press release

Knut Åsdam (b.1966) has in the last ten years distinguished himself as a significant international artist. It is with great pleasure Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art now presents a retrospective exhibition of his work.

This is the first time Knut Åsdam’s art is presented in an “mid-career” retrospective exhibition. The selection therefore offers a cross-section of both lesser known works from an earlier phase, well-known works, such as his breakthrough work Untitled: Pissing, 1995, and newer works, such as the films Filter City, 2003, and Blissed, 2005.

The selection is concentrated around photographs, video and film. Themes related to human experiences of the urbane environment, and the challenge of establishing one’s own identity in a constantly shifting social sphere, are central to Åsdam’s works. Within this field, he has particularly focused on architecture, subcultures, sexuality and language. Several of his works relate to the concept ‘psychasthenia’, found in the French theoretician Roger Caillois’ texts. The concept refers to a psychological state of being in which the distinction between the subject and the environment is erased. Åsdam points to how several contemporary urban subcultures (dance, music, narcotics) aspire to this state, and he also uses the concept as a stage setting for a subtle criticism of modern capitalistic society.

In his newer photographs and films there is a further development of interest in the relationship between the subject and its environment. Starting from the notion of urbane “non-places”, Åsdam invites us to a thematization of communication as it encounters the anonymity of urbanism. In contrast to early performance-based video works, the newer films are founded upon dialogue. Inspired by political new-wave films of the late 1960s, Åsdam urges us to explore the nuances of language and the establishment of meaning.

Knut Åsdam represented Norway at the Venice Biennial in 1999, and has exhibited his works at a number of prestigious institutions, such as Tate Britain, Istanbul Biennial, Irish Museum of Art, Kunsthalle Bern and Musée des Beaux Arts in Caen. Presently some of his works also are on show at FRAC Bourgogne, Dijon.

The films Filter City, 2003, and Blissed, 2005, will also be shown in a separate program at the Cinemateket, Filmens Hus, Dronningens gate 16. Contact Cinemateket for a program, or see their web pages:

The exhibition-curators are Gunnar B. Kvaran, Hanne Beate Ueland and Grete Årbu. The exhibition is organized by Astrup Fearnley Museum for Modern Art, in close cooperation with the artist.


Knut Asdam Retrospective
Kuratoren: Gunnar B. Kvaran, Hanne Beate Ueland, Grete Arbu