Mattias Härenstam

Closed Circuit (In the middle of Sweden)

Single Channel Video, 2011. 3 min 09 sec. Full-HD. PAL. Color. Stereo.
Computer Animation: Carl Granström and Kristian Mårtensson.

 The video shows a quiet residential street somewhere in Sweden. The constantly moving camera travels down the street, into a large pothole at the end, is "swallowed" by a huge chewing mouth and turns up on the same street again. This time the street is darker and the sky red. The camera goes down the street again, down the same pothole that this time leads to a giant intestine, which "we" are passed through until we are back on the street from the beginning and the loop starts over.
Watch the video.

 (...) The video "Closed circuit (After Peter Tillberg: In the middle of Sweden 1972-73)" is, as the title suggests, a paraphrase of the older artist's painting. Rows of houses are parked along a lead-gray street, which ends in a circular pothole. We are washed down the hole, through a mouth opening and carted around in a winding tunnel system and eventually spat out on the street again. The trek begins again. This time the journey ends with a plunge into something that looks like an anus. Again, we fall onto the street. It goes on like this. The organic chaos put together with the tenacity of middle-class suburbia turns into a surreal, ominous pulp. Now I start to think of Roy Andersson's "Songs From the Second Floor." Everything is familiar, and yet not.


 Excerpt from a review by Sara Arvidsson published at Swedish online artmagazine 12.04.2012.
Translated by B.R.
The full text is available here or as pdf-download (in Swedish) on the right.


(...) If we go further through the door and in the exhibition, we see the video work Closed Circuit, that symbolically and visually, outlines the concrete underground of the presumed perfection of middle-class suburbia: the camera moves through an average suburban street and down a hole in the pavement and further through a chattering mouth. We are thereafter led through a fleshy cavity - intestinal canals, perhaps - before we finally are out in the open again. We are now seeing the same suburban environment in red, as if the atmosphere of the street has taken on the color of the body's interior, before disappearing once again into the hole, this time without the teeth, until we are back at the first street scene - the work loops itself. (...)
The exhibition twists and turns effectively on the relationship between top and bottom, above and below, inside and out. This contortion of habitual postures and room functions is twisted through an underground motif we know from literature - from Alice in Wonderland, for example, Ludvig Holberg's Niels Klims' Journey to the Underworld or HG Wells' Time Machine (which probably is the most interesting parallel). When it comes to the montage of the body's inner and the suburban architecture, Härenstam's video resembles the key scene in David Lynch's Blue Velvet, where the camera goes from the image of a happy suburban world and into the ground, where a network of crawling insects is revealed. Any polished surface hides a seething, complex, darker, underside. In all these fictions an alternative version of the world, as we know it, is being revealed - its travesty, its subconscious. By creating a loop between the body's inner life and the suburban architecture, and joining the singular trauma with the generalized boredom, articulated as the non-place of the waiting room, Härenstam succeeds to stir up a conventional concept of normality. The world is not, he suggests, designed by Freudian structures with a clear distinction between the conscious and the unconscious, between lust and love, chaos and order - no, it is a far more complex fretwork, where the different levels penetrate and flow over and into each other.

Excerpts from a review by Kjetil Røed, published in Norwegian online art criticism forum Kunstkritikk 04.03.2011. The full text is available here or as pdf-download at the bottom of this page (in Norwegian only).

(...) The next room is the surreal continuation of Tunnelgatan. A film loop runs down a residential street to a hole in the asphalt that becomes a chasm, which is becomes a pharynx, which becomes vagina dentata, which becomes a journey through the artery tunnels and then up into the grayish daylight again. It is a paraphrase of Peter Tillberg's famous painting from the seventies, but here time is offset and circulates between memory and consciousness. A loop is a loop of self-imposed limitation, but the voodoo feeling persists. Compared to Härenstams earlier video works, this is a real step ahead that wants even further.

Excerpt from a review by Mikael Van Reis published in Swedish daily newspaper Göteborgsposten 07.04.2012. The full text is available here or as pdf-download on the right (in Swedish).

Closed Circuit (In the middle of Sweden) was first shown as part of the exhibition 28th February 1986 at Akershus Art Centre, Lillestrøm, Norway Feb - March 2011. It was later also shown as part of a solo exhibitions at Galleri 54 in Gothenburg in March - April 2012; Tromsø Fine Arts Society, Norway Nov - Dec 2012; Galleri Rostrum, Malmö Jan - Feb 2013 and at Luleå Konsthall, Sweden March - April 2013. In 2012 it was part of a group show at SAMCA, Sofia Arsenal Museum of Contemporary Art, Bulgaria (Videoholica Selection) in May - June; shortlisted for Screengrab New Media Arts Award and took part in the nominee exhibition in Townsville, Australia in August; was a starting point for the curators of the exhibition The Corridor Expands: A Mind Map-As-Exhibition at Galleri Rotor in Gothenburg also in August  and was shown at the group show Videosincrasy at Galleria Limiti Inchiusi Arte Contemporana, Campobasso, Italy in October. In January 2013 it was screened at Museo D'Arte Contemporanea Roma at the event Audiovisioni Digitali organised by C.A.R.M.A.; in February 2013 at Video Art & Experimental Film Festival, Tribeca Cinemas, New York and in August - September 2013 it was also shown as a solo project at Kunsthall Trafo, Asker, Oslo, Norway.
  The video has also been shown at several videofestivals and screenings: Videoholica Festival, Varna, Bulgaria Aug. 2011; NewScreen NewCastle Sep 2011; OK Video Festival, National Gallery of Indonesia, Jakarta Oct 2011; Arte Video Roma, Rome Oct. 2011 (where it recieved a Menzione Speziale and was picked for Entr'Acte Intermediale - an Italian TV-show featuring video art); Les Instants Video Festival, Marseille and Paris Nov. 2011; Autumn Contamination, Campobasso Italy, Nov. 2011; öö-Was it a dream?, Tallinn, Estonia Nov 2011; InsideOut Step 2 - Latest trends in western video art at White Box Museum of Art, Beijing Dec. 2011; Oslo Screen Festival, Norway March 2012; Visualcontainer, Milan March - May 2012; L'Oeil d'Oodaaq, Rennes May 2012; 48h Chrono, Friche la Belle de Mai, Marseille, May 2012; Experimental Art Meeting, Oradea, Romania June 2012; Kaunas Mene, Kalbejimasis, Kaunas, Lithuania May - June 2012; Moscow International Film Festival (Oslo Screen Selection) in June 2012; Festival Miden in Kalamata, Greece July 2012; ArteVideoOnTheRoad at Piazzale del Verano in Rome, August 2012; at Global Media, Krasnoyarsk (RUS) in Nov 2012; Kuala Lumpur Experimental Film Festival, Malaysia in Nov 2012; KORT at KinoKino, Sandnes, Norway Nov 2012; VAFA, Macau Nov - Dec 2012; Videoguerrilha in Sao Paolo Nov. 2012 (with further screenings in Rio de Janeiro Jan 2013 and Brasilia April 2013); Miden at La Soirée de Votanique, Athens in Dec 2012 and at Now&After Festival, Moscow Museum of Modern Art, April - May 2013; was also screened as part of a selection from Videoguerrilha at Festival Internacional de la imagen, Manizales, Colombia April 2013 and at the 5th International Video Art Festival, Camaguey, Cuba April - May 2013; was included in a selection of Swedish videoart presented at IVAHM, Madrid, June 2013; was selected for Sardinia Film Festival, Sassari, Italy June 2013; Dithyrambus in Scicli, Sicily Nov 2013; MADE at Norrlandsoperan, Umeå, Sweden in May 2014; at Cutlog NY Art Fair, New York (VAEFF Special selection) also in May 2014; at "Gradient: From Grey to color scale" project in Ioninna, Greece in July 2014 and at a VideoGuerrilha special screening at FENACULT 2014 in Luanda, Angola in Sep 2014. In 2015 it was shown Travelling Festival in Rennes in January, a group show titled "Tomrom" at Sandefjord Arts Society in May - June and at Sunday Screening No 6 - Direction of travel, London in May.
   It was also selected by Wilfried Agricola de Cologne for CologneOFF VII, a touring videofestival. Closed Circuit (In the middle of Sweden) was shown at Shams Art Center, Beirut, Lebanon Aug - Sep 2011; NOASS, Riga, Latvia Sep 2011; Arte Video Roma, Rome Oct. 2011; Ex Teresa Arte Actual, Mexico City Nov. 2011; International Video Art Festival, Camaguey, Cuba Nov. 2011, Academy Arts of Havanna, Cuba Dec. 2011; CANTA, San Potosi, Mexico Dec. 2011; Digital Marrakech, Morocco Dec. 2011; Cinema Perpetuum Mobile, Minsk, Belarus Jan. 2012; CeC Festival, Sattal, India Feb. 2012; Generation Loss, Manilla, Philippines March 2012; Festival Internacional de la imagen, Manizales, Colombia April 2012; International Film Festival, Yerewan, Armenia May 2012; Urban Fire and Culture Festival, Minsk, Belarus May 2012; Athens International Video Art Festival, Greece May 2012, Now and After festival at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art, Russia May 2012, The Hybrid Art Festival, Valencia, Spain June 2012, VideoBabel, Cusco, Peru July 2012, Ares Film & Media Festival, Syracuse, Italy July/Aug 2012, Linoleum - Animation and Media Arts Festival, Moscow July - Sep 2012, MIVA - Muiestra Internacional & Centro Cultural Metropolitano, Quito, Ecuador Aug. 2012, Ionian International Digital Film Festival on the island of Lefkas, Greece September 2012; art:screen fest, Örebro, Sweden Oct. 2012;  Euroshorts, Laznia Centre for Contemporary Art, Gdansk, Poland Nov. 2012; ArtFilmClub Guwahati, India Jan. 2013; 700is Reindeerland Experimental Film Festival, Nordic House, Reykjavik, Iceland Feb. 2013; Aferro Gallery Newark, NJ, USA Feb - March 2013; Center of Contemporary Art, Tbilisi, Georgia May 2013; Mudas Fest, Centro des Artes, Madeira, Portugal May 2013; International Short Film Festival Detmold, Germany May - June 2013; Vetlanda Museum, Sweden Aug - Sep 2013 and at the 1st International Festival of Artistic Film Lublin, Poland, March - April 2014.