Olof Olsson: Slightly in Europe

2. 10. - 25. 11. 2018

Opening: 2. 10. 2018

Curator: Michal Novotný

Centre for Contemporary Art FUTURA, Holečkova 49, Praha 5


Since six years Olof Olsson has toured Europe several times through, with 150 kgs of luggage and his Driving the Blues Away info stand up comedy, in between staging the show weekly (with gigs regularly added) in his Copenhagen apartment. What always fascinated me was the constant reworking and improving of the text in the written content, but also in the way of its spoken, performed form. That is to say, the quality of every joke depends mainly on how you say it. But there's also a certain obstinacy in Olof’s attitude. When touring, he performs anywhere from public museums to friend’s flats, applying a flat ontology of sorts. This ability to be extremely focused and devoted, in a repetition that may seem rigid, results in a grip that somehow wobbles the established structure. It's something between jazz improvisation, gentle irony, and silent excellence – that creates the core of Olof’s work for me. 

The work Slightly in Denmark – the story of a fictional character, Joseph Slightly, who suffers from photo-mania from having been poisoned by photo chemicals – already develops the punchline in the oscillation between the photographs (some of them depicting Olsson’s grandfather) and the way they are described, and in the little twists and shifts happening beside the main narrative line. The pseudo antique, discovery-like character the work builds on, is in the context of this exhibition somehow duplicated by the fact that the passe part outs themselves bear many real physical traces, being the first exhibited work of Olof from 1992, and thus also marking the beginning of his own photo-mania. 

In Market Realist Archive we see a basic level of art appearing. The need people have of inserting something creative, even if it just may mean choosing Arial or Times New Roman. But we also understand why some pictures are there, even if algorithmically speaking, they shouldn’t. In the quantity, we see Olof’s moods and waves that appear to break or unfold the existing lines. And how this in a way shakes the apparently rigid conceptual approach. It’s not the archives or Google images we see here, but some roots and essences of human creativity.

Office Work could be read almost entirely as an ode to boredom. But also to the times when boredom still existed. Art, in any case, needs and grows from boredom. We feel the pleasure, the elegance but also the importance of each gesture. Nonetheless as much as with the touring comedian, the roadside enterprise sign designer, and the photo-maniac, also the office worker is a statement towards ideas of productivity and profit. Not just concerning the symbolism of the A4 to A8 multiplication as a questionable result, but also the excellence of the execution of this task. The work is not only gestural and conceptual, but also physical; it has a lot of delicacy and elegance, which transcends the simplicity of the idea, and takes it further.
Michal Novotný