About the work

CARIN ELLBERG

ABOUT THE WORK


 

    CARIN ELLBERG
    

Sunrise III, 2002
Mixed media
230 x 400 x 400 cm 

The sculpture is an elaborately executed landscape that Carin Ellberg's own children might have helped construct.

The 'rays' from the entangled nylons constitute rivers, hills and other scenic features while setting the stage for the toys' exploits.

In many ways the miniature society echoes children's games that include both the permitted and the forbidden: respectively the children's own toys and the parents' belongings which are involuntary inclusions in the game. Here the roles are reversed.

Mommy has 'borrowed' her children's toys and possibly with the aid of Pippi Longstocking Ellberg has devised a playful and humorous work: a doll's house society has sprung up with new and different roles from the ones we know.

CHILDISH AND ADULT AT THE SAME TIME
Ellberg utilises the potential inherent in everyday objects in new and unorthodox juxtapositions. She is fond of the stories found in our homes.

Reality and imagination converge in combinations that challenge our perception of the familiarity and absence of drama of the objects. Ellberg subjects the familiar to transformations, imbuing it with symbol-laden stories of the home and in particular of women's roles.

At first glance the toys are an amusing and colourful addition to the museum yet a sense of seriousness and malaise persists. We are surprised at the sight of toys, which clash with the stern and elitist character of the museum.

The garish colours and cheap plastic imbue the work with a both naïve and kitschy quality while the tights testify to another, more complicated dimension to which the adult artist contributes.

The tights seem virtually alive, giving them a disquieting quality. Concrete reality slides into a symbolic narrative; normal becomes abnormal. Ellberg works with the transformation of the familiar in a new context with results that are not only humorous but also ambiguous and a little unsettling.

Carin Ellberg's art in general
The point of departure for Ellberg's art is the immediate life, most often the home. Studying and grabbing objects from her environment she places them in drawings, paintings and installations. Her works typically comprise toys, clothes, kitchen utensils and furniture (ready-mades) joined into unconventional objects which, although not something we would usually find in our homes, certainly are recognisable.

SURREAL EVERYDAY
Ellberg belongs to the large and heterogeneous group of artists who employ various incarnations of the everyday as a subject in their art. However, these are not 1:1 representations of reality; often they have undergone Surrealist transformations.

Concerned with the reality that lies beyond what we meet here and now, Ellberg might be described as an often humorous, present-day Surrealist. The Surrealist movement in the 1920s and '30s was interested in the everyday because it makes an opportune backdrop for exploring the contrast, the clash, the encounter between the real and the sur-real. Ellberg has resumed this tradition.

The familiar everyday is interpreted by the Surrealists through the fantastic and the unexpected and therefore no longer comfortable or safe; it is uncanny or, in the words of Sigmund Freud, 'unheimlich.'

Ellberg's interpretation of 'das unheimliche' is a sort of Nordic Social Democratic unheimlich and not the vehement and often violent Surrealist representation of the everyday that the Surrealists displayed in the 1920s and '30s. In Ellberg's art there is a close link to a completely ordinary family's experience of the everyday – but with a twist.

INTIMACY AND HOME
Like philosophers and sociologists Ellberg regards the home as one of the fundamentals of our life. It is the fountainhead of our life, and the emotional and psychological entity of the home is instrumental in moulding us as individuals. The formation of the female identity in particular has been bound up with the various manifestations of the home. The perception of the home is a primary experience initiating and impacting on how we meet and judge the world.

Ellberg's art meets our expectations of characteristically feminine art in both employing the home and the personal as subject matter and incorporating typically feminine materials like clothes and children's toys. This is a conscious choice on Ellberg's part, a desire to position herself in opposition to the cold, intellectual, passionless idiom that she connects with the work of many male artists.

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