Basel, The works of John Skoog are on show at the "Palace" exhibition until 3 June 2016.
Exhibition at the Baloise Group Art Forum
26 November 2015 – 3 June 2016
Art Forum opening hours: Tuesday, 8 December 2015 and 12 April 2016 both at 5 pm for a guided tour by curator Martin Schwander or by appointment.
In 2014, Swedish artist John Skoog was awarded the Baloise Art Prize at Art Basel 2014 for his film installation Reduit (Redoubt). The "smooth, cinematic-style picture settings" of his black-and-white film impressed the jury, which in its report particularly highlighted the fact that Skoog "looks for traces of people and memories in everyday places, thus merging documentary content with cinematic fiction." The Palace, 2010-2015, series of photos on show at the Baloise Art Forum is closely related to another 16mm black-and-white film, also from 2014, entitled Shadowland, which constitutes a complex study of the medium of film and its history: The film was shot at sites around Los Angeles that the Hollywood film industry once used as locations for films set in Afghanistan, the Sahara or the French Alps. Shadowland presents a "subtle impression of the topography and cinematic history of the American West. The film recaptures the iconic quality and atmospheric aura of locations whose geographical significance earlier films helped to create." (Exhibition catalogue John Skoog, MMK, Frankfurt am Main/ MUMOK, Vienna, 2015).
In the 26-part Palace series of photographs, Skoog uses atmospherically saturated colour to depict the present condition of movie theatres in the Midwest which, in the 1920s and 1930s, hosted the premières of high-budget Hollywood productions. The grandiose décor and the seductive charm of these huge picture palaces have, in most cases, not stood the test of time. Indeed, many such cinemas are now used as casinos, churches or flea markets. Thus, this series of photos can be clearly seen as another piece in the puzzle of Skoog's search for traces of people and memories in everyday places. At the same time, the Palace series also paints a melancholy picture of the history of film as a medium: whereas during the first few decades of the film industry thousands of people flocked to the glittering picture palaces to be transported to unfamiliar worlds, many people today are content to watch films at home, on planes or in trams on their iPhones.
Text: Martin Schwander