Not Random Art - Page 21

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15

Hello Kamilla and welcome to NotRandomArt. The current issue is revolving around the problem of communication and identity. Is there any particular way you would describe your identity as an artist but also as a human being in dynamically changing, unstable times? In particular, does your cultural substratum/identity form your aesthetics?

Hello NotRandomArt, and thank you. I think I am very much a product of these dynamically changing, unstable times, both on a professional and a personal level. During the last couple of decades, the world has become smaller and smaller: We are more mobile than ever, and our access to information is more or less infinite. It is easy to get overwhelmed. One of the biggest challenges, at least for people in a privileged position such as my own, consists of making sensible choices. Even if I grew up with all this, I am still in awe. I love that the world has become smaller, that people are moving more than ever. And that I can sit at my desk in an old farm house in a small fjord in Norway, and communicate with the world, real time. But this does not mean that I don’t see the many pitfalls, nor that I am particularly optimistic about what is currently happening to our species. As a woman, I don’t know if I could have been luckier with my point of departure, both in a historical and cultural context. But this position also has a darker side: The cocktail of anxiety, stress and guilt that seems to be such a crucial aspect of contemporary western life. I know these are universal feelings, not exclusive to anybody, but the suicide statistics, especially in the Nordic countries, indicates that the seemingly perfect life we have created for ourselves, might not be working out that well for everybody. My work revolves around the human condition and man as a biological and mythological creature. So, obvious as it might sound, my identity as an artist builds on my identity as a human being: Privileged as a species on top of the food chain, but also with evident, seemingly irreparable, and possibly fatal, flaws. As to the latter part of your question, does my cultural substratum form my aesthetics, the answer is a definite yes. Both on a theoretical level, as described above, and on a more direct, visual one. I am a gatherer and a thief: I collect moments, thoughts, sentences, feelings, memories, sounds, poses, expressions, and whatever else I run into. I store them in my invisible archive, and I bring them out, take them apart and put them together again as I please. In that sense, my sculptures and installations can be described as collages. Indirect, yes, but collages nevertheless. This gathering would surely bring about a very different result, if my ability for movement was more limited, if I just had a small backyard, and not the whole world, to play in. At the same time, my work is influenced in a very direct way, by my upbringing in a much more controlled and closed rural environment, with no internet, and only one stately TV-channel.

Would you like to tell us something about your artistic as well as life background? What inspired you to be in this artistic point in your life when you are now?

I grew up in the north of Norway, in a tiny village at the end of a narrow fjord. At the time when I was born (late seventies), Norway was in the middle of a period of great change, and people, especially in the rural areas, went from being small scale farmers and fishermen to becoming first class consumers. Both my grandfathers were fishermen, it was a hand-to-mouth way of life, and a very dangerous one. But then the oil changed everything, and the country went from modest to filthy rich in a few decades. When my mother was a kid, she used a rowing boat to get to school, a fact that illustrates how fast things have transformed. This is the context in which I grew up. Compared to the norm of contemporary Norwegian families, our life was a modest one when I was a child, nevertheless we always had food on the table. I have chosen a very direct and physical way of expressing myself, through a material that requires hard work, and a lot of patience. I am an artist, but also a craftswoman. A craft is always learned through the body’s direct contact with, and processing of, the material. The work is often repetitive and monotonous. In this process, it is not just the body that forms the material, the body is also shaped and developed through the work. This is true for the visible, outer parts of the body, like calloused skin, and specialized muscles, but also the inside is changed in this process. New patterns of movement create new nerve paths, and motions that in the beginning were forced, become automatized. The actions become a natural part of the body, and the craftsperson develops a specialized anatomy, with physical traits that are a direct result of this body-material interaction. Whether the way I have chosen to express myself is a result of my cultural background, I do not know, but it is an interesting thought, and it does feel very natural for me.

As an artist, I am quite new in the world. I started my formation late, even though I have always, one way or the other, operated within a creative field. I completed my Master of Fine Art in 2015, at the Bergen Academy of Art and Design. Before that I did a bachelor of ceramics at the same academy. I did not do any pre-school or other art courses before that. But I do have a short education as a maker of physical special effects for movies and theatre, a field in which I freelanced for a few years. I enjoyed the creative and the technical parts of it, but felt a strong need for more independence. In addition to that, I have done some creative writing and worked as a journalist at a small newspaper for a couple of years.

Because of my relatively short experience as an artist, I feel like I am in a more or less constant state of experimentation, something that is probably visible in my body of work. I can only hope that this seemingly permanent state of experimentation, which feels playful and informal, will last well into the future. Because of this, my body of work might be considered a bit hap-hazard and random, but it works well for me at this moment of time.

olted by the Thought of Known Places… Sweeney Astray” by Joan Jonas was one of the first performance installations that really made a huge impact on me. I was living in Paris during this time, in the early 90s, with a lot of influences from different cultures. It became the starting point of my own work. Joan Jonas practice has explored ways of seeing, the rhythms of ritual, and the authority of objects and gestures. Jonas continues to find new layers of meanings in themes and questions of gender and identity that have fueled her art for over thirty years. She is a great inspiration still today.

It is impossible to avoid the topic of body consciousness, embodied emotions and the image of body and personal identity that we see in your practice. What is the function of the identity appearing in your artworks – is it a canvas used to present your ideas or rather the subject of the art? What inspired you to use this as a theme in your practice?

I have been developing my visual imagery since I began studying art and film - from conceptual thinking, composition, using light and colour in different ways, through all the different techniques I've utilised over the years in my work and in my collaborations with stage artists such as dancers, musicians and actors. My approach is always developing through exploring these things. Visual imagery in essence is your way of experiencing what you see and transforming it. This is my world that I want to share and express through my art. The body consciousness, embodied emotions and the image of body and personal identity is part of this visual imagery, the emotional essence in my practice. Always present and always developing in different themes and projects.

Marina Abramovic stated: You see, what is my purpose of performance artist is to stage certain difficulties and stage the fear the primordial fear of pain, of dying, all of

which we have in our lives, and then stage them in front of audience and go through them and tell the audience, 'I'm your mirror; if I can do this in my life, you can do it in yours.'Can you relate anyhow to these words?

de-identify myself, by losing my roots, my culture, I would be very happy. Unfortunately the human being does'nt choose the place where he is born. He grows up in a society that automatically identifies, through education, culture, family... More than ever I think it's more important to go on a way of self-knowledge with the aim to meet “the other”.. This other without which we can not exist. It's the same for the artist. It is more important for me to be focused on my practice than to try to define it according to esthetic criteria of identification. It's probably the reason i like to remember the painter Matisse who said or wrote that an artist must never be prisoner of himself, prisoner of a style, prisoner of a reputation.

Would you like to tell us something about your background? Could you talk a little about experiences that has influence the way you currently relate yourself to your artworks?

All my way is influenced by encounterings.

It began by the meeting with my professor of literature at school. More than giving French or Literature classes, she brought us to discover texts, movies, plays, visual artworks and to think about on what we saw or read.. Thanks to her that I met Pierre Vincke, a theatredirector who was worjink in the tradition of Grotowski ... Both of them have led me to go to theater school. In this school I had meetings. Meetings with artists but also and especially human beings that made me discover. I always need o discover rather than to master a practice. It's probably the reason my encounter with Monica Klingler and Boris Nieslony was decisive for me and led me on the path of Performance Art which is a form still difficult to define. Each performance artist has a different definition of what it is...

Could you identify a specific artwork that has influenced your artistic practice or has impacted the way you think about race and ethnic identity in visual culture?

No I don't have a specific artwork that has influenced my artistic practise but many.

I'm influenced by some philsophers as well as poets or musicians or dancers or visual artists but also by some places or landscapes or atmospheres ... For some years, I was used for example to go to India where I was used to follow some traditionnal muscians or to learn bharatanatyam and practice vipassana meditation... Of course this experience has impacted my art work.... This brought me to think and work differently... My experience in India brought me to discover traditionnal strong art and paradoxally to the way of Performance Art. But there I see one common point: to make no separation between art and life and to be here and now, without projection on the future.

It's difficult for me to speak about race and ethnic identity. But I can say that today we miss more and more this notion of “to be here and now” which is more present in some cultures ... By practising Performance Art, it's my way to be connected to this way of thinking. And even in this field actually it's more and more difficult. The society and the art world brings us more and more to plan in advance, to define our work, more than to do. Just to do. To do what we deeply need.

And of course, my encountering with Black Market International and later the notion of Open Source or Open session via PAErsche have also a big impact on my work. When we go on that, each of us perform by sharing time and space but without trying to convince each other on some common way. This is for me a wonderfull way how we can meet each other, regardless of our origin, our race or our “identity”...

Many of your works carry an autobiographical message. Since you transform your experiences into your artwork, we are curious, what is the role of memory in your artistic productions? We are particularly interested if you try to achieve a faithful translation of your previous experiences or if you rather use memory as starting point to create.

My memory is clearly a starting point to create. I don't have any autobiographical message. I use my personnal experience ( what I feel , what I see, what I learn, what I ear...) to work. It's a motor or a material. I'm not able to paint, so I can't do something with red or white or yellow or black colors. All I have is life, a body alive. And I need to do something with that...

My sensation about life sometimes is too intense then I need to transform this intensity in some action. Some artistic action... If people can take something from this action this is great... but I don't want to give them “a specific message” or to control the translation of my experience.