Museu d’Història de Catalunya
Artist: John Skoog
A project by A Tale of a Tub in collaboration with LOOP Barcelona and Museu d’Història de Catalunya
‘LAND’, the first solo exhibition in Spain by Swedish artist John Skoog, presents the artist’s latest film ‘SHADOWLAND’, alongside other works from the artist’s practice. In his photos, film, and video works, Skoog draws on the formally reduced and highly concentrated narrative forms of Scandinavian cinema, with a returning lead role for the desolate landscape, inviting the viewers to let their imagination run loose. His works are shaped by calm cinematic imagery, exploring the metaphorical power and historical allusions of everyday events. With his camera, Skoog continuously investigates sites, searching for traces of people, passed occurrences and memories that ingrain the landscape with meaning. The narrative in Skoog’s films unfolds from a sequence of atmospheric images that act as piercing – almost human – portraits of a place.
The films on show at Museu d’Història de Catalunya show the interest of the artist in the recollection of classical films. In The Chemical Analysis of the Last Breath Skoog presents the surviving material from a fire in a Hollywood Studio in the 1930s which brought to the destruction of many films from the early 20th century. At that time image and sound were always recorded separately. Thanks to the safeguarded audiotapes and promotional materials – the only witnesses to the disappeared images – the films live on as ‘disembodied spaces.’ The sound, extracted from the original audiovisual context, seems to have been left behind as a ‘contra form’ of the image. All of the acts, meetings, emotions, and landscapes in the story are merely communicated through voices, sound effects and music: like echoes from a forgotten world. The narratives can only unfold in our imagination.
In his latest film ‘SHADOWLAND’ images from the Californian landscape pass by at a very slow pace, reminiscent of Scandinavian film noir. Shot on 16mm, the multifarious environment seems to be a place that functions outside the realm of time. Fragments of recognition and memory are resurrected by revisiting locations from early Hollywood films. We see desolate landscapes, extensive views, images of the sea, and endless rock formations. Echoes of classical films are heard within a collage constructed of audio fragments that were once recorded in the Californian landscape.
JOHN SKOOG (1985, Malmö) lives and works Frankfurt am Main and Copenhagen. He graduated from the Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main in 2012. Recent shows and festivals include: Real DMZ Project 2014, Cheorwon-gun, Gangwon-do & Artsonje Center, Seoul (2014); A Time for Dreams: 4th Moscow International Biennale for Young Art, National Centre for Contemporary Arts (NCCA), Moscow (2014); Redoubt, Towner Contemporary Art Museum, Eastbourne, UK (2014); Rotterdam International Film Festival, Rotterdam (2013); Rencontres Internationales: Paris, Centre Pompidou, Paris, (2014 & -11).
For more information: L A N D at Museu d’Història de Catalunya | LOOP Festival