Bjørn Hegardt and Theo Ågren have been collaborating with particular projects since 1998.

Their work comprises a series of site-specific installations where interiors come "to life" and flip out of control. Combining photos and objects, they create ambiguous two and three dimensional constructions, often using apparently simple methods to reach optical illusions.

The Norwegian/Swedish artist Bjørn Hegardt is based in Berlin. www.bjornhegardt.com
The Swedish artist Theo Ågren is based in Sätila outside Göteborg. www.theoagren.blogspot.com

Collaborative projects

2016 Lightness of Matter Østfold Kunstsenter, Fredrikstad

2016 The Dark Rooms Willner Brauerei, Berlin

2015 The White Paper Rom for Kunst, Oslo

2015 Toward Gravity's End Kunstplass (10), Oslo

2014 White Light II Norrköping Art Museum, Norrköping

2014 A Study of Free Fall and Levitation II Oslo prosjektrom, Oslo

2014 A Study of Free Fall and Levitation I Galleri 54, Gothenburg

2012 Point of No Return RAKE visningsrom, Trondheim

2009 White Light Prosjektrom Carl Berner, Oslo

2008 The Tower Cité Internationale des Arts - Studio, Paris

2006 Kitchen Sunset Prosjektrommet 93-06, Momentum Exhibition Space, Moss, Norway

2006 Skopje Whirlwind Press to exit project space, Skopje, Macedonia

2004 What A Curious Feeling By The Way- Gallery for contemporary art, Bergen, Norway

2003 Office Iaspis studio, Stockholm

2002 Calm Before The Storm Galleri F15, Moss, Norway

2000 Galerie Mörkefischer Grünbergerstr.17, Berlin

1999 Part II Containers of Art, Trondheim, Norway

1998 Vertigo Singsakerbakken 24, Trondheim, Norway

Art comissions

2015/16 To Greater Heights Haugenstua skole, Oslo

2013/14 The Growing House Haukåsen barnehage, Trondheim

2012 Naturglimt Sørenga barnehage, Oslo

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Collaborative practice depletes the individual signature and does that it no longer is the centre of attention and agency. It is an alternative to the individual mythologies of the art world – in the collaboration there is no expressionism, no secret feeling or intentionality. Rather, what is created belongs to a shared order that is potentially more open and more politically charged.

It is no coincidence that Björn Hegardt and Theo Ågren’s projects are about space: as such collaborations - since they are not private - imply social space. Collaboration is not studio practice but belongs to the street, the bar, the bedroom – wherever conversation takes place. Their works make for a trajectory from an interior, mental reality to a public one: from the individual doubt that what I see may be a trick of the brain, to the transposition of a living room to the street where it contests the logic of urbanity.

Hegardt and Ågren’s installations convey a particular dynamic between the still life and what is alive, in transformation, animated. Anima is to be taken literally as the objects in their works have a life of their own, a soul or will that moves them. It is ‘the stuff that surrounds us’, as the Wallpaper Magazine slogan goes, which in this context is made somewhat ominous as the stuff we are surrounded by looks back at us and rebels against the domestic logic that we project upon them. The installations What a Curious Feeling (2004) and Office (2003) are like stills from a 3-d film showing a given environment in a state of decomposition or turbulence: frozen slices of time between a before and an after. Opening space up to time, The Calm Before The Storm (2002) employ kinetic elements (such as a shaking chandelier and the eyes of a stuffed pheasant popping out) to demonize a white cube, turning it into an 18th century living room that the artists in this way, as they write elsewhere in this catalogue, subject to a ‘historical flashback’. It is as if the beholder stepped into a Stephen King novel. As Freud sloganeered ‘We are not masters of our own house’, using the dwelling or the interior space as the figure of the Western mind with uncanny forces lurking in its ‘basement’ or ‘backyard’.

However inexplicable the goings-on in their installations, Hegardt and Ågren’s work is not a kind of magical realism. The materials they use are poor and unassuming, and the psychological effects of their cheap tricks are more suggestive than spectacular. When somebody insists on the Real it is usually because they want to control it. In this way, the low-key illusionism in Hegardt and Ågren’s work becomes a strategy to dupe reality: disorder and discomfort are lent an ambivalent dynamics that define a kind of suspension. The series of photographs Galerie Mörkefischer (2000) could be the moment before a mental crash; or it could be an ecstasy where unexpected equilibriums are reached.

It remains an open question whether Hegardt and Ågren’s installations have been animated by the invisible hand of exterior forces (spirits? Artists goofing around?) or whether the disorder in them is the effect of forces inherent to the speed of life. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said that we never see the same river twice. Similarly, in Hegardt and Ågren, we never see the same livingroom twice. Everything is in flux, everything flows – even in those places where we think we are ourselves and in charge.

When gravity dissolves, the situation can go towards chaos or towards new lines of flight. At the end of the day maybe this turbulence really is a liberation of sorts.

Lars Bang Larsen 2005