Mine is bigger than yours - or Adjust your brain a little

The solo-presentation of Oscar Guermouche at Kalmar Konstmuseum is pumping male adrenaline and creating a slick white orderly space aesthetics at the same time. It is coherent, albeit or because of these opposites.

 

In a video triptych the artist assembles and dissembles his weapon AK5 with a green sack over his head. Associations to the sack lead to Guantanamo and captivity, but the artist is wearing a suit and do it freely. The suit, the other male traditional uniform signals something else. The two other parts show the artist performing push-ups and the other let us follow the movements during inspections of soldiers. It is interesting to think about the relation between structures in the military service and the society as an entirety. The videos are tied together symbolically in the form of a triptych.

 

How to construct a male identity?

The title ”Ordnung muss sein” sound like a quotation from a German WWII-soldier, but is taken from the Swedish ranger regiment where Oscar Guermouche did his military service.

 

In “Männerphantasien” texts describing the male body is being transcribed with traditional oil-paint onto white canvases in size 150 by 120 cm, filling the long walls of the museum. The fragments are taken from literature, written by men. Following the conceptual heritage. Existential writers like Jean-Paul Sartre share space with detective stories, adventure novels or famous classical writers like Alexandre Dumas or Ernest Hemingway. The texts are full of admiration and lust for the male body, written by men only.

 

Other parts of the exhibition relate to pornography collected from the internet and saved as an archive with labels on computer discs. “We want to go to Moscow” is a work with painted text on Swedish flags, taken from marching songs and other information given to soldiers in the Swedish ranger regiment. Connecting the dots between sexuality, erection and warfare.

 

The small triptych of male environments from a sports centre borrow form from constructivism. As spectator you immediately fill the space with content. It is a hard sad environment.

Urinals in straight lines. Marcel Duchamps in duplication. 

Pipes for water to the showers in a lonesome pattern on the white glazed tiles.

Everyday environments, shaping us into citizens.

 

And here we are. It is 2011.

How to be Bruce Willis and at the same time drag a stroller with a baby?

How to go blindfolded through the toy-stores full of dark warrior-attributes for young boys?

Think of the Lego-toys made by Zbigniew Libera. How to train a child.

How do we construct male identity and how do we relate to it? What are the connecting dots in society - can we find it in literature, film, internet, pornography, military service?

How to skip the stereotypes?

 

I came to think about recent films about war, since civil wars are on my mind and in the news every day now. Armadillo is a documentary about Danish soldiers going to Afghanistan to the British-Danish army base with the same name, Armadillo. A film by the Danish filmmaker Janus Metz. I had to see it in parts, since it is painful to follow how war affects people. Understanding and sympathy for the civilians from the beginning slowly changes into a more coarsen view on people, the people they are there to protect. To become indifferent might be one way of surviving the impossible task. The soldiers play war-games and watch pornography in their spare-time. They give candy to children and sometimes pay inhabitants money when they happen to kill their animals. Worse is to experience when civilians are killed by Danish grenades.

 

I also recall the documentary about lawless Somalia, where another Danish journalist, Rasmus Krath, finds and interviews pirates in a pirate-village in Somalia. In the streets you see men and their weapons. Women don’t live their life in public, they work hard with domestic duties.  It’ s a man’s world. Created by many years without a functioning government, police-force or judicial system. Rasmus Krath brings six kilo of banknotes with him. As a foreigner you have to be guarded by mercenaries. Kidnapping and killings seem more everyday and ordinary than the opposite. Most men chew khat.

 

I wrote down the explanation why one of the men was chewing khat.

- It adjusts the brain a little.

 

Makes one become more indifferent?

 

Explanations on why war are necessary.

Explanations on why men have to be in a certain way to be real men.

All explanations do the same:

It adjusts the brain.

But still don’t make any sense.

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