About the work

JYTTE HØY

ABOUT THE WORK


 

   JYTTE HØY
     The Modern Ruin, 2001
Photogravure
61 x 83 cm.
Jytte Høy has carefully selected the buildings that are usually overlooked. The six tumbledown and partly demolished buildings appear as naked skeletons without doors, windows or roofs.

Three of the subjects are modern buildings from Islands Brygge in Copenhagen, one is from Tuborg's bottling plant in Hellerup, one from Clemens Bro in Aarhus and one is a building near the Reims Cathedral in France.

Høy has accurately rendered the architectural structures which have now lost their function, waiting to vanish altogether. The modern ruins are factory buildings whose functional lifespan is dwarfed by that of classical ruins such as Greek temples and Gothic cathedrals.

Ruins tend to be romantic, telling stories of times immemorial, and looking decorative. Really Høy's modern ruins are not dressed up, and she has made no attempt to do so.  They appear as large, open and empty non-places without stories. Høy has deliberately left out disturbing elements that might grab our attention. Here we find only structures, completely naked.

A DIFFERENT GAZE
Høy challenges our expectations of how ruins look. In The Modern Ruin she deliberately invokes the romantic and mournful stories associated with the ruin. Ruins testify to a distant past, but not so with Høy's ruins. They tell of a very near past with an increasingly industrialised city. However they do not improve the cityscape and the unsightly buildings are not allowed to remain.

Høy became fascinated with the decrepit architecture on her daily walks of the city and photographed them over a long period of time. To Høy the former factory structures constitute a personal parameter for looking at the city.

She is interested in everyday structures – here specific urban structures to which we normally pay no attention. The modern ruins serve as a key or entry to the exploration of everyday things that we do not normally hold important. They constitute a manner of governing principle which helps us simplify and thus make sense of what we see. However Høy rarely picks the obvious choice. She finds new governing principles for our desire to order and systematise, new principles that make us contemplate the existing ones. Why do what we always do? Why not turn everything upside down?

ROMANTIC INSPIRATION
The series was inspired by the popular copper prints and etchings of Roman ruins by the Italian etcher and architect Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720-1778) whose dramatic and contrasting depictions were a major influence on his contemporaries' view of Rome. Høy takes snapshots that she transfers to photogravure, a technique which imbues the pictures with a tactile and romantic quality, thus indirectly emphasising the connection to the great masters of art history and to a tradition which has run through Danish and international art since the romantic movement. By adding nuances of violet, green and blue to the individual prints, Høy imparts the somewhat anonymous pictures with a greater significance and individuality.

Jytte Høy's art in general
Høy's art often begins with an idea or an observation that governs the look and the execution of the work. This makes her works serve as very disparate explorations of various questions that have occupied Høy for long periods. Art becomes an opportunity to suggest alternative solutions or to provoke yet more questions.

THE MEANINGFUL WITHOUT MEANING
Høy turns assumptions upside down, questioning the way in which we understand and regulate our world. We are deeply involved in controlling our lives and often Høy's works are based on these control systems. Her works suggest a new and different way of systematising and understanding the culture and the world around us. Finding a premise or a mode of attack on our way of perceiving reality, she lays bare our patterns of thought. It is only one among any number of constructions! In Høy's own words, she throws a spanner in the works of our old perception of reality. We are to be forced into rethinking our usual way of thinking!

"I always try to make my works make as much sense as non-sense, to explore that spectrum between what makes sense in an ordinary manner and what doesn’t but yet attaches itself to the meaning somehow in a strange, awkward way," Høy said in connection with her exhibition "A Historical Alphabet for You" at ARKEN in the autumn of 2004.

A GOVERNING PRINCIPLE
Høy's art is governed by ideas which direct the execution of her works. The works are amalgams of words and images, and she uses each to its strength.

Conceptual art is integral to Høy’s aesthetics in which the underlying principle governs the execution of the work. In The Modern Ruin the pictures serve as one particular premise of looking at the city but Høy suggests that there might very well be others. She might just as well have presented urban structures such as bridges or buildings with round windows. Forcing us to direct a focused gaze at the mundane, she concentrates our attention on the neglected things. The things that, like the former industrial buildings, are waiting to disappear.

Conceptual art also influences the form of the works. Her finished works are not always executed in the permanent materials that we associate with art. Eschewing impressive materials like marble, wood and bronze, she frequently uses cardboard, MDF boards and found images. At other times her materials are more diminutive: rubber bands, paper cut-outs and little inconspicuous objects. In The Modern Ruin Høy has used the photogravure technique conceptually – to emphasise a historical connection. Usually Høy does not use this technique, but here it serves as an important historical reference which adds an extra perspective to the subject.

Høy wants to jostle the onlookers' minds and allows us to be integral parts of the meaning of the piece.

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