Utanförskap / Exclusion / Eksklusjon (2014)

A trilogy by Sabina Jacobsson

«Sammankomsten» / «The Gathering» / «Sammenkomsten» (2014) «Besanningen» / «The Truthfulness» / «Bekreftelsen» (2013) «Uppgörelsen» / «The Confrontation» / «Oppgjøret» (2014)

Text: Eva Løveid Mølster / @evabout

On one of the concrete walls at the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp where so many people lost their lives in horrible ways during the destructions of Nazi Germany, you can find one single iron plaque with the inscription:

Totgeschlagen. Totgeschwiegen. Den Homosexuellen offern des Nationalsozialismus (Beaten to Death. Silenced to Death. The Homosexual Victims of the National Socialism)

Homosexuality is still disdained, even in our own Norwegian social democracy. Until 1972 it was forbidden by law in Norway. Not until 1993 civil partnership for same-sex couples, and as late as 2009 the civil union law was superseded by a legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Today we have a Minister of Children, Equality and Social Inclusion who in 2010 posted the following tweet: «wondering if it is totally ok that kindergartens are reading gay fairy tales for small children? ».

Bergman, Viola and Lynch

Sabina Jacobsson’s video trilogy Exclusion has many facets. You can read it as the artist’s homage to her artistic idols. It can also be seen as a story on human lust and selfish ambition. But it also has an even more severe side, when you experience it as a complex image on our own desire for exclusion.

Each of the three videos is single appropriations of art works by the three artists who have had a great impact on Jacobsson and her own art: Ingmar Bergman, Bill Viola and David Lynch. Each of their characteristic storytelling has inspired her, and we find traces of Bergman’s interpersonal drama, Viola’s aesthetic dwelling and Lynch’s surrealism throughout the trilogy.

In «The Gathering» we see the main character arriving at a party too late, and being warmly welcomed by the host Terje who introduces him to the remaining guests. This is where the main character meets his lover for the first time. In the next scene they meet for the second time and their conversation could be characterized by uncertainty, strong will and an almost absurd lust. Here Jacobson firmly navigates through the two scenes directly appropriated from Bergman’s Face to Face (1976). The dialogue is largely identical but the Bergmanian charge is replaced by a raw directness that makes the attraction between the main character and his lover to seem impossible and at the same time inevitable.

Lust and selfish ambition

What is lust? And what is love? According to the Greek philosopher Plato we are firstly attracted to another person’s body and physical charm. Gradually we become more aware of the other person’s spiritual, psychological and cognitive side. And in the beauty of the spirit we find love.

From this we could say that we need lust. We learn to love through lust. But this is not how everyone sees it. When religion is used to control people and to create power, lust can be seen as something ugly, dangerous and impious. Lust becomes something we must silence and kill while spirituality appears as the genuine, right and good.

In «The Truthfulness», Jacobsson dwells on colour, sound, movements and shapes. Bill Viola’s The Greeting (1995) and Jacopo Pontoromos Visitation (1529) works as melodically touches while Jacobsson directs determinedly. The sound lies as a shadow carpet in the background and we hear only this one, strong «RELEASE ME» as a clear whisper. Lust is addictive and you focus mostly on your own need for the other one to look at you, see you and touch you. But when the other one does no longer answer your approaches, and rather gives attention to another person, your lust is overshadowed by a painful loneliness.

Our desire for exclusion

Several art works from Jacobssons oeuvre thematizes the cultural meaning of «inside» and «outside»; such as Las Palmas (2005), Tropical Islands and Depots (2006) and Indoor Happiness (2008). The theme develops further in Boxing Memories (2013). There we find the main character out skiing all alone in the cold and dark Norwegian winter evening. He also feels excluded from the Norwegian society and discusses its exclusiveness with his immigrant colleague.

This inside-outside theme is further refined in Exclusion. Here Jacobsson lets the main character experience exclusion from the one he lusts. The context in the three videos is the homosexual love affair and the drama reinforces when the border between friend and lover is unclear.

In «The Confrontation» Jacobsson plays with one of the episodes from David Lynchs TV-series Hotel Room (1993). The severe plot and the fundamental consequences of the main characters reactions, is being served to us with laughter and spectacle accompanied by light lobby music. A third out in the video the lovers former lover, Marius, lies on the hotel bed of the main character and reads aloud from Camille Paglias Sexual Personae. This reference enlightens the artwork’s theme as well as the artist’s method. Through personal studies of other artist’s works, Sabina Jacobsson presents an image on our own ability and will to exclude our fellow humans. The art work’s theme exceeds an interpersonal level when the drama is set in a homosexual context and we sense the contours of systemized exclusion. 

With support by Norwegian Artist Foundation and Norwegian Art Council