The first show of the “Silk Peace Art Road” – SPAR – Installation
SPAR is a photo-based, multimedia installation by Jan Oberg which was shown for the first time in the context of the Venice Biennale 2019, the world’s largest and most important event for contemporary art.
The European Cultural Centre, ECC, in Venice had invited Oberg to exhibit at its exhibition ”Personal Structures – Identities” arranged at Palazzo Mora and other venues as one of 170 selected artists from around the world (May 11 to November 24, 2019).
Jan Oberg is an art photographer as well as an experienced peace and future researcher and peace studies professor. More about him here.
What is it?
…the SPAR installation represents a new way of integrating photography with painting and artefacts. Its basic features are photographs (single and collages) printed on canvas and painted on and into plywood panels by acrylic brushstrokes and to that various objects from the various countries that appear in the installation have been added.
It has four panels and each stand leaning against the wall on podiums covered in fabrics. And over each panel hangs an over-painted, framed painting tilting outwards, inspired by the Chinese ”
To the right side of the installation itself is a wall with an AI robot, three red Chinese ”duilians” (New Year wishes), a large Silk Road calligraphy as well as two iPods with two movies of about 45 minutes. All represent cooperative projects with local Chinese artists.
On that wall, you see also two iPads. One with a movie, ”One Road” which contains a kaleidoscopic series of clips from Oberg’s trips and from art exhibitions; the other ”One Journey” contains a series of shorter explanations by Oberg about the project, the Belt and Road Initiative, BRI, as well as a short movie about paper-making in China – all with references to the installation.
In other words, it’s a complex, holistic and multi-faceted installation that can be perceived from many different points of departure.
… the installation is about the changing world order, the rise of the East/Orient and China to the right in the installation (and lighter colours) and the decline of the West to the left (darker colours). It’s about the hopes for a more peaceful cooperative and multi-polar future world when the US Empire will have disappeared.
It contains images from China 1983 and 2018, Myanmar 1983, Iran 2012-2016, Somalia 1977 and 2012, Kazakhstan 2010, Iraq 2003, Syria 2016 and Venice 2015. (The installation may, as time goes by, be expanded with new panels and images from other countries participating in the BRI)
… the installation has been created to build bridges and create dialogues. It seeks to perceive the huge Chinese-Initiated Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as an opportunity, while also (as stated in the accompanying text) being aware of the potential problems this gigantic problem could cause.
It conveys the immense diversity of peoples and cultures and, instead of making a firm statement about the world and its change, or about China, it does raises questions about future developments in a way that it extremely open for diverse interpretations and dialogue with the visitors, or audiences.
Thus, it should serve both aesthetic purposes and socio-cultural dynamics for the future.
Interactivity – Dialogues across cultures
The installation has a documented potential for stimulating dialogue among visitors. Mr Oberg has been present in the room where it is shown at Palazzo Mora about 6-8 hours per day during 3 weeks in May.
When given a short intro to what the basic idea of SPAR is, visitors from all corners of the world have spontaneously engaged in dialoguing about what’s going on in our world – risk and hopes – what the future may bring humanity and what they believe about Orient/China-Occident/US relations.
It would be great if such civilizational dialogues could take place where SPAR is shown in the year to come.
Independence and integrity
Both as a researcher, directing the Transnational Foundation for Peace & Future Research (TFF) in Sweden and as an art photography, Jan Oberg is a strong believer in freedom of creation and expression and in win-win co-operation and networking synergy.
Over decades he has remained independent on governments and corporations as well as art galleries.
SPAR is financed exclusively by the artist and a few supportive friends. No government or corporate funds have been involved in its research, development, creation, or exhibition.
SPAR to travel after Venice: Become a
Jan Oberg wants SPAR to be shown around the world after its first show in Venice. He wants it to be shown for instance, at art galleries, museums, art spaces, municipal halls, art academies, at international gatherings, or in whatever relevant and aesthetic context the interested party would see fit.
He wants it to “meet the people along the new Silk Roads”…
That is the SPAR tour – getting the installation to be shown along the Belt And Road Initiative (BRI) countries – such as Belgrade, Athens, Istanbul, Damascus, St. Petersburg/Moscow, Tblisi, Yerevan, Baku, Tehran, Ashgabat, Tashkent, Astana, Dushanbe, Bishtek, Islamabad and around China – or go first to China and then travel West in 2020-2023.
It feels natural, of course, that it be shown along the BRI – the old and new Silk Road but it could also, eventually, be shown in Western countries to stimulate interest and knowledge about these present and future world dynamics.
Practicalities and conditions
The installation which is all in all about 20 square metres comes in two specially constructed, very sturdy wooden boxes (in total 200 kilos). Each of the four panels weigh 16 kilos, so the boxes are the heaviest part.
The box for the panels is 253 x 103 x 10 cm. The one for all the rest is 80 x 80 x 60 cm (see photo).
Each panel measures 100 cm in width, 250 cm in height and is 1,2 centimetre thick. Add to that the podiums and the paintings above the panels and we are close to a height of 350 cm. In case the installation must be placed in a room with lower ceilings, one may possibly place the panels on the cloth directly on the floor.
As a point of departure, the conditions outlines below apply – but Oberg is willing to discuss them on a case-by-case basis to realise a win-win cooperative project:
Interested parties shall cover the costs and other resources of the transport and insurance, the careful unpacking and set-up of the installation in an appropriate room, provide security for the installation and its objects as well as setting the lights on it. The transport boxes (and the bubble
The only thing that has to be constructed at the local exhibition site is the four podiums on which the panels rest (roughly 65 cm width, 30 cm height, 40 cm depth) plus
Further, the partner covers public relations costs for outreach, social media, e-mail etc. in cooperation with the artist.
Detailed instructions by the artist and images from the Venice installation shall serve as a
Additionally, it’s desirable that interested partners pay a modest fee to the artist according to the length of the exhibition period.
The partner must re-pack the installation carefully and cover insurance for as long as the installation is transported and shown.
If the exhibiting party wants the artist to be present and perhaps also take part in discussions with invited audiences about the art installation itself and/or the future world order based upon the installation, the cooperating partner shall cover a normal flight/train ticket plus costs for the stay.
Exhibiting the SPAR – prints for sale
It would be natural that some or all of the images that sit in the installation are shown in conjunction with the installation itself. A number of studies for SPAR could also be included.
They are in limited editions, printed on fine arts Canson photo papers, they are signed and numbered by the artist and a certificate of authenticity follows each print.
These main prints sitting in the installation can be viewed in the SPAR Works portfolio. There you can also see some close-ups of the installation, the interaction of canvas-printed photos and the painting.
Such an exhibition of single editions would provide an opportunity for sales, the income of which will be shared by the partner and the artist in proportions agreed prior to the exhibition.
– short video shot at Palazzo Mora in Venice, Italy, in May 2019
More information & contact
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[Updated September 1, 2019]