Norwegian Textile Artists – CONTEXTILE 2022
Norwegian Textile Artist’ Association presents thirteen Norwegian and Norway-based textile artists at Contextile 3 September–31 October 2022.
Contextile, one of the most significant international biennials for textile and fibre art, in its 10th anniversary, has selected Norway as the invited country.
In collaboration with the Norwegian Textile Artists (NTK), Contextile organises a Norwegian Textile Art exhibition as part of the biennial’s 2022 edition in Guimarães, Portugal.
The Norwegian presence at the biennale will be spread out over three important cultural sites within the historic city of Guimarães: Museu de Alberto de Alberto Sampaio, Palacete Santiago e Museu da Sociedade Martins Sarmento.
The 13 Norwegian contemporary textile artists will present projects including various perspectives, representing some of the most significant concerns in Norwegian contemporary textile art. The exhibitions are curated by Norwegian textile artist Målfridur Adalsteinsdottir and the curator of Contextile 2022, Cláudia Melo, in collaboration with Janis Jefferies and Kiyoshi Yamamoto.
NTK is a democratic organisation for professional textile artists, and the curators have been particularly concerned with showing a wide range of Norwegian contemporary textile art, its vast activity, and its strong position in the art scene. The selected artists come from different parts of the country, and with different generational voices, both newly graduated and experienced older artists are represented, with works of art in various disciplines.
According to Målfridur Adalsteinsdottir: “Thematically, the works span a larger field broadly dealing with the body, nature, ecology and the environment. Some works explore identity and belonging, while others revolve around our place in time and our close but complex relationship with nature. Several artists convey poetic and dreamy works and facilitate meditative and sensory experiences. Some work with elaborate mathematical pattern construction, some with the sculptural potential in textiles, while others map out and document. There is a spotlight directed onto the polluting textile industry and the difficult working conditions of the seamstress and textile worker, on overconsumption and the political landscape of our time.”The Norwegian Textile Artists Exhibition at Contextile 2022 is a collaboration between Norwegian Textile Artists and Contextile – Contemporary Textile Art Biennial and is supported by Norwegian Crafts through part-financing and advisory roles.
Åse Ljones (b. 1954 in Strandebarm, Norway) lives and works in Bergen. Thus, she presents herself and her practice, “My art process is fundamentally related to embroidery, and it’s a bit like an examination of stitches in cloth. Embroidering by hand is like drawing or writing with a needle. The freedom, flow and rhythm of it create a sense of calm. I start with a format, form or frame and feel free within these boundaries. The needle and the movement create the flow. Sometimes it follows its own path, but I can reign it in at the next turn. The basis is nature: the relationships and experiences of a long life. I draw from within my own attic of experiences, and I’m constantly searching for a movement where the light, shine, lines, stitches and patterns create a tension in the quietness. I want my works to give viewers an experience of something bigger, something that can grow, a type of infinity. I work in both two and three dimensions. The three-dimensional aspect accentuates the shine and light in the thread’s various qualities. Everything is embroidered on linen. Not until I stretch the embroidery onto a frame or a form do I see whether I’ve achieved the result I was searching for.
Åsne Kummeneje Mellem (b. 1995) lives and works in Tromsø, Norway.
She uses art as an arena for exploring her Kven identity and belonging. Through Kven’s craft, called käsityö, she seeks to create a space for dialogue and to reveal a generational gap in the transfer of knowledge. Using conversations with history witnesses as her starting point, she pieces together fragments of a culture on the verge of extinction. At the same time, she experiments and adds her own expression – thus helping the culture not only to breathe but also to be relevant and continue to grow. At the juncture between traditional crafting techniques and creativity, Åsne Kummeneje Mellem explores the nuances of käsityö – what it has been and what it can be in the context of contemporary art. By using traditional techniques and materials in her own way, she wishes to create a room for dialogue about the Kven culture and identity. Natural materials and recycling are essential elements of käsityö, and in her textile works, Åsne Kummeneje Mellem has focused on the art of natural dyeing with stone lichen, a common plant in the north of Norway.
Siri Berqvam (b. 1977 in Skedsmo, Norway) lives and works in Sandefjord.
I’m interested in the network that connects us all. I make somewhat surrealistic landscapes with needle and thread that are inspired by branching in nature and in the human body – from the hyphae of fungus deep underground to impulses arising through nerve cells in the human brain. My works often take the form of site-specific installations inspired by the idea of an uncontrollable, forested wilderness as seen in relation to the body and chaotic mental states. In this way, I compare the forest with the magic of the human spirit. I find it interesting that we always lack control but are constantly trying to achieve it. Fungus represents the opposite of control; it’s mostly invisible and, at the same time, all around us. The installation Fungus could be associated with abandoned houses or cities – places where catastrophes or unemployment have resulted in ghostly ruins reclaimed by nature and now inhabited by animals. Another theme I work with is the crossover between popular culture and the spiritual world. The installation Dial Tone (Summetone) involves contrasting textile materials and outdated technology. It shows different deconstructed versions of telephones with parts made of stitched and embroidered artificial leather. Communication is beyond time, through another wavelength or in another dimension. The enigmatic perspective is to be found in the nature of art, which may not be defined.
Cato Løland (b. 1982 in Kvinnherad, Norway) lives and works in Bergen.
Says: “I’m an interdisciplinary artist and work with various media and materials. My main focus in recent years has been to explore the sculptural potential of textiles and non-pretentious materials. By combining found materials with ready-mades and textiles with various qualities and purposes, I create sculptural works that can enter into dialogue with a specific spatial situation. This is often a situation that relates to the body and the human scale. The inherent qualities, value and function of my chosen materials are challenged by my improvisation and almost archaeological methods. The sculptural assemblages address a way of thinking that questions hierarchies and highlights new and alternative ways of looking at the world that connects us all.
Linn Rebekka Åmo (b. 1978 in Bodø, Norway) lives and work in Bodø.
Says: “My work is textile based, and the work process has several phases. To begin, I work spontaneously with drawing, collecting materials and cutting. In material selection, I don’t impose limitations but instead, remain open. I work with repurposing textiles because of my interest in their history, and I’m also concerned with the environmental aspect of reusing materials. Working on my textile collages, I put together free-standing elements of colour, form and materials to make elaborate compositions with different textile qualities. I’m constantly gathering materials that may have small historical references, experiences – fragments of lived life. The themes of the works revolve around the discovery of nature, time and our abuse of nature. Still, the works are ambiguous and can be interpreted in many ways. I let myself be inspired by nature’s creatures and forms, allowing this inspiration to take on new shapes in different fabrics.”
Malin Bulow (b. 1979 in Jönköping, Sweden) lives and works in Oslo.
“I develop my works through two main components – elasticity and fluidity – which relate specifically to the inherent potential for movement within my chosen materials. Always site-specific, the installations are made with flexible materials stretched into monumental sculptures, which create tension between the venue’s architecture and setting and traditional representations of bodies in classical sculpture. The installations are ‘activated’ by dancers who perform inside textile membranes that conceal and hinder them and act as extensions of their skin. These ‘elastic sculptures’ sometimes become performative still lifes – compositions that change almost imperceptibly, so slow are their movements. Like giant umbilical cords or foetal membranes, the large sculptures extend the limits of the dancers’ bodies until they melt into their host architecture and vice versa. This equivocality around the body, its borders and norms is at the heart of my work. By using the body as a material in its own right, I explore our evolving relationships with ourselves, with each other and in relation to our environment.
Liilian Saksi (b. 1989 in Norrköping, Sweden) lives and works in Skotterud, in rural eastern Norway.
The starting point for my artistic practice is raw wool, and hand spinning is my primary technique. I install the finished textile surfaces on walls or as free-standing constructions. These textile surfaces are variations on a recurring theme: the interactions between colours and the colours’ interaction with the wool. My working methods are based on self-determined limitations that alternate between intuitive and systematic decisions. In recent years I’ve worked a lot with the sprang technique. Sprang is a form of braiding that can be reminiscent of weaving, but instead of being built with warp and weft, the surface is made with one or more continuous threads. I stretch the strands of yarn to make them parallel and, row by row, hand-braid the strands into each other. A work grows from the middle outwards. I use wool from the sheep on my family’s farm in Sweden and from my own flock on the farm where I’ve lived and worked since 2020. My motivation is to have the artworks anchored in a life situation, particularly in relationships with other beings. This motivation stems from my interest in humankind’s relationships with animals and questions about the intrinsic value of animals.
Tore Magne Gundersen (b. 1957 in Froland, Norway) grew up in Kristiansand and lives and works in Oslo.
“After working with sculpture, painting, drawing, printed art and animation, over the last eight years, I have worked more and more with textiles. I knit and sew both by hand and with a machine. I use yarn, calico, chiffon, canvas, straw, ready-mades and other things in the production of appliqué works and more or less three-dimensional objects. The largest appliqué works are up to 12 metres long and may be called friezes or reminiscent of comic strips since they invite viewers to read them as stories. The works become largely impulsive. I fish out figures from the constant stream of alternating thoughts, images and emotions that flow through my day and night. The works can probably be considered as a confrontation and adaptation of my own demons, things I fear, figures from the subconscious, and scenes from dreams. Recently, concerns about the precarious situation of the planet and the danger of global collapse have become mixed with personal precariousness, confusion, ageing, instability and death, so I can no longer fully distinguish between the two aspects.
Karin Aurora Lindell (b. 1955 in Husqvarna, Sweden) lives and works in Trondheim.
I work conceptually, focusing on and problematising different aspects of today’s textile industry – for instance, the flagging out the West’s textile production to the East, globalisation, human dignity, consumer power and environmental and health-related issues. Labour is far too cheap in the dirty textile industry. At the same time, I want to make visible women’s textile traditions and women’s culture in general and to see them from the international and global perspective that is strongly rooted in my works. Underlying the legacy of women’s textile traditions are centuries of knowledge, insight, toil and care. Textiles are an anonymous but important part of women’s history.
Sidsel Palmstrøm (b. 1967 in Trondheim, Norway) lives and works in Oslo.
I work conceptually with textile objects and installations. In many of my works, soft and pliable textiles are combined into a stringent form with the help of simple strategies. I seek a point of balance in the encounter between an idea, a material and a technique. It is a space where something can emerge and point beyond the material. The two works shown at Contextile were both originally made for a solo show in Norway in 2014, and they have been reconstructed especially for Contextile 2022. They can be read in different contexts, but there is no doubt that something is at stake. There are obvious references to some of the huge global challenges we face today: the ecological crisis caused by overconsumption and the polluting textile industry, and the constant flow of migrants, whether they are refugees seeking protection from war or simply desperate to cross borders in order to find work and live a decent life.
Ingunn Bakke (b. 1966 in Høyanger, Norway) lives and works in Oslo.
I draw and construct geometric patterns digitally and then, using modules, create them in large formats. My working process is all about form, repetition, rhythm, colour and order. I enjoy working with installations, and my ambition is to develop a sort of dialogue between the works of art and the specific spaces where they are exhibited. Until recently, I was printing patterns on wool and silk cloth. Currently, I’m exploring ‘textile’ practices and traditions which have been applied to wood-based and harder materials. I see myself as strongly rooted in a Nordic textile tradition.
Anne Knutsen og Karen Kviltu Lidal
Anne Knutsen (b. 1956 in Bergen, Norway) lives and works in Ski, Norway.
I use flatweave techniques to create monumental textiles with a minimalist visual expression. Through these means, I seek to give the woven surfaces immaterial qualities. The ephemeral, shifting and unstable aspects arise when light hits the painstakingly constructed woven material and animate its surfaces, giving viewers transitory experiences as they move about in the room. The room’s dimensions and character are important for the shaping and mounting of the textiles. I work a lot with models in order to achieve optimal interaction between the textiles and the room. Sometimes I mount them directly on the wall, almost like wallpaper, at other times a bit away from the wall, and in yet other situations, I mount them on simple free-standing constructions that give the textiles more sculptural qualities. My intention is to facilitate spatial, meditative and sensory experiences.
Karen Kviltu Lidal (b. 1979 in Akershus, Norway) lives and works in Oslo and Berlin.
In my practice, I weave, draw and make textile sculptures and video performances that map out, trace, document and displace architecture and spaces. I’m interested in the interplay between logic and bodily experience, and it’s important to me that the projects be executed through craft and the work of the body. Often using my own body as a scale, I investigate built structures in urban areas, for instance, how cities and their architecture relate to the human body and how they hold connections to gender, power and the social sphere.”
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