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NIGHT SPLITTER
SHADOW CODEX
LOOK AT ME

Three short video works by contemporary artists Kaari Upson, Saara Ekström, and Christian Falsnaes.

Night Splitter
Kaari Upson / United States / 2019 / 16 min / Festival Premiere

Kaari Upson’s ‘Night Splitter’ belongs to a group of works that focus on the artist’s childhood home in San Bernardino – a dilapidated suburb east of Los Angeles – and on the old tree that provided shade to the family grounds. In an almost exorcist performance, Upson appears as both herself and her own doppelgänger in a grotesque disguise created with face paint and wigs. At the same time, the ominous doubling finds its expression in a raving, trance-inducing monologue, where the repetitions form mantra-like patterns. Day and night seem to be taking place simultaneously, as we watch the tree from her childhood being felled and cut apart, and while Upson (and her double) wander restlessly around the urban landscapes of California. A haunting work with an almost occult power, where the self is reduced to a medium for obsessions and anxious fantasies.

Shadow Codex
Saara Ekström / Finland / 2021 / 13 min / World Premiere

The graffiti on the grey concrete walls of the disused prison in Turku are like cave paintings from a lost civilisation in the Finnish artist Saara Ekström’s ‘Shadow Codex’, which, with a simple but overwhelmingly suggestive approach, lets text, drawings and the shabby pinup posters speak their own language about incarceration and institutionalised punishment. Each cell is a gallery, an indexical imprint of the anonymous inmates’ minds, from a past conjured forth by the film’s timeless black and white 16mm images, with a gloomy melancholy that borders on madness. But, at the same time, the surveillance machinery, the architecture and the many layers of engravings tell us about a society which, in its attempt to maintain law and order, creates monuments of its own shadow – set against John Cage’s ‘Perilous Night’.

Look at Me
Christian Falsnæs / Denmark / 2020 / 40 min / Festival Premiere

Authority, autonomy and one’s own complicity are elements in the transgressive situations that the artist Christian Falsnaes establishes in ‘Look at Me’, where he, in collaboration with the actress Minni Katrina Mertens, directs different groups of people at a night club, a gallery and an open-air festival. The boundary between subject and object – and between spectator and participant – is fleeting until you are finally invited on stage yourself. Throughout the entire proceedings, however, there is only one director. When Falsnaes and Mertens take turns to give both the others and each other instructions, it happens in an interplay where dominance and submission are the constants. ‘Look at Me’ embodies the kinds of soft and hard authority that we more or less consciously are subjected to everywhere in modern Western society, and it is made as both a documentary and a video work in its own right.