Kunsthall Svalbard and Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum present two solo exhibitions with American artist Sean Snyder: Room 11 (Latitude: 78.223, Longitude: 15.646) and Exhibit: NNKM.Dep.0199.
September 16 2021 – February 20 2022
Room 11 (Latitude: 78.223, Longitude: 15.646)
Kunsthall Svalbard / Longyearbyen Folkebibliotek
September 18 2021 – November 28 2021
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 (NG.M.0132), a Peder Balke painting that is smaller than an index card, left an enduring impression on the artist with its monochromatic depiction of the multicolor aurora borealis phenomenon. 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 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. In addition, Snyder has developed a visual identity for Predator X, the dinosaur whose fossils were discovered on Svalbard some fifteen years ago.
Concurrently, a related exhibition at Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum displays Snyder’s parallel investigation of Northern Lights, a Balke painting 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 and monochromatic procedures of Balke’s late painterly style, Snyder subjects such evidence to measures that produce unfamiliar perspectives, new sensory experiences, and playful information exchanges. Are you able to recognize a Balke painting by its aspect ratio?
As part of the exhibition project, Room 11 and NNKM.DEP.0199 have been digitally preserved on celluloid. The files were deposited in the Arctic World Archive on Svalbard for “future-proof” reference on September 23 2021.
The exhibitions form part of a 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.
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).