Friday, 8 April 2011, 24:00 | midnight

#23: Bjørn Melhus

Bjørn Melhus is without a doubt one of the most significant media artists of our time. Raised in the age of the digital revolution, Melhus, like an archeologist, draws forth elements that he has uncovered from the media and cultural history of the 20th and 21st centuries in order to raise the question of human identity in the context of a culture thoroughly saturated by the media.

Bjørn Melhus shows:

Center of the World, 2010, 8:00 min
Time flows through the bottleneck of an hourglass like grains of sand. One after another, gravity pulls them through this centre of the earth. Where is this centre and what happens to time there? Absurd but yet full of internal logic, The Center of the World charts what happens when time does not necessarily progress linearly in one direction.

The Norwegian City of Sandnes is well known for its bicycle brand DBS, a clay flute in shape of a cuckoo-bird and the teenage online poker star Annette Obrestad. In 2010 the city celebrated it’s 300 years anniversary in a two directional way: 150 years back in time when it was founded in 1860 and 150 years into the future, the year 2160. By locating itself in the middle of a 300-year-timeline, it became the center of the world.

I’m not the Enemy, 2011, 25:00 min
Home is a place of comfort, of security and peace. Delve into the world of a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder suffering war veteran however, and such notions drastically become perverted and uneasy. The home becomes alien and family members come to encapsulate the demons against whom the veteran has to fight. Appropriating dialogues from Hollywood movies that deal with the legacy of the Vietnam War and firmly implanting them amongst quiet German suburbs, I’m not the Enemy cuts open the ways in which a society engaged in war deals with the guilt of problematic returns. In a society that has such little interest in the faraway Afghan war that is fought in its name, how then is the war veteran ever to find any degree of acceptance?

Das Badezimmer, 2011, 5:00 min
In reference to the trailer of Psycho (USA 1960), narrated in German by Alfred Hitchcock himself, a gardener with a chainsaw guides us through the premises of the Herbert Gerisch Foundation in Schleswig-Holstein 51 years later. The visit ends, just like in the original trailer…, in a bathroom.

Afterlife, 2010, 7:00 min
Vast desert expanses extend out in our imaginations as life after death, the white blinding light transforming the mere mortal into the eternal. The curtains go down but the brilliance of the spirit lives on, truly free amongst the sweeping winds and blowing dust. Judy Garland, Jim Morrison, Big Jim and even you—the essence of life may be meaningless but there is unspeakable beauty in its demise.


Bjørn Melhus (b. 1966 in Kirchheim/Teck, Germany) is a German-Norwegian media artist living and working in Berlin. In his work he has developed a singular position, expanding the possibilities for a critical reception of cinema and television. His practice of fragmentation, destruction, and reconstitution of well-known figures, topics, and strategies of the mass media opens up not only a network of new interpretations and critical commentaries, but also defines the relationship of mass media and viewer anew. Originally rooted in an experimental film context, Bjørn Melhus’s work has been shown and awarded at numerous international film festivals. He has held screenings at Tate Modern and the LUX in London, the Museum of Modern Art (MediaScope) in New York, and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, amongst others. His work has been exhibited in shows like The American Effect at the Whitney Museum New York, the 8th International Istanbul Biennial, solo and group shows at FACT Liverpool, Serpentine Gallery London, Sprengel Museum Hanover, Museum Ludwig Cologne, ZKM Karlsruhe, Denver Art Museum among others. Since 2003 Bjørn Melhus has been a professor for Fine Arts and Virtual Realities at the Kunsthochschule Kassel, Germany.

Bjørn Melhus’ web site: