Ransom Notes: Selected artwork 1983-1993
29th April–3rd June 2022
Please join us for the opening on Thursday 28th April 7–9pm.
Kunsthall Oslo is very pleased to present Ransom Notes, the first-ever exhibition in Norway of work by the legendary New York artist Rammellzee (1960–2010). Rammellzee made seminal contributions to graffiti culture in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and explored new directions for painting, sculpture and performance in the following decades. What marked him out was his ability to alchemize the street culture of his youth into a complete theoretical system and transform his life into a continuous and total act of creation.
Rammellzee earned his cult status in the early years of the hip hop scene, and confirmed it with the creation of his Garbage Gods, the home-made cyborg costumes he worked on and used in public appearances from the late 1980s until his death. But between these two phases of his career he channelled much of his considerable creative energy into the formal art world, producing a body of work whose freestyle invention and inspirational power is as relevant now as it ever was. The exhibition Ransom Notes at Kunsthall Oslo focuses on this period, roughly the decade 1983–93, bringing together painting, drawing, assemblage and sculpture, along with texts and rare archive material. The works on show, with their personal mythologies, mystic science, magpie aesthetics and astral perspective, evoke a collision between Robert Rauschenberg, Afrika Bambaataa, Joseph Beuys and Sun Ra—though Rammellzee, of course, refused to be placed in relation to any mythology other than his own.
Download the exhibition guide in pdf format.
Download Underground Inner Thinking: A RAMM:ELL:ZEE Reader, a collection of interviews, lectures and texts by Rammellzee that formed part of the exhibition.
The exhibition is curated by Kunsthall Oslo and Maxwell Wolf of New Canons. Wolf was the co-curator of the major Rammellzee retrospective Racing for Thunder at Red Bull Arts in New York in 2018.
The curators would like to thank David Fouks, Alain-Dominique Gallizia, Johnny Grizot, Yaki Kornblit, Henk Pinjenberg, Serge Ziegler and the Dutch Graffiti Library.
Image: RAMM:ELL:ZEE, Gargoylian Books of Stock, 1986. Courtesy Collection Gallizia.