Toril Johannessen






Extraordinary Popular Delusions








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Extraordinary Popular Delusions

Installation view, dOCUMENTA(13), Kassel, Germany.
Magic lantern, oil and oil barrell, screen, four screen prints, video 24:00 min loop


Toril Johannessen’s installation Extraordinary Popular Delusions (2012) addresses issues relating to energy cycles and economy.
A custom-built projector projects an image of the sun—the earth’s ultimate source of energy. The projector is in the style of one of
the oldest historical magic lanterns, the first projection apparatuses, which were lit by open flames and used for such divergent
purposes as entertainment and education, propaganda, and spiritistic séances. By using petroleum to light the lantern,
Johannessen establishes a metaphoric and material relationship between the source of light and the projected image—projector
and image become a self-referential system. The installation also includes a suite of prints and a video which is a conversation
with the late physicist Niels Bohr through a clairvoyant medium. Using the larger scheme of our energy system she asks how
matter and ideas are linked and form systems and (short-)circuits, what the illusions and delusions of today are, and how to find
a poetic language to address the crises of our times: of environment, energy, finance.

Commissioned and produced by dOCUMENTA(13) with the support of Arts Council Norway, the City of Bergen and NBK/Vederlagsfondet,
with special thanks to Dipl. Phys. Wolfgang Engels, Carls von Ossietzky Universit, responsible for the construction of the magic lantern.