Jockum Nordström & Marcel Dzama

Dance By Correspondence

16.10–17.11 2019, CFHILL, Stockholm, Sweden

From Press release:

Sometimes, the works of Jockum Nordström and Marcel Dzama can seem provocatively similar, at least in an art world where conceptions of what makes for good art can be fairly narrow. Each artist is expected to nurture their own expression. Find their own language. But why is that, really? That’s not the ultimate purpose of art, after all. Rather, art is about making meetings and conversations happen through images. After all, when we human beings like somebody, we tend to adapt our language to match theirs. It’s a way of creating closeness.
In 2011, New York-based Marcel Dzama and Jockum Nordström initiated a correspondence by mail. They had known each other since the early 2000s; they’re both successful artists, and they both work with collages. Their worlds are close to one another, both orbiting the phenomena of music and motion, play and mischief. But their worlds aren’t completely identical. While Jockum’s environments tend to be the more run-down, shabbier, jazzier neighbourhoods, where saxophones and throaty alto’s vibratos wail, Marcel Dzama is more at home at the opera, or the theatre. Perhaps not the most distinguished of venues, but nonetheless places where people have paid for tickets and dressed up to enjoy a night out. Performances featuring extravagant sets and costumes, where more is more.
As part of their correspondence, the two artists sent cut-out characters and details to one another. This ritual gradually developed into a kind of exquisite corpse drawing game, in which new works began to emerge on both sides of the Atlantic. One of them might make the walls, and the other would place a bust in the room–but without any knowledge of the dimensions of the space. A man in a jockey’s hat is in another room, where he is joined by a troupe of ballerinas with slender, extended arms. And so they carried on.
It resulted in an exhibition, which was titled The Donkey Prefers Garbage to Gold. On the one hand, it’s easy to visualise a Nordström/Dzama donkey, moving very precisely, but still miserable, its crooked legs stubbornly shuffling over to a pile of garbage, walking right past the gold without paying it any heed. On the other hand, of course, this is a primeval, symbolic image of the artist, who tends to be drawn rather to that which is discarded and broken than to that which is perfect, shining, seamless, and unblemished.

All the works in the exhibition (except one) involve some sort of room, perhaps a theatre set, cluttered to the bursting point with figures, tables, and other objects. There is a kind of impeded dance going on here, in which everybody involved is protective of their space, most discrete and focused. Their motions reveal nothing. Are they dancing with each other, or are they standing completely still?

In the last few years, Jockum Nordström has exhibited in the US, Ireland, and France; Who’s Sleeping on My Pillow (along with Mamma Andersson) at David Zwirner, While the Mortar Dries at Douglas Hyde Gallery in Dublin, and an exhibition at the Swedish Institute in Paris and the LaM museum in Lille, France 2012, Why Is Everything A Rag, Contemporary Arts Center in New Orleans, USA, 2017, Rymden tystar ljudet, Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp, Jockum Nordström & Dan Wolgers: Ej funktionstestad, Karlskrona konsthall, Sweden, 2016, När ingen vandrar vägen fram, då vandrar vägen själv sitt damm, Galleri Magnus Karlsson, Stockholm, Sweden, 2014, For the Insects and the Hounds, David Zwirner Gallery, London.
Marcel Dzama is originally from Winnipeg, Canada, but has lived in Brooklyn, New York for the last few years. Marcel Dzama had a major solo exhibition at Musée d’Art Contemporain in Montréal, Canada, which ended up going on tour. 2018: Ya es hora, Galeria Helga de Alvear, Madrid, 2017: Drawing on a Revolution, La Casa Encendida, Madrid, Spain Revolution Blues, Galleri Magnus Karlsson, Stockholm, Sweden, 2016: Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon: Forgetting the Hand, David Zwirner, New York Marcel Dzama and Raymond Pettibon: Let us compare mythologies, David Zwirner, London A Flower of Evil, Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf, 2015: Campeonato de Guadalajara: Marcel Dzama and EduAardo Sarabia, Travesía Cuatro, Guadalajara, Mexico The Fallen Fables, Crown Point Press, San Francisco Mischief Makes a Move, World Chess Hall of Fame, St. Louis, Missouri.

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