Mari Keto

Mari Keto – Delirium
Zetterberg Gallery
November 17 – December 15, 2013

The exhibition Delirium presents for the first time a complete overview of Mari Keto’s work; the portrait series of spectacular pop icons in colourful rhinestones, the hunting trophy works and the micro worlds of the dioramas inhabited by skeletal angels, fairies and mermaids in precious metals.

The exhibition title Delirium refers to a condition where one loses ones grip of the world, a dizzying slip of meaning rendering it impossible to distinguish between real and unreal, fact and fiction. Two central themes run through Keto’s art, the glittering surfaces of temporary pop mythology and the hunt; death rearing its head almost everywhere.

With her images of pop icons Keto is looking into the core of our culture’s obsession with celebrity. We see fame emerging as a thing in itself. The insistent faces have a power, a vector that captures something essential in the celebrity fixation of our time.

The undecidability of who is cheating who is the ambiguous position established by the works in the series called Fashion Victims. The relationship between hunter, victim and trophy is unclear. We buy brand value and invest it in ourselves fully aware of the price. Luxury is a trap that we gladly step into. We even skin ourselves to afford to do so.

Trophies are in their nature aestheticized death. Death is most clearly manifest in Keto’s works with skeletons of mythological and fantastic creatures. In small cabinets of curiosities the little creatures have been locked up and left to die. Did we forget them? Did we lose faith? Or did we trap and kill them with our logic and science? A contemporary disenchantment has taken place with fatal consequences.

Keto’s works balances both references to the tradition of memento mori going back to the Middle Ages as well as references to pop art of the 60’s and 70’s. Keto’s works are often inscribed narratives structured by symbolic elements. The Modern images of vanities seem to suggest that celebrity is the folklore of our time.

Keto’s classical training as a jewellery artist is apparent in her use of materials and in the extreme precision of their execution. The perfect finish imbues the stories of the works with gravity. The materials are often in themselves laden with meaning.

The Oxford Dictionary defines delirium as “an acutely disturbed state of mind characterised by restlessness, illusions, and incoherence”, this is what Keto’s works seem to point to in our world. The dictionary also holds a second meaning for the word delirium as “a state of wild excitement or ecstasy”. It is this second meaning that radiates from Keto’s sparkling and glitteringly perfect works.

Mari Keto’s portrait of Her Majesty The Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, ordered by the Danish Royal Collection will also be displayed at the exhibition.

Text: Magnus Kaslov