LINA NORELL: HOLIDAY
Lina Norell and her assistant Richard on site.
The exhibition Holiday (flyer) at Off the Hook took its point of departure in the contrasting settings of the exhibited images and the gallery itself. Though the images' focus on 'artificial' environments was laden with preconceptions of a tropical utopia, the gallery itself – the little red cottage with white corners – became emphasized as something not less stereotypical wherein its 'Swedishness' bordered on the exotic.
In the series of lightbox photographs Tropical Island I, Tropical Island II and Paradise Island (2008), the absurd, humouristic and poetic in different holiday resorts are framed. Tropical Island I & II are photographed in Germany; a one-hour train ride from Berlin. In the middle of 'nowhere' lies an enormous dome, one of the largest buildings on earth, built in the late 1990s as an aircraft hangar but never used for its original purpose. Instead, it now houses Europe's largest indoor tropical rainforest, pools, bars, a beach to tent on, its own miniature Angkor Wat and not to forget: a sunny sky à la the Truman Show. Paradise Island does not origin in the rainy forests in the outskirts of Berlin but is the name of a real island off the coast of Egypt. Containing nothing but sand, a bamboo ice cream kiosk and shiploads of tourists, the island has been crowned with a huge Hollywood-style sign proclaiming "Paradise".
It is not only the architectural environments themselves that lies at the bottom of Lina Norell's fascination, but also what they are telling us about ourselves, in the expectations, preconceptions and needs which may be the foundation of the intervention in, or creation of, these places.
A related set of questions arises in the series Emeryville (9 photoghraphs, 10x15 cm, 2008) in which a number of small Californian family houses are documented in a simple straightforward manner. The photographs of the houses, in their 'disneyesque', almost cartoonish architectural styles play with ideas of the simulacra. According to Jean Baudrillard (Simulations and Simulacra, 1981), "the generation by models of a real without origin" – copies of copies, often appears in artificial environments such as theme parks or as in the case of Tropical Island – holiday resorts. In the context of the houses of Emeryville, which in fact is the suburban neighbourhood that surrounds Disney-owned Pixar Studios outside San Francisco, the real buildings become intertwined with an image of American cartoon houses to an extent where one cannot longer know which is original and which is imitation.
The exhibition also contained a sound piece titled Dwelling (audio loop, 15 min, 2009).
First toast on the opening of the show
Pressklipp: (in swedish)
ABOUT LINA NORELL
Hometown: Karlstad, Sweden
Lives and works in London, UK and Oslo, Norway