Walking through the first floor of Matias Faldbakken’s exhibit, Oslo, Texas, at the Power Station is an exhilarating hazard — spent bullets are strewn all over the floor like a Wiley Coyote trap or perilous Marx Brothers bait. One half expects to go reeling, arms windmilling, up into the air and then flat on your back, defeated. But picking through the shells — nudging them or violently kicking them out of the way to make a path — is a welcome challenge that feels like a transgression in some sacred space.
Upstairs on the second floor, Faldbakken has stacked a wall of white boxes that bear nonsensical text designed by the artist. The bent energy of the font on the boxes against the white background of the cardboard lends the stagnant towers a virile kind of speed, as if the boxes contain some really hip, super flashy product that will change your life and make everyone love you. Propped against the back of the wall of boxes are framed prints and small collaged paintings. One is a newspaper page that’s been painted white, all but the edges; another is a series of photographs of stockpiled metals (or was it ammunition?). All the framed work shows literal erasure or poses the threat of it.
Another posing threat: outside on the set of stairs that climbs the side of the building, Faldbakken has hoisted two metal shipping crates, bound them with levered straps, and then winched the living crud out of them, crushing the stalwart containers. They dangle overhead, while the straps, which you must step over to access the building, wrap the landing beneath.
Faldbakken’s work here serves as an apt corollary to the Power Station project itself, the brilliant brainchild of Dallas collectors Alden and Janelle Pinnell, with the expert aid of manager Danielle Avram Morgan. The aim of the Power Station is to bring challenging, progressive work by the world’s best emerging artists into the Station’s space, where they are given the freedom and funds to do as they wish. The Power Station has a frontier mentality — it has a long, daring vision about bringing art to Dallas, creating a open arena for artists, and hopefully creating a paradigm shift in how patrons of the arts understand their power in helping shape the culture of Dallas as a whole.
Indeed, the artists that have participated, Oscar Tuazon and Faldbakken, have both looked upon the opportunity to interact with the space a bit like cowboys did the Wild West — it’s a wide open space, outside the prescriptive orders of almost everything.