Sprawlville, 2002 (video still), single screen projection, 13:00 minutes, sound, color
Sven Påhlsson is a video artist specializing in digital technologies of 3D animation, which he has developed into a unique language. As a Norwegian artist who has spent many years living in the U.S., Påhlsson examines his environment from a foreigner's point of view. His works focus on humanist themes, and on subjects related to social norms and to the Western lifestyle. He examines images and icons of American culture, and his critical stance is directed at the mechanical, repressive social order of consumer society.
Sprawlville is based on the documentation of North American suburbs that mushroom up around urban centers, freeways, and shopping malls. By means of digital manipulations that create a virtual world reminiscent of computer games, Påhlsson transmits sensations of alienation and horror. The camera's constant and monotonous circular motion, the bright colors and the enticing lights engage the viewer into a disconcerting, dream-like journey through an imaginary urban landscape that represents an American dream turned nightmare. The nocturnal scenes capture desolate, endless suburbs that seem to have grown out of control and to have lost all meaning. He invokes an artificial world in which the desire to consume and the apotheosis of technological development have erased all vestiges of individual freedom and personal identity.
Sven Påhlsson was born in Lund, Sweden (1965). He holds a B.F.A. and a M.F.A. from the National Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo, Norway (1985-1990). He has held numerous solo exhibitions in Norway, Canada, Spain and Italy, at venues including the Oslo Museum of Contemporary Art (2001); and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (2004); he has participated in numerous group exhibitions at venues including the Sâo Paulo Biennial (1989); the Venice Biennale (1997); Tate Modern, London (1998); Melbourne International Biennial (1999); PS1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2001); and The New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2002). He lives and works in Oslo and New York.