This autumn in NO.5 Per Barclay is showing a series of pictures based on the ‘Adolf Guns’ of the Trondenes Battery in Harstad. The exhibition has been mounted in collaboration with the Festival of North Norway, and can be regarded as a continuation of his photographic project of the last 20 years, in which he has explored the optical potential of architectural reflections in water, wine, milk and oil.
The historic war memorial is reflected in a pool of oil down in the actual gun emplacement, and can be read both as a direct reflection and a reformulation of reality. As with his well known interior reflections of among other buildings the Palazzo Torino from 1990, we are confronted in these pictures with ambivalent feelings not only about what we actually see, but also about the often diverging narrative and formal aesthetic qualities of the subject. The reflections of the palazzo may look indescribably beautiful, but as suspenseful, disturbing stagings of a culturally significant space the gun pictures are also charged with thematic ambivalence. As Barclay himself has put it, there are ‘wars over oil’ everywhere; but it is just as much the reflections of forms and volumes that are his main artistic concern.
Per Barclay (b. 1955) lives and works in Paris. He trained in Italy in the 1980s, and the main emphasis in his exhibition activities has been on international galleries and institutions, including Fondazione Merz, Turin (2008) and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2003). He represented Norway at the Venice Biennale in 1990, had a solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo (1998) and was Festival Exhibitor at Bergen Kunsthall in 2001.