#101 The Three No's
125x100 cm each, installation dimensions variable | Filler, oak frame
About the work
The title of this triptych refers to an infamous sentence in the Khartoum resolution issued by the Arab League (Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, Kuwait and Sudan) in 1967. It reads - ”No peace with Israel, no recognition of Israel, no negotiations with Israel. ” Although the resolution was never enforced and is no longer relevant to the Palestinian conflict, the text’s categorical rejection remains of interest. Not least as an alternative to the common notion that disputes can and should always be resolved through dialogue and compromise. The work can be viewed as a statement of support for the Palestinian struggle. Still, it can also be understood as a reflection on struggle and resistance on many different levels.
In a situation where conflict results from sustained abuse of power, initiating a dialogue between the parties can serve as an extension of the actual assault. If one party exercises control at the expense of others, which often is the case in conflicts, negotiations with the dominant party can be experienced as a confirmation of the power structure and be recognized as a legitimation for the abuse.
Within a Scandinavian and Western context, open conflict and hostility are seen as temporary exceptions to the norm and are expected not to last too long. Negotiation, compromise, understanding and forgiveness are perceived purely as positive concepts. But they can also be instruments of power. Throughout history, rulers and various institutions have used them as arguments to enforce their will, thus showing that established conflict management channels can also serve as an extension of existing power structures. For the weaker party, requirements to solve or handle conflict through normalizing relations is an additional form of submission.
This becomes especially apparent when you read the situation through Michel Foucault´s power theory and refrain from viewing power as something directly tied to specific agents or institutions but rather as embedded in the discourse. Power consists of defining what can be described as true and setting boundaries for what is viewed as possible. In this way, the call for acting within the consent norm is imperative. Thus the rejection of cooperation can be a more effective tool for struggle or resistance, as we see in strikes and boycotts. When the balance of power is very uneven, the only possible means of resistance can be extreme versions of this rejection, such as hunger strikes or suicide.
In a social context, those insisting on illuminating or sustaining a conflict are often considered difficult or unpleasant. However, in the case of an abuse of power, creating a distance between the victims and the aggressor by refusing to reconcile may be essential for maintaining the integrity and enabling positive self-development. Clear boundaries and space are usually better than forced solutions, even though this can be perceived as harsh and unforgiving by the surroundings.
Perception is an interpretation and thus consists of language in the same manner as understanding words. To the mind, a word is always also an image. In that sense, understanding words function no different than normal perception. When we see, images are constructed inside the mind. We never perceive reality objectively or in itself.
However, to use language, we have to speak or write it. We have to realize it. Nothing ever communicates without being inscribed into a matter of some sort. But how words are inserted into reality affects how we perceive them. Thus reality itself seeps into language. There exists no clear or unmediated communication. Matter adds to the message. Because which matter we choose to communicate through and how we shape it reflects on who we are, it can reveal unconscious or hidden meanings.
Humans inscribed the first written words in stone or clay. One of the purposes was to save them for the future, to protect them from the volatility of time. To speak, or to write, is always, to some extent, an act of power. The receiver must initially submit his or her attention to the message. No matter how insignificant, its meaning will always in some way change the receiver forever.
There is a constant tension between language and reality as matter. The human subject is defined by an individual will, as opposed to the strict causality of nature. This will strive to be expressed through language. Maybe self-awareness is a result of language at use. Language as a way for the ego to invent itself, to inscribe itself into the world. It is no coincidence that many of the first examples of texts are curses, prayers, laws or inventories — different ways of trying to influence and master reality.
Tablet series is part of Template, a compilation of works made by using pieces of wooden plates as templates. They function a bit as a mould or matrix for the finished work. The plates are attached inside the frame and after the first layer of filler had dried they are removed. The remaining empty spaces are filled with filler of a different colour.
Reminiscent of Richard Serra's Verb List I try to use simple and clearly defined actions to shape the filler in my works. This way there is always non-cognitive aspects of the production process.