In my work I explore the relationship between object and emotion. The object can be a mundane found object with a story relevant to its owner, or a unusual found object with historical value. The object can be a physical place, such as a church, a imagined space such as an art installation, or the more abstract psycho-spiritual space created as a result of performing a ritual. I am fascinated by our responses to the emotional object – things, places, spaces – and the way we attach stories to the object as a result. What does the object itself carry and contain? I want to move people by questioning conventional ways of thinking.
I often incorporate ritual(s) in my work. The concept and definition of ritual vary; my focus is the ceremoniousness and solemnity that accompany ceremonial acts. I grew up in Scandinavia, and religion did not play a large role in my upbringing. I often wonder about the religious aspects of Danish culture and what role they play in people’s lives. I am fascinated by this Unknown and by the mystery of religion. I am intrigued by its formal elements, such as formal language and the specific architecture of religious space, and by my own emotional response despite the fact that I am not religious. Is religion something we feel or something we do?
From my body of work I have chosen three pieces to discuss here.
In The Stone Ax I explore the relationship between object and myth. By myth I mean the object’s combined emotional impact of its historical and cultural value to the audience. In The Stone Ax I juxtapose the original object with its exact replica. What is the difference between the two identical objects, if any? Is there a difference is emotional response to each object, and if so, what is the difference? The feeling we get is different when the object is a replica because the replica does not have the myth of the original. Does that mean that the original holds the myth, that the myth is transmitted through the original? In The Stone Ax I experiment intuitively with the relationship between my contemporary, physical body and the material objects through movement and emotion. By doing this, I express a sense of dualism, which is brought forth thanks to the use of my intuitive interaction with the objects.
In the installation The Dream Machinery I explore the concept of dreaming by creating a journey through the different stages of one dream. For this piece I used my Test Probe research method. Approximately two-dozen test subjects were given a test probe each and asked to complete various tasks, including a kind of interview questionnaire. Based on these test probe results and the completed interviews, I created fictional characters for the final installation. The installation consists of various sculptures, three-dimensional sets, photography, and performance in seven different rooms. To create The Dream Machinery, I collaborated with actors, sound designers and a lighting designer.
In my most recent performance, From Dust to Dust, I explore the Mexican tradition and rituals of the Day of the Dead. In Scandinavia we do not celebrate an equivalent holiday that allows you to commune with the dead after they have died. In Denmark when you die, you have a funeral service, you are buried, and then you are dead – communication is over. The Day of the Dead is intriguing to me because of my curiosity about religion and what religion is – is religion a feeling or an action? In the Mexican tradition you visit your deceased loved ones at the cemetery and ritualistically “share a meal”. The performance of this ritual creates a spiritual space that bridges life and death and allows the living to spend time with their dead. From Dust to Dust is a ritualized performance in a Danish cemetery that examines the distance between life and death. The performance consists of a ritual text and transitional movements performed by me with three others, as we explore the space between being alive and being dead.
Art allows the artist and audience to focus attention on a specific topic and ask a question that doesn’t necessarily need a specific answer. The questions raised by an artwork can keep that work alive in your memory. I want to keep asking these questions.
Disclaimer: All work represents the views of the INDIVIDUAL ARTISTS & AUTHORS who created them, and are not those of the school or museum of the Art Insitute.