Bjørn Melhus: Eastern_Western_Park

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December 21, 2005 - January 22, 2006
Honolulu Museum of Art

Exhibition Overview

This presentation of Bjørn Melhus's major video installation is the second exhibition in a new series of works by contemporary masters, which began February 2005 with an exhibition of paintings by Neo Rauch.

Eastern_Western_Park is built conceptually on two sets of stereotypes prevalent in the Western world. The first comprises classic and often thoroughly misunderstood images of Native Americans and cowboys of the Old West, as presented through the best-selling popular novels of the German author Karl May (1842-1912). His stories, which were later serialized on German television, were based on a combination of propagandistic views of the American West and his own imagination. Significantly, May never actually visited the American West, yet his stories were hugely popular and are still published, including in English translation.

Superimposed on this are equally stereotypical and ambiguous images of the Japanese schoolgirl. Whie these images are generated primarily in Japan, they have taken hold in the Western mind as well. As Melhus himself admits, his interpretation of such images are solely based on imagination and media influences. As such, Eastern_Western_Park plays on two coexisting sets of imaginary perceptions, simultaneously widespread and naive. The entire installation is a vivid commentary on the degree to which many of our views of the world are informed by nonsense, with all the reality of a theme park.

Melhuss exhibitions are known for their rapid assault of images, washes of color, and barrages of audio snippets, often using multiple video monitors and projectors to accomplish exciting and provocative multi-media installations. Melhus has exhibited his work at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, Long Beach Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, and a variety of museums in Europe and Japan.

Born in Kirchheim/Tech in southwestern Germany in 1966, Melhus has worked and studied in Europe and the United States.

The Contemporary Masters series began in December 2004 with Neo Rauch: The Leipziger Volkszeitung Collection 1994-2002, the only North American solo museum exhibition of Neo Rauch's work at that time.

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