Ornamented Political Criticism
This picture looks decorative, but it has a serious political content. Abu Ghurayb (Abu Ghraib) from 2007 is part of a series called Contemporary Decorative Political Patterns.
The photographs of the series are based on satellite images from the Internet, which have been manipulated digitally into a collage that repeats and reflects the same subjects several times. At first glance, therefore, they look decorative, reminiscent of eastern carpets and mosaics. However, if you look closely, you will discover that the seemingly formalistic images have a serious political content.
Abu Ghraib is the name of a town near Baghdad. It is home to a prison notorious for its cruelty, and to one of the presidential palaces in Iraq, both of which have been bombed several times. In Bård Ask’s digital collage, sections of satellite images of the city are repeated with geometric precision. They form patterns of the type found in children's binoculars.
In Abu Ghurayb, blue-green pools and lakes have a prominent position, and the bombed palaces are reduced to a decorative background zone. With this, Ask manages to convey the grotesque in a beautiful, playful and unassuming manner.
Bård Ask (1976-) is one of Norway’s “young and promising” artists. He has been an assistant to Bjarne Melgaard and Børre Sæthre, and since his graduation from the Bergen National Academy of the Arts has had time to exhibit at prestigious institutions such as the Carrousel du Louvre and the Autumn Exhibition in Oslo. He works mostly with film and photography, and often uses new audiovisual media.
NORA SØRENSEN VAAGE