Bjarne Melgaard’s 2014 Biennial installation presents a funhouse atmosphere charged with sex, violence and societal ruin.
Melgaard intends for his installation to communicate the effects of what some scientists call the Anthropocene, a new geological age created by human activity, especially through global warming. He proposes that our collective psyches have been abused and damaged in much the same way the environment has, resulting in sadism and an utter disregard for humanity.
Projected on the wall are videos and images that Melgaard sourced from the so-called “deep web,” a portion of the Internet that must be hacked rather than simply searched. Melgaard treats the deep web as a kind of depraved societal unconscious, from which he surfaces nightmarish video shot from real life, featuring, cult behavior, torture, genocidal attacks, scenes of mass suicide, war and terrorism, including footage of the bombings at last year’s Boston Marathon.
Melgaard has explained that the installation responds in part to Claude Prosper Jolyot de Crébillon’s 1742 satire, The Sofa: A Moral Tale, a French libertine novel. This tradition of transgressive erotic literature is taken up in the work of the young contemporary writer Travis Jeppesen, who was also a point of reference for Melgaard and whose sound installation is presented in the same room.
Overall, the installation reflects back the dystopian image streams that we ordinarily choose to ignore, forcing us to confront what Melgaard sees are the symptoms of civilization’s decay.
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