Sean Snyder at Kunsthall Svalbard and Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum
Kunsthall Svalbard is proud to present two solo exhibitions by American artist Sean Snyder. Room 11 (Latitude: 78.223, Longitude: 15.646) in Longyearbyen and Exhibit: NNKM.Dep.0199 in Tromsø are the two first iterations of an exhibition trilogy developed by Snyder in collaboration with Norwegian art historian and curator Ellef Prestsæter. The third iteration will take place at Guttormsgaards arkiv in Blaker in 2022.
The point of departure for Sean Snyder’s exhibition at the public library of Longyearbyen is a rather inconspicuous little room at the former National Gallery of Norway devoted to 19th century “studies and sketches.” Simply referred to as “Room 11,” the space presented 69 works under the general rubric “Fleeting impressions and abundance of detail.” In February 2018 Snyder spent several days in the room, meticulously cataloguing the exhibit. Observing the behavior of museum visitors photographing art with their smartphones or digital cameras, Snyder noted that none of the artworks displayed in the room conformed to any standard screen format. Northern Lights over Coastal Landscape, a Peder Balke painting slightly larger in format than an index card, left an enduring impression on the artist with its monochromatic depiction of multicolor aurora borealis. Subsequent research was carried out in the library of the museum and its gift shop.
In January 2019, the National Gallery closed; the new National Museum is now scheduled to open on June 11 2022. Through a series of artistic operations, Snyder has reconstructed the no longer existing museum space as an informational entity with a distinctive visual identity. This entity will be on display in the library of Longyearbyen and deposited in the Arctic World Archive, which is located inside a former coal mine nearby.
At Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum Snyder presents a parallel investigation of Northern Light, a privately owned painting by Peder Balke deposited in the collection of the museum with the inventory number NNKM.Dep.0199. As the title of the exhibition suggests, Snyder examines the painting as a piece of material evidence. In a mode that echoes the reductive procedures of Balke’s late painterly style, Snyder subjects such evidence to measures that produce new perspectives, sensory experiences, and information exchanges. In order to contextualize the exhibit of Balke’s painting, the show also includes a program of Snyder’s earlier video works probing the production, circulation, and storage of images. As a whole, the exhibition confronts the museum audience with questions about what they see and what they’re conditioned to know about viewing art.
Along with Room 11, NNKM.Dep.0199 will be digitally preserved on celluloid and deposited in the Arctic World Archive on Svalbard for “future-proof” reference on September 23 2021.
Sean Snyder (born 1972 in Virginia Beach, USA) has been a prolific and influential artist on the international art scene for two decades, with solo exhibitions at key institutions such as Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), Institute for Contemporary Arts (London), Israeli Center for Digital Art (Holon), Kölnischer Kunstverein (Cologne), National Museum of Contemporary Art (Bucharest), Index Stockholm), Wiener Secession (Vienna), and Van Abbe Museum (Eindhoven). Recent solo exhibitions include Aurora Borealis at Galerie Neu (Berlin, 2017) and Aspect Ratio / Dispositif at Galerie Chantal Crousel (Paris, 2016). Snyder has recently participated in the group exhibitions Theater of Operations: The Gulf Wars 1991–2011 (MoMA PS1, New York, 2019), Always Contemporary (Ludwig Museum, Budapest, 2019), and Faithless Pictures (National Museum of Norway, 2018).