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16.03.2015 INTERVIEW

David Stjernholm: Seedless Grapes, 2015. Foto: Iben Zorn.

Seedless Grapes

Turning a corner, bumping into a sign. There is a picture of an arrangement of some grapes. "Seedless grapes" it says, in a handwritten typo. Is it a wine cellar? A restaurant? Cars buzzing by. I pass the sign; did the grape arrangement just change? A couple of steps down I enter the basement. There are a couple of barrels. "We are not open yet, we have an exhibition opening tonight." A rancid smell creeps up my nose. A red and white check pattern on the wall. With wine? "You can say that." Did that barrel make a sound? Is the artist present? “Yes, he would like to talk."

AF Iben Zorn

Galleri Image
Vestergade 29, 8000 Århus C W: galleriimage.dk
Seedless grapes
David Stjernhom
14.03.2015 -­‐ 26.04.2015

What is this basement arrangement?
You’ve entered an exhibition named Seedless Grapes. It’s situated in Vestergade in the cellar of one of the oldest buildings in Århus. It’s an area with many small restaurants, bars and cafés. This place used to house an old tobacco company. When I was invited to do a show here, I saw it as a great opportunity to work with the exterior context - and the old reminiscences and timbered wood inside the space - to do an exhibition interested in context, time and image memory. For me the wine bar was a perfect cover.

Working with time and memory must also include the loss of memory?
Amnesia or rather absence and the lack of information in general is a great part of the exhibition. As for the idea, and a general expectation of the wine bar, you’ll never taste wine down here. You will find various sensory hints, but no actual wine. However, the strong fermented odor emitting from the old oak barrels, the visual information, etc., might leave an impression of just having had a big sip.
As for the work Glass of Wines, memory bears an essential role of how we understand the work. It shows a big stemware — half full — on an isolated white background on a horizontal monitor. Technically it’s something between a still image and a video…
Did the wine just change color?
Yes, or rather, the content of the glass probably changed while we spoke. The screen very slowly blends images of different wines photographed in the same glass under the same circumstances. You can’t immediately see the change, before returning after exploring the rest of the exhibition, or when you look away and then back after a brief time. Without memory you only register a still image, but with our ability to recall, it becomes an animation.  

‐ Red and white, flicker. I blink a little. ‐

On the walls I’ve mounted red and white checkered tablecloths onto tabletops. They are equipped with test tubes, grasped in these small forks/hands, you’ll find in labs and chemical facilities. In each tube there’s a different scent known from red wines, normally used by sommeliers and wine enthusiasts to train their noses and sensory judgment. Each table bears the description of its smells within the title, for instance: “Table 1, smoke, truffle” and “Table 4, violet, blackberry”.

- My nose is itching. Head feeling heavy. All senses occupied ‐

- ZzzzzzzzZZZzzhhhh zafff rrrhhiiiiyyyvv iiiiii !!!!! ‐

What are those sounds!?
It’s the oak barrels, used for wine aging. This step in wine production is very influenced by how you want the taste, the flavour and the aromas to end up for the final bottle in a distant future. A prediction of the taste and preferences in a remote time. In this case they have been emptied for wine, and filled with futuristic sound effects, as you know from sci-­‐fi movies, trying to give the images of the outer space a more familiar feel, by adding sound to what is basically an anechoic vacuum.

‐ I grab a piece of paper with a text from a need pile. The press release maybe? Wait… it’s a blur. -

Why can’t I read it? This dizziness is really getting to my head. Feeling intoxicated... why?
You’re not drunk, but it is certainly blurry. It is a thing between text and image. If you try really hard you will be able to read some lines, but it’s not easy and much information is lost.
It is the same with the test tubes - you see a pure scent without its normal body. How much can you break down information for a given subject and still call it by its name or definition? When does information become abstraction or representation? What’s most a truffle, a photograph of one, -or its isolated transparent oil?

I feel the room is creeping onto me…
The sounds cape definitely adds an uncanny or dystopian feeling. A non-time arises. The sci-fi sounds are the body of the future, but actually tells us more about the present sound-engineers and their idea and visions on the future and the unknown. How would you like the future to sound like? Maybe you need an analogue device to make a certain digital sound your body finds it easier to relate to. Chips of oak are right now being added to grand stainless steel barrels to give the impression of an organic aging process in the final wine. The skeuomorphic taste.

So we are not drinking or eating, but exposed to al these other sensual impressions. I feel like a guinea pig…
That’s a good point. I guess we are all guinea pigs. The reality we navigate within and use is being constructed behind our backs, and we only know little from the information we can access. There are a lot of estimations and calculi in wine production to gain the wanted taste and effect. This occur to all human-made stimuli, we are surrounded by. The sound and feel of my jacket’s zipper has been designed and fine-tuned - the font, this interview will be set in, has a history and an inherited will. Everything is now a laboratory, and we are positioned as both test-subjects and receivers. Our behavior and preferences are being stored, as we speak, and later sold, to eventually present us to a series of even more likable products. We consume our own actions.

- ZzzzzzzzZZZzzhhhh zafff rrrhhiiiiyyyvv iiiiii !!!!! -

Is it me or is the handwritten part on the poster and the exhibition’s “menu” a little too perfect?
They look handwritten but it’s really just a custom font. The corporal movement becomes computer generated, a generic mime over a human action. Like the forks grasping the test tubes are a form of hands, but at the same time they look like a robot arm. It juxtaposes the corporal and the inorganic.

- Making a stroll round the room again. The wine glass on the wall changed from white to rosé.-

I feel like I missed something?
The seedless grape is a paradox with its lack of information and destination. It has no past and no future. Missing something is key to the exhibition. As for the video, the only way to really engage with it is by missing the dissolving information. The exhibition is pieced together by a variety of elements; the street outside, the low ceiling, the works I made for the show, etc. They’re all part of a collection of data that can’t be grasped at once and maintained, neither really documented probably. Something will get lost every time…

Let’s have a beer.

Thank you.

David Stjernholm: Seedless Grapes, 2015. Foto: David Stjernholm.

David Stjernholm: Installation view (Seedless Grapes), 2015. Foto: David Stjernholm.

David Stjernholm: Installation view (Seedless Grapes), 2015. Foto: David Stjernholm.

David Stjernholm: Installation view (Seedless Grapes), 2015. Foto: David Stjernholm.

David Stjernholm: Installation view (Seedless Grapes), 2015. Foto: David Stjernholm.

David Stjernholm: Installation view (Seedless Grapes), 2015. Foto: David Stjernholm.

David Stjernholm: Installation view (Seedless Grapes), 2015. Foto: David Stjernholm.

David Stjernholm: Table 1 - smoke - truffle , 2015. Foto: David Stjernholm.

David Stjernholm: Vacuum (detail) , 2015. Foto: David Stjernholm.

David Stjernholm: Vacuum (detail), 2015. Foto: David Stjernholm.

David Stjernholm: Glass of wines, 2015. Foto: David Stjernholm.

David Stjernholm: Table 5 - pepper - cherry - green pepper, 2015. Foto: David Stjernholm.

David Stjernholm: Table 1 - smoke (detail), 2015. Foto: David Stjernholm.

David Stjernholm: Woozy (press release ), 2015. Foto: David Stjernholm.

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