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Garder Elde Einarsson: Power Under Construction

The industrial artist launches his new exhibition in LA, exploring the use of symbols, phrases and reappropriated words

With dexterity, and in a stark industrial monochrome palette, Garder Elde Einarsson explores issues surrounding power that are far from black and white. By utilising recognisable symbols and phrases and reappropriated words, Einarsson produces installations and sculpture that reflect the complex idea of authority in contemporary political culture. To coincide with the opening of Power Under Construction, Einarsson speaks to Dazed Digital about the tempestuous relationship art has with the status quo.

Dazed Digital: What is the significance of the show's title, 'Power Under Construction'?
Garder Elde Einarsson:
The title is appropriated, like all my titles, in this case from a street sign in Tokyo, used while construction crews are working on the power grid. I liked it because it points to power being always in flux, being a project and always subject to struggle.

DD: Why don’t you use colour?
Garder Elde Einarsson: The lack of colour in my work is related to all my imagery being appropriated. It is an attempt at making clear that the images are not intended to be representations of the world, but rather representations of other images, making the new work, the black and white work, into a photocopy or a shadow of the original image.

DD: You re-appropriate and borrow a lot from other recognisable symbols - what is your standpoint on the idea of re-appropriation in art?
Garder Elde Einarsson: What I’m interested in is how people choose to depict the world and thereby shape it, so my work is appropriated from other images because it is precisely about those images, about how images are used for political means. How images are used in the construction of power if you like.

DD: What is the significance of your referencing of other works of art?
Garder Elde Einarsson: Other works of art to me are one of the several vocabularies that can be used to express something as art. The art world and art history is also an authority in itself with its own frameworks and rules, and these need to be included in any work that pretends to deal with power and authority. My use of other art is therefore usually part of an attempt to identify the framework of the art institution and to work with an awareness of that context, though it is also sometimes pure fan-ism and homage.

DD: Your art takes a very anti-authority stance - whether a general sentiment or a more specific representation of authority like the police, is that the role of art in your view?
Garder Elde Einarsson:I think art is most often in a position of simultaneously challenging, rejecting and cosying up to authority, but I think that is how authority is generally negotiated. It is rare to find pure, unadulterated rejection of all authority.

DD: Is there something about the time we are in right now that requires us to challenge authority more than ever?
Garder Elde Einarsson: I think authority today, at least in industrialised “democratic” countries, is more complex and more dispersed and therefore needs to be analysed and dealt with differently. It needs, as it always does, to be challenged and it needs, as always, to not be accepted at face.

Gardar Eide Einarsson - Power Under Construction; 2622 S. LA CIENEGA BLVD., LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA 90034, On until February 12, 2011