This exhibition marks the first solo show at Ebensperger’s new venue in Berlin’s Wedding district.
The globalization and liberalization of markets have shaped the world in recent decades as strongly as the religious ideologies and terminologies have offensively gone public – what a powerful symbiosis of religion, capitalism, culture and architecture. Whether is it the Tea Party in the USA or the new conservative middle class in Brazil, India or Turkey, Christian Fundamentalism or extreme Islamism- local movements similarly combine respective religious beliefs with so-called economical Objectivism. With his work “Liberty Park”, Bjørn Melhus focuses on the concrete visual impact this worldwide development has on metropolitan areas: the gated communities that are spreading all over the world and separating people from each other.
The spatial installation is an audio-visual commentary on this global urban phenomenon and reveals the correlative influence of capitalistic systems of consumption and religious beliefs on modern societies. This tableau vivant is a multimedia labyrinth of projections and life-size figures – partially with banners of neoliberal texts or religious quotes, as well as hypnotic video-loops of these new forms of urban development. “Liberty Park” does not tell a (linear) story, but is rather a stage upon which the artist becomes the performer acting out the roles of various protagonists. The discussion regarding private and public space that has been posed in relation to new housing developments is put into the limelight in a humorous but critical way. While Bjørn Melhus blatantly uses the political-economical vocabulary and imagery of this society, he exposes and caricatures the commercial strategies of these allegedly perfect societies with their security zones, parks and swimming pools for the so-called ideal, stereotypical family.
Along with this current installation, Ebensperger will present other works by Bjørn Melhus that are unknown or lesser known in Berlin. The complete, three-part installation “Mars Recovery” from 2009, which deals with the lost and now revived utopia of the colonization of Mars, will also be exhibited. It questions the privatization of an entire planet that is to be brought to a comfortable temperature by means of greenhouse gases. Economical and ecological concepts that destroy the blue planet promise a future on the red planet. Mars Recovery is flanked by the very early video, America Sells from the year 1990, where Americans celebrate the introduction of the free market economy with T-Shirts at Berlin-Alexanderplatz, which was still situated in the GDR at that time. Another work about spectacular events is Good Morning New World, where different local television productions record the turn of the millennium. Sudden Destruction is also a work from earlier years and will be exhibited as well.
In his short films and installations, Bjørn Melhus focuses on general global ideas and trends, the critical reception of mass media, as well as the direct affects they have on people. He uses footage from film and television excessively and deconstructs stereotypical themes, figures and patterns of perception through means of exaggeration. At the same time, he breaks up seemingly fixed relationship between media and audience, thus opening up the view on the essentials of human interaction.
Bjørn Melhus was born in Kirchheim unter Teck in 1966, studied photography in Stuttgart from 1985 to 1987 and Fine Arts with a major in Film/Video at the Braunschweig University of Art from 1990 to 1997. He was a fellow of the DAAD at the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles and of the federal state of Lower Saxony in ISCP, New York. He participated in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum in New York, the 8th International Biennial of Istanbul, the FACT in Liverpool, the Serpentine Gallery in London, the Sprengel Museum in Hanover, the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, the ZKM in Karlsruhe, the Denver Art Museum, as well as others. Bjørn Melhus has been a professor of Fine Arts/Virtual Realities at the School of Art and Design Kassel since 2003. Bjørn Melhus has been living and working in Berlin since 1987.