The series of films with a focus on the street and the public space that was presented during fall at Kunsthall Trondheim is continued with two works by American artist Alex Villar. The first film, On the Edge (2007) can also be said to connect to Ulla West’s on going exhibition Library of the Evil Spirit, in which walking plays an important role, both as method and subject.
The act of walking in On the Edge by Alex Villar is of quite a different kind. Villar’s focus is directed towards the space and location of the action as well as the political implications. The route that the artist has chosen is not the one normally taken by pedestrians. He walks the edges, the gaps and the outside of fences. He squeezes in between cars, walls and various obstacles where there is really no space. The film relates to Villar’s early photographic series Other Spaces (1997–98), in which he forced his body to adopt to a number of spatial restrictions and limitations, overstepping the boundaries of expected behaviour. His actions point to the structures and laws that determine the use of public space, and by questioning them his actions become political.
This aspect is maybe even clearer in the second film Breaking into Business (2011), in which the artist rolls a scaffolding-on-wheels unit through the Polish town Lublin. He searches for suitable offices to break into, using the scaffolding to reach the windows that offer a possible access. The film was produced in connection to the opening of the Open City festival 2011, and deals with the relation between the two words in the festival title. It points to the fact that there is conflicting ideas and interests influencing our use of “the city”. There are common interests, private interests, commercial interests — all which have to be negotiated. The city depicted in Alex Villar’s film announces itself as more closed than open and raises the question about how much remains of “public space” as we understand it.
The films will be screened on the front window of Kunsthall Trondheim, thus — the street and the non-commercial art institution.
Alex Villar was born in Brazil 1962. He lives and works in New York.