Collections and research

Absolute Installation

Jon Gundersen

The sound of trickling water can be heard before the viewer encounters Jon Gundersen’s installation, "Water on the Way to the Sea," from 2007.

© Jon Gundersen, Water on the Way to the Sea, 2007, installation

The work draws the viewer in by activating several of the body’s senses. In addition to hearing, the viewer’s aesthetic perception is engaged, while the height of the work creates a physical relation to the body. The sound is water pouring from fourteen old-fashioned coffee pots mounted on two step-ladders. The combined result is a provisional fountain, where the water runs from the uppermost pot down through the other pots, each mounted on its own step.

The work belongs to the so-called readymade tradition introduced by artist Marcel Duchamp at the beginning of the 1900s. Readymade indicates mass-produced, ordinary objects which have been removed from their original context and placed in an art context. With this transference Duchamp brought the everyday into the gallery. Gundersen does the same. Tireless tours of flea markets and rummaging in containers have become a ritual Gundersen has been preoccupied with for over forty years. There in the excesses of our society’s materialism Gundersen finds the raw materials for his artistic expression.

Yet in contrast to Duchamp, who tried to choose his objects on the basis of a non-subjective approach, Gundersen looks for objects that radiate a certain record or experience. These recordings are, through the artist’s hand, recreated as new narratives, where the original objects emerge as raw materials, where the whole is the sum of the parts. The works are traces and reminders of a bygone era fused with the here and now – they contain the time between then and now. Despite the histories these objects harbor, they are as discarded things freed from expectations. It is in this free space that Gundersen frolics.

Jon Gundersen was born in 1942 in Oslo where he also lives and works.


Ahnikee Østreng