Ufullførte reiser 2012 signalbilde.JPG
Isaac Julien, «Mazu, Turning (Ten Thousand Waves)», 2010. Photo: Nasjonalmuseet

Unfinished Journeys

16 March 2012–20 May 2012

The Museum of Contemporary Art

The exhibition features works that address the theme of never-ending journeys from a variety of angles. The works are about travel in the figurative sense – the ongoing quest for one’s own identity and place in the world – but also tackle the issue of migration.

It has been argued that in the 21st century we are all chimeras, hybrids, “illegitimate bastards” who can no longer draw upon an original comprehensive history. We are marked by different languages and incompatible patterns of socialization. Thus the idea of a rooted identity, of an essentialist concept of identity as essence and origin of the subject, has to be substituted with an image of the subject as constituted by the routes it has traveled. So the question “Where are you from?” should be replaced by “Where have you traveled?” or even “Where are you traveling?” Identity is a journey that is unfinished. The title of the exhibition “Unfinished Journeys” can be seen as an extended metaphor for the problem of identity formation. Many artists in the exhibition deal with the questions of identity as explicitly geographical spatial expeditions. Their journeys to real and imagined places show us life as a restless voyage of discovery, both literally and metaphorically.

“Unfinished Journeys” shows us that Heimweh (homesickness) and Fernweh (the longing for distant places) are not in fact two diametrically opposed emotions but two sides of the same problem. Their main common denominator is the notion of longing to find oneself. Robert Smithson’s return to his home town Passaic is a voyage of discovery no less restless than Isaac Julien’s journey to China, Marine Hugonnier’s traveling on the unfinished road of the Trans-Amazonian Highway, Åsdam’s abysmal odyssey around East London’s construction site for the new Olympic Arena, or Rosa Barba’s expedition to a “real-and-imagined” moving island in the Baltic Sea – to name just a few. It is the quest to know ourselves in the world that drives us out to foreign countries and back home again.

Artists represented in the exhibition include Bas Jan Ader, Francis Alÿs, Chantal Akerman, Rosa Barba, Rui Calçada Bastos, Stanley Brouwn, Kristina Bræin, Tacita Dean, Marine Hugonnier, Isaac Julien, Runo Lagomarsino, Helen Mirra, Adrian Paci, Robert Smithson, Fiona Tan og Knut Åsdam. They seem to agree on one thing: it is no longer possible for us to return home and stay.

Isaac Julien interview:

Watch NRK's interview with Isaac Julien

Curators: Andrea Kroksnes and Sabrina van der Ley