artist / participant
Death and disaster is the topic of Bad Days. However, Niels Bonde's source of material is as everyday as it gets. His paintings are based on clippings from Danish and international news media. Bonde enlarges the clippings and has them printed on canvas, with fragments of the accompanying article.
"The bad news" in Bonde's works refer to events and persons that we have all read about in the paper or watched on the News. However, the main subject of the story has been removed – or in fact painted over with oil painting in matching colours that seem disturbingly beautiful against the disastrous background.
The North-Korean leader Kim Jung Il has gone. Also the bodies on a heavenly beach in Thailand after the Tsunami. Only visible as outlines in the sand hidden underneath the almost abstract surfaces of paint.
The beholder is thus confronted with a painting where the actual essence is missing. Niels Bonde has taken the liberty of deleting unwanted persons and events from his works.
This remarkable kind of censorship is also employed on Pia Kjærsgaard the leader of the rightwing Danish national party "Dansk Folkeparti". In a computer edited video work of Niels Bonde she has become invisible. Standing on a rostrum one hears her voice but she has been reduced to a colourful shadow moving on the screen. The take is from a public meeting on Constitution Day where Kjærsgaard was speaking about the Muhammed cartoons and her interpretation of freedom of speech. In his video Bonde allows her to talk – but in absentia if one might say so.
Bad Days expresses a kind of wishful thinking: Bonde removes all the things that, in his mind, make the world crueller. This does not mean that his works are naïve. On the contrary they imply an ironic gesture: the traces of persons and events missing are still there. It is possible for the beholder to fill in the holes and imagine what is no longer there.
In this way Bonde's work is also about forgetfulness and memory in light of the constant flow of news nowadays. Questions of historical visibility or invisibility are addressed, but they also point out the power of a culture based on images. Bonde thus invites his audience to reflect on the way images and memory is created.
Since the beginning of the 1990'ies Niels Bonde has been among the leading figures in Danish media art and he can look back onto a body of work that ranges from surveillance installations featuring fluffy toy animals with eerie camera eyes to computer designed carpets reflecting the way lives are lived in specific surroundings such as an art lover's living room.
With his latest project Bonde has returned to one of the most traditional medias in art history, but the show in Galerie Asbæk is by no way a departure from his previous themes and tools. As always Bonde turns his attention to social frameworks in relation to systems of control having an influence on our everyday life. Bad Days portrays a society of neglect and self-denial, hiding in the spotlight of full media attention.
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