition and acclaim; the trilogy is for the first time shown in Sweden in its entirety.

A starting point for all three works in the trilogy is the documentary films made by the artist's father, filmmaker Lars Hjelm, during the 1960's. Originally shot for Swedish television, this footage is sampled and resourced in the films by Mats Hjelm, and then, in turn, undercut or counterpointed with Mats Hjelm's own footage as well as with an inventive and powerful sound track throughout the films.

In White Flight (1997), the Black Power-movement is a point of departure, presented through footage from a journey to Detroit in 1968 by Lars Hjelm. Mats Hjelm travels in his fathers footsteps and returns to the capital of the American automobile industry to revisit the places where the most extensive protests against racism in the history of the US took place. The new footage is woven together with footage from the 1960's; in conversations and interviews are questions of how the past influence and affect the present posed.

Man to Man (2000) continues to examine and uncover reasons for violence and injustice in our time. The narrative is cyclic; also in this work the artist combines his own footage with the black and white documentary material of his father from the 1960's. The Vietnam war is a key issue in this film, yet also Detroit, Chicago, Sweden and Portugal are visited. A shift appears, in relation to White Flight, in that Man to Man turns its focus towards social and political structures conducive to violence (or, rather, which produce violence, as former Black Panther leader Stokely Carmichael puts it in the film), as opposed to the fate of individuals.

Kap Atlantis (2002), the last work in the trilogy, moves at a more serene pace, yet with rhytm and emotional intensity. The film depicts an exhausted and tired planet; its title taken from Harry Martinsson's Aniara, a dystopic and futuristic vision of human civilization, where Kap Atlantis is an uninhabitable and deserted place on earth. This work consists primarily of recent footage – water, floods, a graveyard, cities at night... A central theme is the prospect for reconciliation and coexistence.

Mats Hjelm's trilogy is a filmic collage which weaves together histories and biographies, the individual and the collective, creating its own documentary poetics. In each work the artist makes use of two or three screens simultaneously where the narrative is both complicated and dissolved; with no definable beginning or end to any of the works. The non-linear narrative might be seen as an analogue to the non-chronological structure which characterizes the human mind and the mental workings of memory and its effects.

A richly illustrated catalogue, with essays by Silvia Eiblmayr, Lars O Ericsson and Jan-Erik Lundström has been produced - in collaboration with Galleri im Taxipalais, Innsbruck.