Originally from Copenhagen, Denmark, Mads Lynnerup is drawing attention to himself across the globe with his performance art, videos, installations and what art people call “social sculpture.” He uses everyday objects, occurrences and situations as his material. He employs child-like humor, giving his art playful and punning characteristics. Through his skeptical examinations and use of realism in the literal sense, he demonstrates that “things” are not what they seem.
Lynnerup spent some time here in Austin a few weeks ago and the fruits of his labor are on view at Lora Reynolds Gallery through March 1 in If You See Anything Interesting, Please Let Someone Know Immediately. This important exhibition highlights a broad spectrum of Lynnerup’s work from the last six years.
His installations include things like:
- A six-foot long band-aid (Band-Aid, 2006-2008)
- A lovely fountain made of dishes, forks, knives and glasses stacked high in the kitchen sink (Fountain, 2003)
- A fake gallery attendant made of a mannequin head and wig tucked behind a plywood counter decorated with flowers and catalogues (Gallery Counter, 2006)
- A titled poster that reads, “IF YOU SEE ANYTHING INTERESTING, PLEASE LET SOMEONE KNOW IMMEDIATELY.” (2007)
About the band-aid: This is not your usual reference to the icon for “hurried repair” or a safe covering for small cuts or blisters. This band-aid is quite large, measuring a ridiculous six feet in length. The artist created this site-specific work using over 3000 generic brand, medium-sized bandages. It’s an obsessive and repetitive project; each bandage was opened, peeled and then one by one, exactingly positioned and stuck directly to the clean, white gallery wall until finally, the overall cloning exercise resulted in the shape of its larger self.
On the opposite wall, you are confronted with eighteen drawings by the artist. The cartoon-like magic marker illustrations of over twenty-five different vehicles encompass a variety of makes and models, everything from futuristic electric cars to the classic Model T. Perhaps it’s the slick gallery-style frames in combination with the subject matter, but at first glance these car studies look like the perfect wall décor for a young boy’s bedroom. It’s not until you read the title of the work, Drawing Cars (Looking for a New Vehicle for My Work), that you realize the pun intended.
As objects, the framed drawings may distract the viewer from the real meaning of this piece. Without the title, this piece appears to be much more about the selling of art. I think the same effect could have been achieved had the drawings been taped to the wall or put into a sketch book. “Look again” and “look at everything again” are important lessons to be learned here, but the framing thing seems to be a last-minute addition for saleablity rather than a purposeful choice by the artist.
“Running” themes are featured among the short loop video documentaries created and performed by the artist; running water in the artist’s kitchen sink, tiring footage of the artist running to catch a city bus, cars that appear to run by themselves along city streets as well as a runaway grocery cart.
In the spirit of Bruce Nauman, Lynnerup uses “performance film” as an extension of sculpture. Lynnerup’s documentaries are graceful and sensitive to the image-making details, and he succeeds in conveying the drama and comedy we usually overlook or rarely examine. His installations are formulated with a balance of fiction and “reality show” tension. This combination works well in television and film as well as in our consciousness. The artist is clearly comfortable with his ability to make his audience wonder and question just as he does.
Lynnerup is a prolific artist. His art-making demonstrates a genuine understanding and demonstrable connection with artistic thought from Da Vinci to Duchamp. His work is indebted to an artist heritage that examines the world with a combination of wonder and skepticism.
A wonderful catalog is available at the gallery, featuring photographs and stills from Lynnerup’s previous exhibitions. An essay by Christopher Eamon, a Lynnerup fan and new media curator at New Art Trust in San Francisco, outlines the exhibition. Other essays and interviews are included and give the reader a well-rounded picture of the artist, his work and his young life.
At first, viewers might miss the old television set sitting directly on the sidewalk just outside the gallery. An ancient Zenith plays a series of images of 400+ other televisions the artist has been collecting for some time. As you leave the gallery however, the hefty object will be the first thing you see. Spending time in Lynnerup’s exhibit will surely refine your senses, open your mind and stir an appreciation for the humor and playful experience of examining the everyday object.
All images, unless otherwise noted, are courtesy of Lora Reynolds Gallery