But This Afternoon

Helle Frøsig

But this afternoon is the title of an installation based on the interplay of four stationary slide projections and a number of sculptural elements. Exploiting our hidden associations to form and texture the installation invites the spectator to reflect on our relationship to objects and how we attach our understanding of ourselves to them, and relate this connection to our perception of time and space.

Like a huge, almost entirely white painting, laid out in three dimensions, the installation envelops the showroom itself. Like Alice in Wonderland, the visitor steps into a strange world where everything is kept in order by inscrutable rules, and where meaning and proportions are in constant flux. 

Objects, most of them with perfectly white, untouchable surface, are spread out over the floor and dangle down from the ceiling. On the walls are projected mirage-like images of familiar household objects such as teacups, plates and kitchen knives.  

In contrast to the slide images, the sculptured objects (most of which are constructed in plywood and finished with a carefully ground gesso-like white paint) do not represent anything immediately recognisable. And  yet their reduced shapes and distorted proportions notwithstanding, in an abstract and almost minimalist way they associate to familiar shapes and objects. One piece may hint to an oversized piece of furniture, another to jewellery, blown to gigantic size, or to boxes to hide something in.

My ambition is to create a strange but crisp and beautiful mental space where time stands still. This imaginary space hangs in the tension between the realistic but projected – and thus ephemeral – slide images and the sculptured objects that are physically present but fleeting, their abstract yet familiar shapes remaining just beyond the grasp of our mind’s eye.

A few of the objects are left with an unfinished surface to underline a disconcerting sense of incompleteness.  The objects could be models for an architect or furniture for a giant doll’s house etc. The aim is to situate the installation in a place that is open to the visitors’ own interpretations.  

The title but this afternoon was chosen to underscore how very subjective and labile our perception of time is. It seems the only way that we can cope with the dimension of time is to construct artificial intervals, using clocks and calendars, and to associate the flow of time with significant events or physical objects of special affection. Still, it is rare that anything really significant happens in the humdrum of daily life.

Especially in the afternoons. To me the afternoon represents an undefined interface between the busy day, which has not yet ended, and the evening still to come. The afternoon is an open space where you have to hold on to very common objects – teacups, pearl necklaces – in order not to get mentally lost.

But this afternoon, something hopefully could happen. In that perspective and in my own interpretation, the whole installation can be seen as a sudden and materialised break in time, where all the private emotions, stories and impressions related to the endless flow of time congeal and attain shape.

I mean the showroom to be a physical expression of the shapeless and eternal dimension of time. Thus the visitor may experience the intervals of time in the composition of the entire installation, expressed by the numerous minor parts of space that emerge between the objects and the projected slides, a space in continual flux as the visitor moves through the installation.

In shaping the objects and choosing the slide motives I have tried to express all the private emotions and experiences we relate to time.

The installation was originally created for a specific room at the Esbjerg Museum of Fine Arts in Denmark, where it was shown in an exhibition that began at the end of 2002. This room, called the “Room for Experimental Art” is a large square room of approximately 220 square meters with 4.5 meters to the ceiling. 
In January 2003 the installation was shown again at The Fine Arts Archive in Värnamo, Sweden. Here it was rearranged in a rectangular room of 150 square meters with just 3 meters to the ceiling. 
In January 2004 the installation was rearranged in Copenhagen at the Contemporary Arts’ Showroom of the Danish Ministry of Culture. Here the installation will be shown in two interconnected rooms of 120 and 270 square meters.
In October 2004 The installation was put up again at Kulturstiftung Schloss Agathenburg, Germany. Here the installation was spread out in four connected rooms covering the first floor in a small renaissance castle

Thus, the size of the installation is flexible. It has to be arranged in new ways wherever it is shown. Each time the aim must be to achieve a tense relationship between the surrounding room, the objects and the projected slides to obtain that sense of imaginary and mental space, which is the essential idea of the installation. 

Helle Frøsig