In the Norwegian Marte Aas´photographs, time seems to "stand still". Her ongoing series Close to Home consists of suspended moments from everyday events, settings and situations. There is nothing spectacular about these pictures. Nothing sensational, nothing dramatic.
In one of her videos, which can be described as belonging to this series of photographs, we see a football pitch in a park on the outskirts of Oslo. Suddenly, in the drizzling rain, someone runs across the pitch, and then vanishes into a clump of trees. The action is repeated over and over again in a video loop. Time, once again, seems to "stand still".
In paragraph 148 of The Society of the Spectacle (1967), Guy Debord writes: " The general time of human nondevelopment also has a complementary aspect, that of a consumable time which, on the basis of a determinate form of production, presents itself in the everyday life of society as a pseudo-cyclical time." He continues in paragraph 153: "Consumable pseudo-cyclical time is the time of the spectacle: in the narrow sense, as the time appropriate to the consumption of images, and, in the broadest sense, as the image of the consumption of time."
Debord points to a social phenomenon that, since the 1960´s, has had an even greater impact on our lives: the production of sensations. Through the media in particular, we are faced daily with pieces of meaninglessness that are blown up to disproportionate dimensions, and in the process, given both economic and social value. Karl Marx analysed how a serialised story in a daily newspaper created the desire to buy the newspaper day after day. This "delight in the new" has since accelerated to become sensationally spectacular stagings of real events, commodities, entertainments, etc.
Going back to Marte Aas´ photographs, they balance somewhere between coming across as documentary photographs and as staged works. Presumably, this is why the peculiar sense of stasis arises. A liberating sense of stasis, if we think of our contemporary spectacularised everyday existence.
And I suspect that we should keep the spectacle of the contemporary as a mental backdrop when we approach her pictures. The events in them do not appear to lead anywhere. She thus describes one of the circumstances of contemporary existence: we find ourselves caught up in a series of events, and accumulate a whole series of sensations, but we have no experience of these sensations, no perspective on them. We are spectators viewing the world, viewing our own lives.
Yet, at the same time, her pictures seem to occupy a certain "eye of the storm". They establish a distance from the big world of the spectacle. It is in the little world, the world "close to home", that we can perhaps attain a perspective on existence. Marte Aas´pictures provide solace for tired eyes
John Peter Nilsson from NU: The Nordic Art Review no. 1, 1999.
-translated by Michael Garner