Critics’ Picks

Three Rooms, 2008, still from a three-screen silent black-and-white video, 26 minutes 58 seconds.


Jonas Dahlberg

Galerie Nordenhake | Stockholm
Hudiksvallsgatan 8
April 4–May 11

Swedish artist Jonas Dahlberg’s videos explore relationships between architectural and psychological space. Carefully constructed scenes set in familiar places—residential streets, private chambers, hallways—become uncanny and mysterious. His newest piece, Three Rooms, 2008, exhibited in a darkened gallery, depicts a bedroom, a living room, and a dining room separately on three screens. There seems to be no movement at the outset of the video, and the simple interiors evoke an enigmatic Scandinavian solitude also found in certain interior paintings, like those of Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi. But as the video proceeds, the objects and furnishings in these domestic settings dissolve slowly, then disappear—each image loses its particularity as room becomes void. This is not a digital effect. The artist has developed a technique for causing the disintegration of objects in real time, according to their volume and weight. The visual effect, though, is as if this decomposition were occurring over a much longer period. The process moves gracefully as the furniture and objects list, buckle, fall over, and dissolve. Observing this visually elegant deconstruction of material objects, the viewer feels the finitude of personal existence, as if watching the passage of a lifetime. Playing with the perception of time, Dahlberg creates an illusion both mesmerizing and melancholic.