Hilde Rognskog work What have I been that I`m not anymore is a widely spanning exhibition that, similar to several of her previous projects, questions the role of the artist in today's society.
Polls have become an essential tool for businesses developing brands, especially considering the identity of the products and their potential for conveying ideology and meaning. In the same way, the tabloid papers hammer us with their investigations and life-style tests, meant to help us establish our own individuality. Rognskog has gone straight to the core of this media reality by employing the poll as a tool in an art project where the artist is turned into a malleable product with the same potential for improvement, changes and "branding" that mercantile goods have.
A year ago, 300 people received a questionnaire by mail. The difference between this and public questionnaires was that this one was highly personal. Hilde Rognskog had made up 31 questions with alternative answers tied to the recipient's relationship to the artist and what ideas and impressions he or she might have of her as a person: How would you describe your conversations with the person in question? Is she a bad listener? Little Miss know-it-all? Precocious? Dull? How would you describe the appearance of the person in question? Fashionable? Trendsetting? Tasteless? Personal? How would you describe the person in question's behaviour? Neurotic? Pessimistic? Sourfaced and grumpy? Introvert? Happy? Thus, this study does not set out to map the various attitudes of the masses, but the identity of a single individual.
The conclusions reached by the poll are visualised with the same aesthetics as those employed by companies in their reports, but there is a difference from the graphic presentations of board rooms in that the gallery audience are free to wander through a realised power point landscape where the pillar diagrams have been turned into man-size, physical cubes and where the distance from floor to ceiling represents the 100 % point of the diagram.
As a counterbalance to the conclusions of the poll, Rognskog has made a personal video interview, executed in a recognizable TV-aesthetics, where she voices her own opinion of herself. Consonances or contradictions between the artist's own answers and those produced by the poll, form the starting point for the exhibition's central questions: What have I been that I'm not anymore? Am I the same as I was before? How can I choose to be somebody before I know who I am?
Hilde Rognskog (b. 1966) was educated at The National School of Arts and Crafts in Bergen and at The Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo. She has been employed as an engineer at Hellegjerde Møbelfabrikk (a furniture factory), and her thorough knowledge of industrial production has served as a basis for several of her projects. Many will recall Rognskog's project "New York Dreams", where a seemingly random pile of staples placed on a desk formed a small scale model of The Manhattan Skyline.
Erik Steen, Galleri Wang