Mattias Härenstam

Everyday Life in the Post-Utopian Welfare State (The Sea, The Map and The Island)

Three part installation shown at Kunstnernes Hus, 1998 as part of the exhibition "Fellessentralen- a survey of Norwegian art of the 90's", curated by Jon Ove Steihaug.

"The Sea" is a kinetic sculpture, consisting of a mattress all in blue and covered with scattered glass and a little raft of cigarette butts and toilet paper sail. A motor in the mattress creates a "wave-movement" under the raft, thus making it jerk from side to side.

"The Map" is large scale textile work (5 x 4 m) in felt with applications, including a life size doll of Ulrike Meinhof and a chain of giant tear drops, hanging on the wall like a tapestry.

"The Island" is a papier-mâché sculpture consisting of more than 190 separate objects. Circle diameter: 2 m.

(...) "One aspect of most Norwegian art that makes it particularly refreshing is that isn't afraid to be critical. Yet it pushes beyond the post-modern cliché of being "about" critique. Mattias Härenstam's 1996-98 installation, Everyday life in the post-utopian welfare society (respectively: the sea, the map, the island), exemplified this position. On the wall, a felt map depicted various things, from wishing stars (cigarette holes) to bleak voids, complemented by a hanging stuffed dummy that bespoke Ulrike Meinhof's struggling spirit.
Alluding to the will's fragility, a raft of cigarette butts with a toilet paper sail bobbed along a discarded mattress. Nearby, a papier-mâché paradise parodied the sort of escapist fantasies which eclipse desire" (...)

Excerpt from a review by Sue Spaid in Art/Text 62. 1998

"The Sea" and "The Island" was also shown at a solo show at Norrtälje Konsthall in 1999, and "The Island" was shown at the show "Modellmakene" curated by Åsmund Thorkildsen at Kunstnernes Hus, 2000 and later toured by Riksutstillingene (National Touring Exhibitions).