“The Photograph is violent: not because it shows violent things, but because on each occasion it fills the sight by force, and because in it nothing can be refused or transformed.”
Temple of Light, created especially for Bold Gallery Prague, is the first exhibition to synthetize two
iconic cycles by the Norwegian artist Christian Houge.
The first is his long-term project Residence of Impermanence, Houge’s exploration of Humanity’s relationship to Nature and culture. Animal taxidermy and trophy animals combined with the Victorian wallpaper epitomize the age-old human desire to subjugate Nature. Today, we are witnessing the consequences of this desire on a global scale.
The second series, Vanitas, inspired by Dutch still-life paintings from the 1600s, explores the moral principle of memento mori(Latin for “remember you shall die”). In artistic expression, this concept appeared in depictions of the Danse macabre (dance of death). The famous Vanitas paintings included symbolism of the human skull, books, wilting flowers, jewelry, and rotting fruit to remind us of the futility of life and the vanity of living.
In Vanitas, Houge raises awareness of the fact that we tend to consider death as taboo, rather than making us more conscious of the life we are living. We are faced with many distractions due to technology and social media that contribute to our disconnection. Witnessing Houge’s provocative performances makes us ask new questions, feel, and be aware. His juxtaposition of the violent and the beautiful, death and life is a profound artistic reminder of humanity itself and the human condition.
Linking the two series is the element of fire, which played a defining role in the rise of civilizations, yet the flame
also symbolizes release, purification, transformation, and transcendence. Here, fire functions as the medium of catharsis, and photography as the instrument to record and preserve this spiritual process. Both are brought together in the imaginary Temple of Light.