Ronneby Konsthall 16.11.2019-12.1.2020
Curator: Martin Schibli
In collaboration with: Naturskyddsföreningen, Blekinge Arkipelag,
Friluftsfrämjandet, Kaoskompaniet, Back in Position och Clean Coast.
The artist Daniel Segerberg participated this spring, May 4, 2019, on the Nordic Coast Rescue Day at the Gö nature reserve in the Blekinge archipelago in Sweden. Together, the volunteers and the artist picked up a ton of debris from all kinds of objects in varying materials, colors and resolution states; buckets, driftwood, PET bottles, clothing, an unopened bottle post, camouflage fabric, a barbie doll and a Russian cigarette package, etc. Some objects has returned to their origins as enamel objects produced in the former enamel factory which now houses the institution where the exhibition takes place. Together, for one day, the material collected is the starting point from which Segerberg works out his sculptural work.
Leviathan is a participant-based exhibition. Members of the kaoskompaniet in Ronneby - a project group for young adults - have assisted the artist during the construction phase of the work, from organizing and sorting the material as well as participating in the subsequent artistic process. During the exhibition period there is the opportunity for children to draw their own sea monsters which will be included in the exhibition. In addition to the installation, ink drawings from recent years are also shown by the artist.
For Segerberg, Leviathan stands as a metaphor for chaos and threats. The debris that has accumulated in the sea in recent decades can be described as a monstrous marine creature seemingly created by humanity itself as a consequence of its self-interest and nonchalance towards the world / nature in general. A marine animal, indirectly produced by man, who now turns to his creator and causes havoc in existence. Some individuals already seem to give in to the knowledge of Leviathan's extensive size and are paralyzed in the face of the threat that in many causes anxiety and / or fatalism.
The name Leviathan occurs frequently throughout history in varying contexts with a multitude of multifaceted variations in meanings and offsets. The name appears early in Hebrew texts and in the Old Testament. Leviathan usually refers to something threatening such as chaos, the enemy or Satan. Sometimes the name represents a more neutral meaning of something that is just enormously large, such as whales, a state or an ocean ship. Over time, the various uses have given rise to a number of connotations linked to the concept, which can be partly perceived as contradictory.
The English philosopher Thomas Hobbes used Leviahtan as his title when in 1651 he presented the social contract as a political idea. Hobbes assumed that the individual in his natural state always acts on the basis of self-interest, which leads to the war of everyone against everyone - a chaos. His idea to a solution was a contract between the individual and the state where all power is transferred to a sovereign authority for the common good. Hobbes assumed a political despot who acted for all individuals, but historical evidence shows that despotism does not work in the long run. The concept has followed political philosophy and is still used. Today, it is often heard that the contract is threatened due to lack of confidence in a government that has failed its contract with the citizens. Perhaps it is not only the debris in the ocean that constitutes Leviathan, but also the increased distrust of the system's - sovereign- opportunity to protect citizens.
In the literature, a number of authors have used Leviathan as the title, for example: Boris Akunin (pseudonym of Grigori Chkhartishvili), Paul Auster, Julien Green, Martin A Hansen… ..In most of these works themes like the sea and complex interpersonal relationships and upcoming threats and disasters caused by the latter. Occasionally, the works also deal with the relationship between (the higher) art and nature and / or society. The biblical references are sometimes associated with the political philosophy of social contracts, human-self relationships and self-interest, as in the Russian film Leviathan (2014) by Andrey Zvyagintsev. A recent story of the influence of capitalism on the individual, self-interest, the corruption of power and authority, trust, tragedy and humanity in which several parallel - partly contradictory - interpretations of the social climate in Russia and the world.
But is it really the case that what scent from the sea will be chaos, evil and threats. In several creation stories, humanity arises from the sea in different ways. In Greek and Roman mythology, goddesses of fertility and love come from the sea. In a variant of the legends, Aphrodite arose as a result of Kronos castrating and throwing his father Urani's penis into the sea. Venus also emerges in the sea foam and in Botticelli's painting Spring brings Venus to the beach in a shell that opens and gives life.
Maybe you can see the threat from the sea more nuanced? Life's saving might come from the sea? Do we see a threat in what could just as well be a rescue? In popular culture, the marine animal is used in countless stories. Not least in blockbuster movies like the Pacific Rim series where big sea monsters threaten to destroy humanity. Godzilla is perhaps the most well-known marine mammal in popular culture, a resurrected ancient monster as a result of the atomic bombs against Hiroshima and Nagasaki revived. One interpretation of Godzilla is that she gets her nutrition from absorbing human failure on earth - the atomic bomb - and transforms the energy into something that saves it, a central theme found in Godzilla II - King of Monsters (2019) by Michael Dougherty. Godzilla brings the chaos to order by sonically killing other immense monsters.
One interpretation is that the survival of life on earth is not equivalent to the survival of humanity. Perhaps one can see Segerberg's exhibition as a three-part illustration of the struggle between society's realities with human relationships, the nihilistic nature where life surely survives with or without humanity, and the idealism of art to believe that something higher is possible.
About Daniel Segeberg:
During most of his artistic career, Daniel Segerberg has worked consistently with recovered material (object trouvé) and / or material that is intended to be discarded. In particular, he has been interested in prefabricated materials - plywood, doors, wooden ribs from beds - which are now worn out. Segerberg almost always uses materials found near the venue for the exhibition. For a limited time he borrows the material which becomes a temporary sculpture. The installation can take the form of, for example, stylistic playgrounds or a maze, etc. At times, he also gives his sculptures a practical function as a bench in a park or as a temporary library. After the exhibition period, the sculpture goes back to its constituents in its capacity as garbage or recycling material.
The artist likes to collaborate with other people in the artistic process. A social community emerges where the work of art can also be seen as an all-work of art where materials and ways of approach become a whole where art and human relationships are combined into one.
For some years he has been working with his wife Ninia Sverdrup to create a miniature re-cycling community in his home village of Vallda on the west coast in Sweden where art, life and economy become a sustainable biotope.
The artist, born in Växjö 1972, educated at the Royal College of Art in Stockholm, has exhibited frequently in Sweden and in Germany where he lived for several years, but he has also worked in Poland and Russia.