'The Three Great Stimulants', 2019, ett konstverk av Magnus Bärtås
The Three Great Stimulants, 2019






159 x 259 cm


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’’Numbered, numbered, weighed and they are divided. (Daniel 5:25)
During a drunken feast held by King Belshazzar the mysterious writing on the wall appeared by a disembodied hand. This was the omen of the downfall of the Babylonian Empire. This biblical appearance of the handwriting is perhaps the starting point of a long history of warning texts: the papal bull of excommunication, the proscription, the epitaph/epigram, the tablet of law, as well as all kinds of warning signs, visual injunctions and exhorta-tions that create a relation of interpellation to the viewer. I believe that most texts installed in an exhibition space bear traces of this archaic impact.
In a series of cut-out embroidery works I have created my own font which is assembled by combinations of animals, plants, objects and body parts. The different handicraft techniques that underpin these image worlds belong to slowness, the private sphere but could also be seen to express encapsulated time and creative power. The parts origin from an antiquated, sometimes idealizing imagery (some of the local patterns are dating back to the 18th century), at the same time cross stich embroidery is a forerunner of the digital image’s pixel structure. It is a realm of images that is perhaps associated with farmer’s words of wisdom, with moralities (in word and image), which have essentially developed out of fear and – as I see it – are related to incantation.
The Three Great Stimulants are quoted from a song by Joni Mitchell, which in turn is a citation from Nietzsche’s book about Wagner (The Case of Wagner). In her song Joni Mitchel warns for a new sort of populism targeting ’the exhausted people’, which in fact is a century old populism called fascism. The combination of artifice, brutality and innocence – in that very order – has stimulated people during the last century like a magic trick repeating itself. And perhaps the attraction is stronger now than ever before, as history has not made us immune.’’
Magnus Bärtås