Jon Benjamin Tallerås – Vagrancy and Idleness

September 15th–October 14th 2012

Knsthall Oslo is pleased to present Jon Benjamin Tallerås’s first major solo exhibition Lediggang og omkringdriven [Vagrancy and Idleness]. Tallerås recently graduated from the Oslo National Academy of the Arts, but his improvised actions, informal sculpture and low-profile infiltrations belong to a tradition of urban wandering that reaches back at least as far as André Breton’s photographic expeditions in 1920s Paris. His exploratory approach to the city can also be seen as a side-effect of his informal education as a graffiti writer. The vagrancy and idleness of the exhibition’s title was historically a criminal offence under Norwegian law.A key work in the exhibition is the sculpture Inntrinn, Opptrinn og Tristesse, an apparently abstract form that is in fact a cast of the accidental oozing of asphalt down a set of steps on a street in central Oslo. Tallerås set up an unauthorised construction-site tent around the steps and spent seven days and nights building up layers of silicon to make a mould, encountering every kind of curious nocturnal visitor in the process. As Tallerås writes, ‘The mistake with the asphalt looks like some kind of ornament and I wanted to archive a random part of the city and process it into a sculpture. A way of stealing a part of the city without stealing it, and a way of giving this small beautiful mistake its due attention.’

Etyder [Studies] is a series of analogue photographs made with a ten-second self-timer, capturing Tallerås’s improvised physical explorations of ‘spaces that don’t have any function for humans or that for other reasons are rarely used’. Limiting himself to one photograph at each location, Tallerås leaves the final image to chance, and the artist’s body describes a series of off-balance hieroglyphic shapes as he scrambles away from the camera and climbs and clings to the architecture. Another series of urban landscape photographs, Gaps and Spaces, are collaged over with tape that masks out everything but the incidental voids and channels between buildings. The short video Climbing, Swinging, Leaping, projected onto an improvised screen draped over security fencing, documents forays into these gaps and spaces, where Tallerås’s fluid navigation of his unorthodox routes is set against the steady flow of passers by.

The exhibition is completed by a major new sculptural work, improvised from found materials during the exhibition’s installation period, that interrupts the architecture of the gallery and connects it to the simultaneously controlled and chaotic development of the surrounding city.

The artists’ book Casual Maneuver: A Step Away From It by Ruben Steinum and Jon Benjamin Tallerås will be launched at Kunsthall Oslo during the exhibition. The photographs in the book document almost one hundred unannounced temporary sculptures made in public space over the past three years. Steinum and Tallerås work by clandestinely reconfiguring whatever mobile materials they find on their journeys through various cities. These mostly gentle but unlikely and unexpected transient rearrangements of urban junk and street furniture recall the methods of visual poetry or musique concrète as much as they acknowledge the formal language of contemporary sculpture.

Jon Benjamin Tallerås (b. 1984) lives and works in Oslo. His work has been presented in Oslo at solo exhibitions including Semikolon Galleri and the Pushwagner Windowbox Galleri, and in group exhibitions including Word Perfect 2.0, NoPlace; Acting On a Tip, Grünerløkka Kunsthall and The Sacred Fear, an offsite project of Kunsthall Oslo curated by Mohamed Ali Fadlabi. With Fadlabi, Tito Frey & Andreas Hald Oxenvad , Tallerås organises the ongoing exhibition series One Night Only at UKS, Oslo. He received his BA degree from the Oslo National Academy of Art in 2011.