Press Release

Marc Handelman / Alter-Blomsteraflabet
GSK / July 7 - August 17, 2018

Alter-Blomsteralfabet is an exhibition taking place in the five shop windows of Galeri Se Konst in Falun (Sweden). All the windows are filled from top to bottom with printed textiles by artist Marc Handelman, creating an opaque draped surrounding curtain-wall of vivid colors (derived from an array of floral pigmentation) and detailed pattern. At first glance, the airy and usually open gallery appears closed but it is actually the other way around. In Alter-Blomsteralfabet, the art can be viewed from the street at any time. These conditions make the exhibition an unconscious target for the ordinary flaneur or citizen - as it reinserts art into public life. Yet, the curtains also connote a domestic place reminding us of the intersection and ongoing conflict between the private and the public.

When stepping closer towards the transparent glass, sharp letters in several fonts including blackletter and runic-like alphabet that speaks for itself, begin to formulate a text. Handelman has used Édouard Glissant's essay “For Opacity”, in Poetics of Relation (1990), where Glissant conveys the power of opacity in identity, against an often violent desire for transparency. Moving beyond a necessary notion of “difference,” opacity is offered as a further resistance to the reductive and subjugating forms of assimilation that seek to make identities transparent, graspable, and measurable to “an ideal scale” of whiteness. Glissant writes: “For the time being, perhaps, give up on the old obsession with discovering what lies at the bottom of natures. There would be something great and noble about initiating such a movement, referring not to Humanity but to the exultant divergence of humanities. Thought of self and thought of other here become obsolete in their duality. Every Other is a citizen and no longer a barbarian.” Although opacity signifies a new condition of visibility it does not legitimize the visible as such, much the same way as Handelman's printed textiles reformulate what is recognizable and identifiable.

In his text, Glissant cites a reaction to the idea of opacity “How can you communicate with what you don't understand?” It is a question that also finds growing resonance in the white nationalistic and fascist political organizations in Falun and the region. Handelman´s body of work digitally appropriates typefaces from the propaganda of these organizations re-ordering their rhetoric as an attempt to counter their speech. The text runs through all windows and is intentionally difficult to grasp creating a mass of letters that potentially can shape any word. Still, fragments are visible that originate from distinct corners of our society here woven together with other material from other corners of the world in a new context. Glissant believes that different opacities can coexist and thus converge and together weave fabrics. But to understand these truly and to be in relation, one must focus on the texture of the weave and not on the nature of its components.

—Sara Rossling

The exhibition is a part of the extended exhibition project Unfold a Place - an international group exhibition organized by GAIR (Gagnef Artist-in-Residence Programme) that shows six artists' investigative work about the cultural heritage of Dalarna and the legacy of the artist Ottilia Adelborg (1855 Karlskrona - 1936 Gagnef ). Unfold a place shows work by Kristina
Bength (SE), Anders Bergman (SE/FI), Tatiana Danilevskaya (RUS), Marc Handelman (US), Malin Pettersson Öberg (SE) och Nuno Vicente (PT). Curator är Sara Rossling

The exhibition takes place at Ottilia Adelborgmuseet in Gagnef with satellite presentations at different places around Dalarna.