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To answer the riddle no one has asked you to solve

TEXT! Art and such 1981-2020
Forfatter: Guttorm Nordø
Forlag: Idiot Press (Norge)

ARTIST: Guttorm Nordø talks about the immediate as the only guideline for his art. One of the finest, most risk-taking and wittiest art books of 2021?

(Note: The article is mostly machine-translated from Norwegian by Gtranslate)

"You can paint with whatever the hell you want," writes the visual artist Guttorm Nordø (b. 1960).

The newly published book TEXT! Art and such 1981-2020 (Idiot Press) is a continuation of a previous release ¡Ink! 1988-2019, a collection of marker paintings and marker drawings (2019). This time it is Nordø's texts, arranged for four decades from the 1980s until 2020, from the first fanzine texts he wrote as a young writer, to the critique of the art bureaucracy he delivered as an established visual artist, from the self – portrait of the artist as a young man in the text Litj- Hitler to an e-mail interview with Nordø by photographer May-Irene Aasen.

In addition to working continuously as a visual artist, Nordø has run a book café (public information) and played in bands (Angkor Watt), and his mail art collection has been purchased by the National Library. Nordø held a farewell exhibition for Deichman's main library in 2016.

Opportunity to protest

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Nordø is one of the leading managers of the fluxus- and dada-inspired art environment in Norway – where everything can be both art and crushed, and where the idea of ​​"here and now" dominates. Nordø itself has a background from Trondheim in a time of emergence of important political, art and action movements (the occupation of Vollan district prison in 1972, the UFFA movement from 1981, the establishment of the state Academy of Fine Arts in 1987 and the emergence of the punk movement, Wannskrækk / Dum Dum Boys, Studentersamfundet). Nordø's main tool is an enthusiasm for the potential power and strength of art. The goal is to get all the art out to the people, whether they want it or not. Thus, he also became a book café founder. For Nordø, it does not matter which art form or technique is used; it is the artist's presence that decides. It is the willingness to investigate and explore, the executive power, the joy of exchanging, and the ability to conduct political activity, that matters.

"I consumed more than three books a day."

In addition to a percussion instrument and a guitar system in the studio, Nordø also had a typewriter. He was also the lucky owner of Letraset sheets, and the Letraset sheets play a major part in the graphic design of this book. Ultimately, it is the attitude that is decisive: "a view of the world, a system of behavior, a hatred of materialism, ideals, and like-mindedness as an ideal, a belief in reality, a hostility to art for the sake of art, a hope for subsistence", in short, opposition to the "well-dressed". Art is an opportunity to protest.

Fascination with text

The book begins with a quote by author Erland Kiøsterud: "Every time I see Guttorm Nordø's ink drawings I do not know whether to laugh or cry." Nordø himself writes: "The artist who believes in clear speech is either insane or overwhelmed by ordinary rhetoric."

Nordø's collection of texts in this book opens up insight into a fascinating and engaging doubt about the choice of art format. “I have painted guitar amps in train compartments […]. I have painted with fingers, knives, shoes, wooden sticks, football, stencils, paper, spray cans, brushes and all sorts of objects. I have painted on at least 6000 matchboxes, on hundreds of transformer boxes, lampposts, loose windows, cardboard boxes, metal plates, wooden planks, doors, outdoor walls and fences and signs; on refrigerators, radios, ceramic tiles, televisions, envelopes, toasters, tables and chairs, cobblestones, roof tiles, bricks, gray, slate, mailboxes, barrels, guitars, watches, cars, bicycles, books, paper, huntonite and canvas – domestic, abroad, in cities and in the countryside. I have spilled paint on everything I have and had of clothes and shoes. Still, I hesitate to call myself a painter. "

The choice was between the word and the visual arts; the lines and colors in the visual art give impulses to words, but also vice versa.

Words are action (ref. P. 72). If words are not direct action, then they are at least an expression of an attitude, and attitude is the basis for action.

Along the way, an anti-interest in the potential of literature is articulated by a character assassination of the novel art: «[D] an imaginary world, the encircled, parallel life courses and situations that claim my empathy: the abduction from the everyday. What a joke! ” But the visual art is also unreliable: "At the same time as you receive the diploma for your exquisitely beautiful sense of image, a flock of little bastards hangs around your neck and will suffocate you due to the ugliness of your images or lack of content." Nordø writes so entertaining and at the same time with such a great risk that it is entirely possible, as he himself points out, that he may have become a visual artist by a misunderstanding. Doubts about the artistic format arise in the gap between the choice of linguistic or visual precision.

«I have painted on at least 6000 matchboxes, on hundreds of transformer boxes, lampposts, loose window cardboard boxes, metal plates, wooden planks, doors, outdoor walls and fences and signs; on refrigerators, radios, ceramic tiles, televisions, envelopes, toasters, tables and chairs, cobblestones, roof tiles, bricks, gray, slate, mailboxes, barrels, guitars, watches, cars, bicycles, books, paper, huntonite and canvas – domestic, abroad, in cities and in the countryside. " Guttorm Nordø

Nordø's linguistic awareness and fascination with text is related to a lifelong stay at the public library, and he points out that it should appear on his curriculum vitae: “I read books. Swallowed books. Stole books, collect books and arrange them systematically on bookshelves. During long, continuous periods, I consumed more than three books a day. My apartment was overgrown with books and paper, and life was complete paradise. ” Still, he finds that fiction has limited possibilities for DADApang !!!: "Do I lack humor, or are there just so damn few funny writers?" The answer to this question is Fredrik Stabel's celebration script Reason is a lonely thing (1984) and Nhonor image of a genius, Rolf Stenersen's artist biography of Edvard Munch (1945).

The final answer to the fact that he chose visual art is explained in the chapter «Language is trouble».

Since Nordø defines itself as a folk artist, it may be interesting to see that the text that describes a Christmas Eve horror experience "so heartbreaking and hideous" during the midnight mass in Nidaros Cathedral sometime in the 1980s, may seem (consciously or unconsciously) to stand in a historical context with the story «An old-fashioned Christmas Eve» from Asbjørnsen and Moe's collection.

The artist as very young

In the chapter "Children and art", Nordø talks about the immediate as the only guideline for artistry: "The only real thing about a work is the power it expresses: the energy that was present at the time of the act." Making pictures is "like answering the riddle no one has asked you to solve" (p. 241), "the artist must sacrifice Everything to the Truth (…) without revealing it".

As a young man, he learned from the child's drawing method (p. 84) in a here-and-now activity, "until she began to develop in the normal direction with houses, horses and princesses, while I set out to further develop the method" (p. 84). The text "An excursion to a better district" filler everything we have read before.

According to the book, the older Nordø criticized Dag Solhjell and "the taste elitists, critics, curators and bureaucrats, all of whom are eager to decide what really deserves respect". Here in Nordø's offensive two-point protest against what he perceives as a dressage of art: «1: Take a stand. 2: Shut up, keep working – and know that we know best. " This strategy should be brought up again in the debate about the Waste Ombudsman's scathing mention of art and artists.

TEXT! Art and such 1981-2020 is one of the finest,
most risk-averse and witty art books in 2021.

Marianne Solberg
Solberg is a new critic in Ny Tid.

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