Jakob Emdal


11. Feb 01. Apr 2012

What influences the behaviour of the viewer in the exhibition space? And with what techniques are we guided or controlled by the institution? These are some of the questions Jakob Emdal raises in his first solo exhibition in Denmark, in which he explores the ideologies behind modern exhibition design.

With a large wall installation that bisects the large back space on the first floor at Overgaden, Jakob Emdal performs a spatial intervention that creates a displacement of the existing exhibition space. The wall marks a clear staging: The inside of the wall structure is revealed to the viewer, pictures hang from the ceiling in front of the wall, and the title plates are detached from their usual informative function and instead appear to be unique, delicate objects in themselves.

At an exhibition, everything from the colour of the walls to the font of the title plates is carefully composed and unconsciously affects the viewer’s experience. Emdal focuses on the details that usually go unnoticed as the exhibition’s unremarked premise, and by over-exposing such elements as the wall and the frame, he blurs the usual distinction between artwork and display.

Alongside the highly-controlled exhibition design, however, a more personal track also runs through Jakob Emdal’s exhibition. Photographs documenting his everyday activities, such as setting the breakfast table, provide an informal contrast to the wall installation. Similarly, the framing of the photographs introduces a new materiality that identifies the staging itself as a basic premise.

With inspiration drawn from, amongst others, the French exhibition architect Jean-Francois Bodin, Jakob Emdal breaks with the white cube’s illusion of neutrality, and makes the exhibition itself visible as a constructed situation. Through this focus, he explores the fracture surface between the institution’s authoritarian voice and the viewer’s subjective experience of the art space.

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