On December 4, 2016, Tranen Contemporary Art Center closes the solo exhibition of Danish artist Astrid Myntekær, Mana Stash, an opportunity for visitors to review the work of the young artist. Taking inspiration in the fact that algae were the first life on earth, creating the oxygen that has since made other life forms possible, Astrid Myntekær uses algae to represent both death and rebirth. Today, as the world metropolises are slowly suffocating by pollution and lack of oxygen, the algae are part of the threat and simultaneously they are a new technology for the purification of air and water, a contribution to experimental energy production in algae reactors as well as one of the health food industry popular supplements. In Mana Stash, algae form a self-generating ecosystem unfolding as an environment of life forms beyond the human scale. Mana is a mythological word for the supernatural force which everything in the universe possesses. It also points to the Bible’s ‘Manna from heaven’ given by God to His people in the wilderness for their survival. Today, the gaming industry uses ‘Mana Points’ or ‘Magic Points’ as concepts for players holding supernatural powers and energies.
Myntekær’s installation orchestrates both the microscopic organic life and the spiritual indefinable void. Ma is the Japanese word for space, a concept that focuses on the spiritual consciousness of the in-between space or the negative spaces that exist in any structures. Japanese tatami mats constitute folded surfaces in the exhibition’s central sculptural element. They rise from the floor and create a floating architecture with references to both the concept of Ma and De Stijl artist, theorist and architect Friedrich Kiesler’s Raum Stadt – a sculptural architecture that would set men free from the closed walls of the cities, combining art, life and spirituality in a free abstract form. “What more are our houses than stone coffins towering up from the ground into the sky? (…) Churchyards have more aim for the skeletons of the dead than our cities have for the lungs of the living – Grass grows round each grave, a little greenward, a gravel path separating each from its neighbor. Each grave a green island. Each man his own master; each man his own settlement. Settlers take note!” – excerpt from Friedrich Kiesler, Raum Stadt manifesto, 1925.
Mana Stash is the second part of the Mists of Dawn season at Tranen, which takes place in the autumn and winter of 2016 and focuses on the tensions between creation and destruction. In the Mists of Dawn season, an architectural sculptural sensibility presents itself; it suspends time and place, and instead strives to arouse the pre-historic or post-apocalyptic through the abstract, the artificial, the technological or the digital. The Mists of Dawn – Creation program is curated by Tranen artistic director Charlotte Sprogøe.
Astrid Myntekær (Denmark, 1985) has graduated the Master of Fine Arts at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 2012, after classes at Hochschule für bildende Künste in Hamburg, Germany, 2008-2009. Her work was previously exhibited in various locations, including Overgaden Institute of Contemporary Art (Copenhagen, Denmark), ISCP (New York, USA), Museum of Contemporary Art (Roskilde, Denmark), European JCE Biennale (France), Black Sesame Space (Beijing, China), Röda Sten Konsthall (Gothenburg, Sweden), Nikolaj Kunsthal (Copenhagen, Denmark), and Gallery Jacob Bear (Århus, Denmark). Myntekær has received numerous awards and scholarships from Arken, Niels Wessel Bagge Foundation and Ole Haslund Foundation, among others, as well as the critics’ award at JCE / Jeune Création Européenne biennale.