The name of Oliver Boberg evokes images of places--common, everyday sites that symbolize the inhospitality of modern human settlements: parking levels and underpasses, urban backyards, flat roofs, and entrance gates. The secret of Boberg’s pictures, however, is that these sites are nowhere to be found in actuality: they are rather photographs of constructed models. In a sense, Boberg’s places represent the very idea of the backyard and the underpass, since all that is typical of them is reproduced in the models: concrete that is already showing wet spots, weeds growing from its joints, flaking paint. The illusion is so complete because Boberg always succeeds in creating exactly the atmosphere that prevails at these places; he is indeed a specialist in atmospheres.
Boberg’s new works, entitled Nacht Orte – Night Sites, which are being shown at L. A. Galerie in September 2002 for the first time, may look like a break from his former compositions. For one thing, he uses a new medium. Seven 16 mm films, recorded on DVD and projected by means of a video beamer, show nightly scenes, such as a forest with fog ascending amidst the tree-trunks, a rural highway in pouring rain or a high cliff, again surrounded by fog. One can tell from the titles alone (Country Road, Forest, etc.), however, that Boberg continues to be intrigued by places.
As before, the viewer is confronted with what he or she deems all too familiar. We know these kinds of scenarios from the movies and are accustomed to the latently menacing atmosphere emanating from each of these sites bathed in blue light (Hitchcock movies readily come to mind, among others). Night in Boberg’s new work becomes the “blue night” by means of the same technique Hollywood studios use--illuminating the copiously prepared, model stage with blue spotlights. Boberg thus takes on the aesthetic language of cinematic fiction and illusion. That which is familiar and immediately makes the viewer expect a certain type of action, is also entirely artificial.
At first, everything seems just right: the camera takes on the typical ”establishing shot,” the granular film material, the soundtrack that delivers the expected sounds and noises.
But the action, to which the take usually attributes, keeps missing. Nothing happens in the Forest, for example, apart from the fog slowly winding its way around the surreally lit trees. Each sequence takes about five minutes, yet, unnoticed by the viewer, always starts anew in a never-ending cycle. Through this circularity the single image is freed from its function within a progressive story. The distance between the viewer and the image increases with the duration of the static take. The viewer ceases to identify with what he or she sees and instead begins to discover inconsistencies, such as the obviously artificial lighting or the staged scenery.
The indefinite prolongation of a moment, which was supposed to initiate action, reveals how illusionism works and how it affects us. Boberg’s pictures then (films or photographs) more than anything make us reflect on the predisposition of our perceptions.
Since summer Oliver Boberg´s work is part of the public collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York.