An accomplished painter who has exhibited throughout Europe, Anne Katrine Dolven has since 1991 focused her distinctive vision on the making of videos. From April 6 to June 28, 1999, the Philadelphia Museum of Art will present Anne Katrine Dolven, the artist's first American museum exhibition, featuring two of her most recent works. Still Life (1998) and short happiness last long (1996), both reflect the spare, minimal sensibility that Dolven developed as a painter, as well as the specific concern with effects of light, texture, color and perception that distinguishes her video work.
Dolven's videos are recorded with a still camera, require no editing, involve little added incident, and are nearly as self-contained as paintings. With inspired simplicity informed by her profound sensitivity to the landscape, light and painting traditions of northern Europe, Dolven heightens the viewer's awareness of distortions in time and space contained within the video image.
Still Life's subject is the familiar, centuries-old genre for which the piece is titled. Presented on a monitor among the paintings in 20th-Century Gallery 178, Still Life focuses on a live, white tulip flower as it is brushed with red paint. While the formerly alabaster flower gives way to its scarlet incarnation, the viewer realizes that the video has, in fact, presented the process in reverse: the tulip was originally red, and was subsequently painted white. This simple narrative, which recalls the magical capacity for illusion that is attributed to painters, becomes a contemplative yet tension-filled allegory about art's many layers of fiction, and video's particular ability to distort, alter or subvert the affects of time and activity.
short happiness last long, exhibited in Video Gallery 179, confronts the subtle but essential differences between photography, film and video, and their relationships to the viewer's varied expectations. It is shown in a dark gallery that suggests a cinema, an environment that frames its spare, silhouetted scene of a young girl and a bird sitting on a tree at dawn. The only disruption to the quiet calm is wind rustling through the bird's feathers, and the movements of the girl as she distractedly runs her fingers through her hair or playfully dangles her legs, a scene that the artist describes as "a moment full of happiness that could as well be something else." short happiness last long was shot by Dolven on 16 mm film, a medium that successfully captures variations in light and that is composed, in Dolven's words, of "real pictures, one after the other." It was originally created for exhibition in a gallery on East Berlin's former Wilhelm Pieck Strasse (named for the first Communist president of East Germany), which is now called Torstrasse ("door" or "portal" street). This underscores the video's depiction of a "threshold" experience, full of expectation and suspense. With a title inspired by the Norwegian expression for "transitory happiness," short happiness last long invites the viewer to contemplate the divide between a real scene and its transformation into a timeless, projected image.
Anne Katrine Dolven will present a gallery talk about her work (date to be announced). Call (215) 763-8100 for information.