Smooth Mountain

An exhibition by Jon Stahn and Agnete Bertram

We lay in the darkness
Then she turned the lights on
I saw a dangerous habit
When she turned the lights on
There’s always a catch
In the darkness when you
When you turn the lights on
There’s always a catch
Oh well, oh well, oh well, oh well

– Iggy Pop and Josh Homme, Gardenia, Post Pop Depression


Jon Stahn works with scenographic and installation elements that take a starting point in a personal interpretation of both natural and manmade structures inspired by the so called Inselbergs or Monadnock rock formations that are found everywhere in California’s Joshua Tree Park.  The formations are characteristic and unique to the landscape and the term Monadnock is believed to stem from the Abenaki peoples’ original language and means soft/smooth mountain. The exhibition “Smooth Mountain” refers at the same time to a historical and linguistic description for the place and the mythological and tactile that both artists work with in the exhibition’s works.

Via a combination of objects brought home and place-specific sculptures, a psychedelic scenography is created with references to sci-fi and new-age culture along with the desert’s historical and cultural layer of meaning.

Agnete Bertram’s dramatic and spectacular painting-installation is built up as scenery that is associated with the several abandoned and dilapidated movie sets that are found in the area and that the desert slowly breaks down.  The viewer is led through the different feelings that are activated in film genres like the doomsday film, the drama and the sci-fi novel, for example, and a story is told about the ghost-like fragments and structures in which something has happened that has long-since passed.

In Bertram’s work, the painting is also used, among other things, to illuminate ritualistic activities in the landscape, for example it is “one thing” to take the clothes off in the desert, maybe something that has to do with the desert’s and the rocks’ nakedness, the smooth and soft looking geologic formations that invite a direct physical dialogue with the landscape.  In this way, the history is brought for to a now and the nostalgic is connected with the euphoric.