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A K Dolven

A Other Teenager

OSL contemporary is pleased to present the exhibition A Other Teenager by A K Dolven. A single video work is projected at floor level along the full width of the right hand side wall. Two large speakers are positioned on the floor. The work is based on a performance and a musical composition – a joint project in which the participants were given full freedom, within a basic framework of instructions stipulated by Dolven.

A Other Teenager was shot in one single take. It shows a gray floor and a white wall, two monochrome surfaces separated by a narrow coloured ribbon consisting of twenty people lying flat out in a row, forming a 16-meter horizontal ornament of bodies. The video is projected in a 1:1 ratio making the people appear life-size. The work relates to the gallery’s architecture in a similar manner to a classical frieze from antiquity, but while such friezes typically depicted dramatic scenes and mythological characters, the participants in A Other Teenager appear passive and anonymous. They are everyday people in practical coats and sturdy shoes.

The work’s monumental calm allows focus towards two subdued, ongoing events. The exterior action consists of a single event; while everyone lies with their heads pointed left, one woman moves slowly in the opposite direction. She crawls, rolls and glides over and partly under the row of people before eventually disappearing from the picture's right edge. It is a determined and persistent progress, which remains resolutely driven by the woman probing her way forward over the bodies, disregarding any intimate boundaries. The horizontal mass remains unaffected.
The second focal point is in the center of the image, where we meet the direct gaze of a young woman - to all appearances, the teenager in the work's title. Whereas the others appear introvert and unresponsive, the teenager is signaling her openness towards the viewer and towards something outside the framework which surrounds the image and the event which unfolds within it. This outward gaze is recognizable from Dolven’s earlier works; the same eyes, the same girl, who we first encountered as a baby in The Meal (2003), now confronts us in this work through a teenager’s eyes.

This subtle resonance is characteristic of Dolven’s practice, and A Other Teenager continues the investigation of a series of recurring themes in her extensive production, both formally and conceptually. Dolven moves between the monumental and the minimal, the universal and the intimate, often by drawing lines that point beyond the confines of the work. Interpersonal relations and interactions are central to her oeuvre, not the least in performance based works like the one exhibited here. The artist explores social interaction in the meeting between outer and inner realities, existential conditions and forces of nature.

There are also references to Dolven’s paintings, for example just another sound (2014) where a single horizontal motion is applied to the painting’s surface from left to right. The repeated motif in the work's title is not insignificant. Where "another" has two possible readings; as "another one of the same" or as "a different kind", we might read "a other" as one particular other. The title alludes to the close relationship between another, a other and other, of these concepts' relation to each other and, not the least, to an implied "self".

A Other Teenager is an open-ended work and shows great confidence in its audience. The same confidence can be found in the work’s structure, as all participants were given free rein. When asked to develop their contributions, neither the dancer Tale Dolven, nor the composer Stian Westerhus, or any of the other participants, were given any more information than merely the location and duration of the performance. Thus the work is an improvisational piece that can be seen in the tradition of the collaborative works by composer John Cage and dancer Merce Cunningham, where chance played a significant role in the outcome. Dolven’s work is a vote of confidence in the potential of the artistic moment, while at the same time it is also a call for us to show the same confidence towards the world around us.