• 28 January 2023 20:11

Siri Hermansen – I WILL

Italiano (Italian)

SOFT GALLERI di Oslo
September 16 – October 17 2021

From the Soft Galleri press release:

The flag project I WILL is a continuation of Siri Hermansen’s artistic research on adaptation and survival strategies in societies that undergo change processes. In the project, she recourse in the well-known American history professor Timothy Snyder and his book On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons to Learn from the 20th Century (2017).

Through the book’s 20 chapters, Snyder talks about how one should act to survive in the best possible way when living under tyranny. As an artistic strategy, Hermansen has appropriated Snyder’s theses by writing ‘I will’ or ‘I will not’ in front of each sentence. In so doing, she individualises and embodies them. Hence, they become private, subjective dissidence and personal guidelines for how the artist should act and react if the worst should happen. Thus, the sentences become a visualisation and problematisation of tyranny, at the same time as she makes a promise to herself – a pact that is ideological simultaneously as it is utopian because it would be difficult to carry out in full.

The project can also be seen as an artistic manifesto. An art manifesto is a public declaration about an artist’s intentions, aims, or views or creative movement. I WILL is a protest and clarification of Hermansen’s position. It is a reaction to the undemocratic processes in the Western world today, which share similarities with events in the 1930s when fascism and Nazism gained ground and became the democratic choice of the majority of voters in certain countries. By using the flag as a symbol, Hermansen points to the propaganda aesthetics of totalitarian regimes. The project’s form and content can trigger public discussions and private thoughts on democracy as a central pillar in a civilised society.

Ph. Credit Øystein Thorvaldsen

I will not obey in advance

I will beware of the one-party state

I will remember professional ethics

I will be wary of paramilitaries

I will be kind to our language

I will investigate

I will contribute to good causes

I will listen for dangerous words

I will be as courageous as I can

I will defend institutions

I will take responsibility for the face of the world

I will be reflective if I must be armed

I will stand out

I will believe in truth

I will make eye contact and small talk

I will learn from peers in other countries

I will be calm when the unthinkable arrives

I will establish a private life*

I will practice corporeal politics*

*Not on display.

Year: 2021. Dimensions: 117 cm (160 cm with flagpole) x 80 cm.

Technique/materials: Print on synthetic fabric, flagpole in aluminium

Ph. Credit Øystein Thorvaldsen

Siri Hermansen (b. 1969 in Geneva, Switzerland) is a filmmaker, photographer and installation artist who lives and works in Oslo. She explores unanticipated processes in societies that undergo profound economic, environmental, and cultural change in her practice. In this way, she offers unusual micro-perspectives on contemporary ways of coping with and adapting to change.

Ph. Credit Øystein Thorvaldsen

Hermansen is a professor and head of the master’s degree programme ‘Art and Public Space’ at Oslo National Academy of the Arts, the school from which she received her doctorate in 2016.

Selected projects by Hermansen are Bipolar Horizon, 2006 (The Pyramid, Svalbard), Chernobyl Mon Amour, 2012 (Chernobyl, Ukraine), Land of Freedom, 2012 (Detroit, USA), Terra Nullius, 2013 (Kiruna, Sweden), Omforlatelse / Apology, 2014 (Repparfjorden, Norway), Dreaming in the Stonebed Valley, 2016 (Israel and Palestine) and Islands of Memories, 2018 (Germany, World War II). In 2016, at Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Hermansen defended her doctoral research entitled The Economy of Survival, which dealt with the art projects at Chernobyl, Detroit and Kiruna, among other places. All the works have received favourable critique and been shown for many years in larger exhibition contexts, both in Norway and abroad.

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Ph. Credit Øystein Thorvaldsen