"Get closer, make yourself near-sighted, walk straight into things!" [Gå närmare, gör dig närsynt, gå rakt på prylarna!] wrote the language experimentalist Erik Beckman in his collection of poems entitled Kyss er! [Kiss you!] published in 1969.
In Beckman’s world, being near-sighted meant cultivating a phenomenological notion that things, gadgets, details could say something - seen from certain angles - and that such near-sighted observations could say more about the world and reality than scouting from elevated positions, from lookout towers, from places where one is easily charmed by the illusory idea of a big picture, an overall view. "Pars pro toto" is the Latin expression for this kind of near-sightedness, which means that a portion of something represents its entirety.
The five students who will be receiving a Master's Degree from the Department of Fine Art this year are the last students to graduate from the system that has now been replaced by a three-year undergraduate education and a two-year Master of Arts degree in accordance with the Bologna model. I have followed most of these students, first as a lecturer and then as a professor. When I now observe their work I see that quite separate and distinct artistic identities and totally different issues have unfolded. These graduates are on the threshold of the professional role toward which this education strives and which it wishes to develop: an articulated role as an artist who has established a practice and an inner logic, which is to say that these artists have their own methods, their own forms of thought and their own attitude in the face of the world.
Though these artists play in such different directions, I am able - with a bit of good will - to perceive a common denominator. This commonality has to do with a change that has been taking place for some time now in art in general: a turn to the particular rather than to the general. One speaks preferably now about an individual rather than of the Human Being. Exact references are made to a particular song, a particular sound, a particular text, a particular story. Political and aesthetic values are extracted from fragments, bits and pieces, and details. One turns to one’s own story and one’s own experiences. Assertions are not formulated from lookout towers, but rather from a near-sightedness, straight into things.
Pars pro totto.
Magnus Bärtås, Professor of Fine Art