Artist: Simon Dybbroe Møller
Exhibition title: Cormorous
Curated by: Marina Coelho
Venue: KUNSTHALLE São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
Date: September 8 – October 8, 2016
Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and KUNSTHALLE São Paulo
Celebrating four years of activity, KUNSTHALLE São Paulo is delighted to invite Danish artist Simon Dybbroe Møller (*1976, Aarhus) to present his first solo exhibition in Brazil, for which he exclusively produced «Cormorous», the last video of his trilogy on anachronisms. After dealing with commodities in the two previous pieces – the Renault Avantime in Animate V (2012) and the Canon Mark II in Untitled (how does it feel) (2014) – here Dybbroe Møller introduces us to the paradoxes of an ancient bird – the Cormorant.
(a) Greedy. As insatiable as a cormorant. Irregular adaptation of cormorant. 1747: “My Desires are not cormorous.”
A cormorant drying its wings on an old withered wooden pole: the Jesus-like silhouette and the pride of its posture mirrored in the water surface. A truly pathetic image. It is said that the cormorant is the most ancient bird around; that it dates back to the dinosaurs. That unlike other aquatic birds it has not developed the oil sheen that would protect it from getting soaked, hence the crucifix-like pose: it does so to dry its feathers in the breeze. What an anachronism. A more constructive voice would frame it differently and explain how most creatures are naturally buoyant, but how for diving birds this is an issue. The cormorant is thought to swallow pebbles to increase its weight. Its main adaptation, though, is its open feather structure that does not trap buoyancy-increasing air but absorbs water instead. Regardless: imagine soaked feathers. Conversely imagine water droplets on a water-repellent surface. Let us think about this in relation to analogue and to digital image making.
Perhaps the wet white t-shirt was the climax of old world sleaziness. A last spasm of the analog, before our descent into the weight- and age-less universe of silicone and botox, the taxidermy of the technosphere; Into the waxed universe of the virtual. Do you remember Sabrina and Boys Boys Boys? Can you recall Samantha Fox? The way those singers exploited white cotton and water to produce images of their hefty bodies both concealed and enhanced. Images that seemed to transcend the slick surface of the glossy magazines by echoing the fluidity of analog processing and the stickiness of the emulsion coat of a photographic print. Tits and ass or draperie mouillée. A century earlier the realist Constantin Emile Meunier modeled his monumental sculpture The Dock Worker, depicting the toned figure of his subject draped in moist, clingy garments. In this fantasy even the soggy is solid, the saturated is steely. The patina of the bronze reminiscent of a vintage sepia toned black-and-white print; the lack of tonality melting the body with the cloth.
It is surely no coincidence that perfectly contained drops of liquid sitting on surfaces of things feature so heavily in digital image making tutorials. Like the techy garments used in the outdoor sports industry, these images inhabit a landscape of impenetrability. We know that the perfect water drops on the bright green leaves adorning our computer desktops did not occur naturally. That they were placed there, then elaborately lit. Possibly they are not water at all but either gelatin or resin or pure digital post-.production. Even when sitting on an absorbent surface they do not soak things; they do not evaporate into the air. We are dealing with the age of the surface here, with the digital, with ideals. No earth to earth, but an image-world where, while things do mutate, they do not decay.
— Simon Dybbroe Møller