Turning (Back) Installation and performance for Afgang at Kunsthal Charlottenborg 2017
In reference to Turning (Back)
The ethnographical museum in Copenhagen puts historical artifacts on display: Vases, tools, jewelry, sculptures. A relationship to the past is established in these galleries through the link of preserved material. Vitrines become shiny time machines, constructed to let material last forever and keeping it from entering the present. Furthermore, they monumentalize the object: “here is the story of our civilization”. There is a certain politics of archeology reflected in the display strategies of the ethnographical museum and I became interested in this way of archiving and institutionalizing cultural heritage.
I am investigating the possibility that material objects can function as a link to the past beyond the institutionalization of cultural heritage. Historical constructs create a political narrative of society today but through material I experience a connection to an un-narrated past: A resonance in stone, steel and clay of voice-less humans that have touched and used these material. It is hard to imagine the specific setting for change to happen in a political reality where capitalism holds the ability to enfold subversive movements and telling other people what to do only seems to enlarge the social divide. As the need for unification increases, I turn towards the past and the promise it holds of evoking kinship.
Based on the thought that a material can have inherent information about its use through generations, I have worked with clay and learned to throw it (In Danish it is called “dreje” which directly translates into “turning”). I try to listen to the material – at first I could only hear the 1970’s but later on, much earlier time-periods started to resonate. Clay has been used in almost every culture we know of, especially for domestic purposes such as building houses and as containers for food. In the work Turning (Into) two dancers turned my unfired clay bowls in circles on the floor to slowly dissolve them. The circles portrayed a symbol referring to language and semiotics and the repetitive movement pointed at traditions of domestic labor. It furthermore created a monotonous sound and a trancelike atmosphere bringing the historical reference into the present.
For my graduation work Turning (Back) I have continued this research into clay and performance and I am building a scenography taking shape as a half-timber wall (Bindingsværk)– the traditional Northern-European technique for building houses where clay is thrown onto woven straw. The scenography presents itself in the space as an island, claiming its own territory within the gallery. The props for the performance are vases that I am turning in clay. I am collaborating with dancers and choreographers Paolo Gile and Adriano Wilfert Jensen to develop a performance in which the dialogue with the material continues: The information that lies inherent in the clay resonates with a bodily unconscious evoked through the medium of dance. The performance will be based on the idea of organizing principles – a set of rules developed to occupy the moment and the exhibition-situation. In order to develop these organizing principles, we observe the already given circumstances of the exhibition-condition and establish a hidden logic to find some kind of leverage within them.