On a narrow pedestal in the middle of the room rests a dubious copy of a silver coin. The coin is bought online and is a souvenir of the kind that tourists drag home from Athens. In Greek mythology, the deceased pay a ferryman to stage them across the river to the realm of death, and the coin thus represents the successful transition between life and death. A memento mori, that is, or a way to wish the dying good journey, but an inadequate, sarcastic one of a kind, mass-produced in nickel and sold on one of the internet’s more dubious webshops.
Tore Hallas’ exhibition An Empty Container Of is based on a personal grieving process, but unfolds it into a universal study of the relationship between photography and transience, thickness and morbidity. Throughout the past year’s pandemic, existentialist questions of illness and death have become present for many of us. But for one who lives in a thick body, the pathologization is constant; the thick body is spoken of as a container for the life, it ends up suffocating.
A series of black-and-white photographs show fragmented body parts in distorted, awkward poses, as if they were the remaining remnants of a ruined marble sculpture. But unlike the classical sculpture, Hallas’ bodies are far from ideal; it is the thick body, the body with indistinct gender markers and in some cases the artists own body, which is produced in a semi-abstract, but in some places also self-revealing and -referential idiom.
The works showcase their own construction; a rod from a photo frame breaks the illusion of the free-floating arm and a self-timer reveals how the image came to be. The same elements emerge from the photographs and into the space, where they take the form of a kind of gloomy, stiffened tree of life with metal branches without leaves and heavy, black molton that absorbs light and hinders photosynthesis. It is photography that shows what it does, thereby asking questions of what it represents: What do we contain when we photograph someone and what type of containers do we photograph?
Tore Hallas (b. 1984) graduated from The Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 2019. He is the recipient of The Danish Arts Councils career program The Young Artistic Elite, as well as the Poul Erik Bech Foundations Art Prize and the 15. Juni Foundations Honorary Art Prize. He has exhibited both locally in Denmark and internationally in the United States and Europe, but An Empty Container Of is Hallas’first solo exhibition after graduation.
The exhibition is kindly supported by The Danish Arts Foundation and the Danish Arts Workshop.