Artist Ditte Gantriis’ exhibition is titled Open Mic Kærlighedsdigte 2018 which translates as Open Mic Love Poems 2018. The show transforms the exhibition space Tranen into a scene. A microphone accompanied by a loudspeaker is placed in the middle of the space. It is an invitation. The scene welcomes guests to read aloud love poems of their own choice or making. The invitation is also a challenge. The love poem is a genre where feelings are exposed. Love as well as poetry is something, which most people have given into at some point - and only few entirely control. A love poem traditionally calls upon grandiose emotions, which might strike us as anything from dazzlingly beautiful to down-right cringeworthy. The same goes for Gantriis’ exhibition.
As always, the starting point for Gantriis’ work is the codes of our visual culture. A recurrent motif in her new show is the well-known heart-shaped sign, which is meant to depict a human heart – an organ, which the sign represents but does not resemble. For centuries, the heart-shaped symbol has been used as a symbol of love. Today it is also one of the emoticons most used in digital communication. The more it is used, the more love is spread. At the same time, the opposite might also be the case. The more the symbol is used, the more its meaning is watered down. Like so much else, the viral success of a sign might also be its failure. That is why the heart as sign is constantly being reworked and fine-tuned. Today, heart-shaped emoticons are being developed in ever more numerous nuances and versions. Gantriis’ exhibition extends this on-going negotiation about what a heart should look like and what it should express. The artist’s serially hand-painted hearts simultaneously look expressive and industrial, passionate and superficial, naive and ironic and so on. On the one hand side, they seem rife with various – even contradictory – meanings. On the other hand side – maybe as a consequence – they border on meaninglessness.
Gantriis’ work is permeated by a view of our visual culture as a caricature. The exhibition embraces a world whose characteristics are exaggerated and simplified by dominant tendencies and desires. In Gantriis’ art we’re confronted with a culture marked by seductive, yet tediously well-known, clichés where things become signs, where products become brands, where feelings become image, where art becomes lifestyle and a painting becomes a painting of a painting. In Gantriis’ work light is cast on a world, which seems superficial and trite, but whose depths she nevertheless continues to plumb, explore and inhabit – maybe not without irony, but probably without distance.
With her new exhibition at Tranen, Gantriis offers the public a stage. If we step up, it is ours. If we don’t, it might freeze in a grimace, in a picture by Gantriis.
— Toke Lykkeberg, Director of Tranen