The exhibition OF VOYAGES, OF OTHER PLACES is the first presentation of John Murphy’s art presented in extent to a Norwegian audience. Murphy lives in London, where he also received his education, and has a significant career as an artist with exhibitions in a number of countries since his debut in the 1960s. From 2008 he has also worked as a professor at Trondheim Academy of Fine Art, NTNU, where he teaches painting.
John Murphy’s exhibition in Trondheim kunstmuseum is the third in a line where contemporary artists are invited to exhibit side by side with works from the museum’s collection. In this way the collection will fold out in a new way each time, and different aspects will be emphasized depending on the selected works and thinking of the invited artist. Murphy’s part in the series is in its ways more profound than both the prior, as it is based on a thorough examination of the collection by the artist, and a larger space is used. OF VOYAGES, OF OTHER PLACES is staged in the whole first floor in TKM Bispegata.
The exhibition focuses on the ideas of notions of movement, changing of space(s) and travel. A basic idea about the voyage is the one where the traveller is setting out into unknown waters, the brave conquering of horizons, and the following gaze into something vast, overwhelming and unknown. To reach out and find places where ideas are challenged and leap ahead are made. But like all grand ideas the glory of travel also has a backside. Every traveller’s exotic destination is after all someone else’s backyard. There is also a touch of melancholia in the concept of traveling. As American novelist Ellen Glasgow put it: “All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” Arriving is so closely related to leaving, and memory will always walk alongside forgetting.
Foucault discusses the heterotopias, spaces of otherness, which are neither here nor there. These spaces can be both physical and mental at the same time, like the space for a phone call, or the room in a mirror, or take the doctor’s waiting room or the space behind the bordello’s curtains. These spaces do not only resist simple definitions, they are also what Foucault calls our «greatest reserve of imagination». Imagine the ship, the foremost heterotopia, moving across the water but at the same time a space without a space, a space of it’s own, exiting the imagination. Maybe we also should regard the exhibition space as heterotopia.
Jon Arild Johansen