Ignas Krunglevicius’s Interrogation (2009) is based on the police transcript of a 2004 murder investigation in the United States after Mary Kovic allegedly killed her husband with his own shotgun. In the video work, all visual information is condensed and refined into lines of text from Kovic’s interview: a plain white font on a black background synchronised with a minimalistic electronic soundtrack. This simple aesthetic treatment allows the complex psychological exchange behind the words to seep through, drawing attention to what is omitted and unseen.
Throughout the interrogation, Kovic is clearly confused and doesn’t remember much of the detail; she can’t, or won’t, find words to express what happened. Her hesitations, thoughts, memories, anger or regret, perhaps even her innocence, all lie somewhere beyond words, hinted at by the flashes of bold colour that intermittently take over the screen. On Cockatoo Island we encounter the work where overcrowded prisons and underground isolation cells held many in similar circumstances. As we watch and listen, we witness the roles of perpetrator and victim become unfastened.
The repetitive drum-heavy soundtrack (Krunglevicius trained as a composer) underlines the precision of the language chosen. Every word counts. Beat by insistent beat, word by word, the interrogator pushes on, trying to get Kovic to confess. Yet the piece ends without resolution, for ultimately the artist’s concern is not the specifics of this case but rather the psychology of power in general. Interrogation highlights the use and abuse of language in the coercions and manipulations that take place every day on small and large scales.
Interrogation reflects Krunglevicius’s installation, video, text and sound practice that explore themes of power, control and violence. Using criminal confessions, court transcripts and police interrogations as his subject matter, the artist confronts his viewers with artworks that engender a close consideration of the authoritative constructs of contemporary society and the psychology of power.
Confessions (2011) is a single-channel video installation based on a series of eight confessions collected from convicted murderers by federal institutions. Stripping back any material referring to the actual crimes committed, Krunglevicius reduces the perpetrators’ declarations to short statements of raw emotion, including only those sentences where they express their feelings. The text, accompanied by a disjointed soundtrack, appears in flashes of white lettering on a black background, posing questions such as, ‘How do I feel about it?’, and a series of answers, including ‘I don’t feel about it’, ‘Pain’s not bad, it’s good’ and ‘It teaches you things’. By focusing on the emotions of those who have committed a reprehensible crime, Krunglevicius prompts the audience to inadvertently relate to their rationalisation, regret and indifference.
The installation Hostage (2012) refers to an incident in 2011 in which anonymous hackers infiltrated the servers of more than 50 police departments in the United States, releasing sensitive information associated with law enforcement including police training files and videos. Hostage features a 20-minute instructional video covering techniques and methods of dealing with hostage situations in prisons and detention centres. The monitor screening the footage is turned to face the wall; the audience, unable to see the video yet exposed to the soundtrack, imagine their own version of events.
Krunglevicius graduated from his studies in composition at the Norwegian Academy of Music in 2010. Solo exhibitions of his work include ‘DERIVATIVES’, House of Foundation, Moss (2013); ‘ATTRIBUTION’, Oslo Kunstforening (2011); and ‘DISSONANCE’, Aando Fine Art, Berlin (2010). He has also participated in numerous group exhibitions and music festivals, including Norwegian Sculpture Biennial, Oslo (2013) and Ultima Oslo Contemporary Music Festival (2011), and was nominated for the prestigious Nam June Paik award in 2010. In 2009, Krunglevicius was the recipient of the Sparebankstiftelsen DnB NOR Stipendutstilling Art Prize and participated in the 26th Kassel Documentary Film and Video Festival, where he received an honorary mention.