Magazine article Artforum International

Vibeke Tandberg: C/O-Atle Gerhardsen. (Berlin)

Magazine article Artforum International

Vibeke Tandberg: C/O-Atle Gerhardsen. (Berlin)

Article excerpt

Forget the prince. Vibeke Tandberg knows what every princess really wants: a shiny new mountain bike. The Norwegian artist, who settled in Oslo after residencies in London and New York, has produced eight large-scale color photographs that trace the awkward courtship between a modern-day princess and her latest acquisition. They show the artist, decked out in a white bathrobe, running shoes, a cheap blond wig, and a dime-store crown, moving through a sparsely furnished apartment with her unlikely beau, a ten-speed whose brand name remains hidden behind a light armor of silver paint.

Despite the work's racy title--Princess Goes to Bed with a Mountain Bike, 2001--there's no need for parental guidance in this girlworld fairy tale, which unfolded like a movie sequence or a comic strip across three walls of the gallery. Princess lounges listlessly at a table, slyly approaches the bike and then, in an obligatory switch of gender roles, lifts it robustly toward the awaiting bed. In the end, both "characters" appear to be snoozing peacefully on a large comforter, probably dreaming of uneven roads and air pumps. An homage to the utopian charms of capitalism, the photographs take commodity fetishism to new heights, showing the seductive power of fresh purchases. As Marx noted, we tend to invest commodities with a magically human, if not superhuman, quality while forgetting the processes of production and exploitation that lurk behind them. A sweatshop swoosh--which appears like an exclamation mark in the last photograph of a lone shoe hanging off the end of the bed--definitely gives an idea of the dark forces missing from this tale. …

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