The exhibition Ape Rules, O.K.! is dominated by a number of monumental monkeys’ heads that surround and stare down the visitors from central points in the exhibition space. Although the pieces are thematically related to Carstensen’s large exhibition projects over the last several years - Becoming Animal in Den Frie Exhibition Building and The Museum for Religious Art in Lemvig, as well as Dyregørelser at Galleri Tom Christensen - the exhibition at Steinprent is also curated with some new revelations in mind. A recent report on Faroese television concluded that a mere 21% of the Faroese population believes in the Theory of Evolution, which states the common ancestry of humans and apes. A shocking 52% of the population, on the other hand, proclaimed a belief in Creationism, i.e. the belief that humans are created by God or some sort of higher power.
The exhibition contains several references to the many years’ collaboration between Claus Carstensen and the Faroese lithographic workshop, Steinprent. This is apparent in some of the collages, which consist paintings onto which lithographic fragments have been applied - Fragments of lithographic works that have been created at the workshop. Furthermore, there are three pieces that, in a manner of speaking, return to their place of origin, in that they consist of elements of the lithographic process. Namely the green rubber mats from the lithographic presses, on which one can still make out three of Carstensen’s lithographic subjects.
The collaboration between Claus Carstensen and Steinprent, which has lasted for sixteen years so far, is weighty and significant. Also in relation to Faroese art and art history. So far, it has resulted in numerous shows and approximately one hundred lithographic works, as well as several book releases. For example: Dét, hvorom man hverken kan tale ellar tie and Lille Dæmonologi with essays by Søren Ulrik Thomsen and Carstensen’s heliographic prints.
In terms of his subject matter, which frequently orbits interhuman brutalisation, Carstensen can not be despribed as someone afraid of conflict. Whether it is the genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge, the nazis or so-called common human behavior. The primary subject matter has been animals the last couple of times that Carstensen has been working at Steinprent. In 2015, in collaboration with Jan Andersson, Carstensen created the monumental Lithographic piece, Hvalp (Puppy). A piece depicting an aggresive barking German Shepherd, with a snippet of text, phrased as a death threat, taken from a hate mail sent to the Danish poet Yahya Hassan. It reads (loosely translated from Danish): “Fucking dog, you slut. You are going to die, puppy. You filthy whore. I really want to kill you. Fucking cut you in to tiny little pieces, you bum. I hope I will see you some day and I promise you Hell.”
The term Becoming Animal is the starting point for Carstensen’s subject matter. It is a phrase that he describes as a two-sided anthropological plane, on which both sides are interconnected. It delineates graduations of notions, such as: culture, conscientious occurences, self-awareness and human characteristics. The idea that humans are mindful of the fact that we do not live on an open, endless terrain, but see ourselves losing territory. Whereas animals see an unenclosed, unlimited and timeless landscape, where there is no ‘before’ or ‘after’ and therefore neither any consciousness of death. From Carstensen’s perspective, there is an agressive/active and a passive model of ‘Becoming Animal’. The passive side ‘Becoming Animal’ relates to an enormous longing for eternity. The active side ‘Creating Animal’ is about turning ‘the others’ into animals, with an awareness of an hierarchical elevation in relation to those that one degrades.
The spectator is taken aback by the apes’ glances and their abiguous nature. The open jaws with the agressive presentation of teeth versus the monkeys’ sorrowful expression indicates a form of thoughtfulness. ‘The Eyes Are the Windows to the Soul’ reflects on the significant symbolism that we impart on the eyes - In many ways, the notion of the ‘human particular’ lies in the glance. The ape that the Faroese society is now faced with became embarrassingly obvious in Heini í Skorini’s TV-documentary Gud signi Føroyar (God Bless the Faroe Islands), wherein the religious persuasions of the Faroese people was mapped out. Here it became clear, that the Faroe Islands are statistically more similar to some fundamentalist regimes in the world, in comparison to some of the other usual commonalities with Northern Europe.
Summer is a very busy time for the people who work in Steinprent, the lithographic workshop in Tórshavn. But somehow in between the many visitors, they seem to manage to get a lot of work done. Downstairs the exhibition by Randi Samsonsen is still on. Upstairs the Danish artist, Peter Callesen has been working at the workshop and his three lithographic works will be part of his exhibition in Steinprent in august.
The Faroese artist, Hansina Iversens works in the non representational field, she has finished a series of lithographic works this last week with fascinating material effects. They contain several layers of colour like the piece at the top of this page, which seems to have a burning sensation which is juxtaposed by the cool, strange transparent silver grey form on top. It has the shape and appearance of a spooky face, but it is in fact just an organic formation of colour.
Í gjár læt framsýningin hjá Randi Samsonsen In Search of Lost Colours upp í Steinprenti. Har vóru nógv fólk og lagið var gott í nýrenoveraða og kekkaða framsýningarhølinum, sum var ein flottur og væl hóskandi karmur kring tey bundnu, heklaðu, seymaðu og samansettu listaverkini. Framsýningin verður hangandi til 23.juni. Farið í Steinprenti og fáið tykkum eina góða, fjølbroytta og øðrvísi listauppliving.
In Search of Lost Colours
The opening of Randi Samsonsen’s exhibition ‘In Search of Lost Colours’ takes place at Steinprent (Tórshavn, Faroe Islands) on Saturday the 12th of May at 3pm.
Randi Samsonsen’s main medium is textile. Knitted, crocheted, sewn and stuffed artworks. Lithographic works have also been created for the exhibition.
The exhibition is conceptual. Both the lithographic and textile works have the same starting-point, which the artist has referred to as colour memories from the different homes that she grew up in and visited as a child. From childhood, we are blessed with an outstanding ability to sense our surroundings. With our untarnished senses, we see, smell, hear and feel the rooms surrounding us and the things in them so thoroughly, that we are able to relive these sensory recollections many years later.
Colours play a vital role in Randi Samsonsen’s memories, which is the reason for her empirical take on colour memories.
Through studies of family photo albums she has been making notes and colour charts, which she has been using for both her textile and graphic works. All of the pieces in the exhibition are fundamentally non-representational. Randi Samsonsen’s colour memories manifest themselves in organic shapes, which she places lying, standing or hanging in the space. Some pieces have very natural characteristics, reminiscent of coccons, hanging plant stems or bladder wracks. But the human body also plays a crucial role in these works, from an inspirational, as well as a comprehensive standpoint.
Randi Samsonsen’s textile work relates to the human body, with anthropomorphous shapes evocative of body parts, but this is also art that is to be understood in a complete physical, tactile and sensory manner. Several works are soft, whilst others possess a more rough exterior. The processes used for the creation of these pieces are a wide variety of needlework. The same, which for centuries, have been used to produce common everyday items. But Randi Samsonsen’s work forces a different perspective on this. Somewhere between the known and the unknown, her work surprises by making us laugh, frown and recall.
Randi Samsonsen lives and works in Tórshavn. She holds a Master of Design from the Designschool in Kolding, Denmark. She is a textile artist and also works as teacher at Glasir Tórshavn College. In 2013 she had a solo show at Nordatlantens Brygge, Copenhagen. She has curated several exhbitions at the National Gallery of the Faroe Islands, as well as taken part in a myriad of group shows in the Faroe Islands and internationally.
- Traditionsbrud, Hobro, Denmark
- IsThisKnit, Copenhagen, Denmark.
- Aguille en Feté, Paris, France
- Our Arctic Future, Berlin, Germany
Jack Kampmann was a Danish artist who became a very important figure in the development of Faroese modern art. He lived in the Faroe Islands for many years with his wife and children. He arranged art exhibitions and also he was a teacher in the first Faroese art school. Faroese artist, Ingálvur av Reyni has acknoledged Kampmann as one of his most important mentors.
The exhibition runs from 4ht of May to the 22nd of July 2018
On the 4th of May the exhibition "Jack Kampmann - A Modernist on the Faroe Islands" opens at the National Gallery of the Faroe Islands.
Nils Ohrt, director, bids welcome. Hanna Kampmann, daughter of the artist, opens the exhibition.
Lea and Janus Kampmann play a couple of songs.
Everyone is welcome to the opening of the exhibition. The museum is open every day of the week from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Also on holidays
Forlagið Eksil has released the second poetry collection "Korallbruni", by poet Anna Malan Jógvansdóttir. Her first collection "Undirfloyma" was published in 2015, and in 2016 she was awarded the Culture Prize for Young Artists by the Faroese Cultural Ministry.
Anna Malan Jógvansdóttir is 23 years old and is currently a student at the Literature College "Forfatterskolen" in Copenhagen. Anna Malan has illustrated both collections herself.
Anna Malan says that "Korallbruni" is an attempt to write herself out of human nature and into nature and let nature take control. Anna Malan is inspired by the posthuman and nature-philosophic trend which currently is much in fashion on the Nordic art and literature scene. With this poetry collection Anna Malan wants to remind us that we need to reconsider our place on Earth, and that earthly matter is not just dead and idle but a part of everything, not least ourselves.
From 6th to 29th of April the annual exhibition, Várframsýningin, arranged by Føroysk Myndlistafólk, the Faroese Artist Society, can be seen in the National Gallery of the Faroe Islands. This is an open-submission show which every year is arranged and selected by different members of the Faroese Artist Society. This years organizers are Annika Gregoriussen, Randi Samsonsen and Jón Sonni Jensen.
Participating in the exhibition this year: Alda Mohr Eyðunardóttir, Anna Kathrina Højgaard, Astri Luihn, Bjarni Mohr, Bjørg Jacobsen, Dan Helgi í Gong, Jana Jónhardsdóttir, Jóhan Martin Christiansen, Maria Smith, Nicolina Højgaard, Pernille Mejslov, Vagnur Dam, Vígdis Petersen and Zacharias Heinesen.
Many of the participators are quite young, several of them are quite new to art. This cannot be said about Jóhan Martin Christiansen, he is a quite experienced artist who has created several solo shows the last years. Jóhan Martin Christiansen exhibits two interesting works made by dark coloured cloth diapers, that are put together in monumental hanging compositions.
The perhaps youngest appearing artwork is the springy painting by nestor amongst the Faroese artists, Zacharias Heinesen. The title “kan-din-sky” is a playful hint to the abstract pioneer artist, Wassily Kandinsky, as is the colourful abstract composition in shimmering, blue and orange, yellow, purple and pink squares and rectangular forms.
The artist Dan Helgi í Gong has for many years worked as a DJ and a sound artist. His first appearance in the Spring Exhibition was only two years ago. His video installation in this years exhibition is called "You Should Clean Yourself" and deals with shame. It shows the artist lying/sitting in a tub like a little boy, performing dance movements while he is moving around. The tub filled with water is also present physically in the exhibition. This is of course hardly the first time in art history we experience an artist posing naked. But in the small society of the Faroe Islands this is a very courageous self portrait and a work of art with lots of interesting allusions to childhood and sexuality as it also deals with and poses questions to masculinity. According to the title it´s about shame and the effort to wash the shame away. The effort seems to be hopeless since it´s bound to the body and person.
We don´t often see queer art in the Faroe Islands and therefore the video installation by Dan Helgi í Gong seems refreshing. Gay, bisexual, and transgender rights in the Faroe Islands are relatively similar to that of Denmark, but the progress of LGBT rights has been much slower and it was not untill april 2016, the Faroese Parliament passed legislation legalizing civil same-sex marriage on the Faroes, recognizing same-sex marriages established in Denmark and abroad and allowing same-sex adoption.
The video installation is rather dark with a blue light which give allusions to classic video installations by pioneer Bruce Nauman and maybe a poster from the old movie Blaue Engel with the german actress and singer, Marlene Dietrich posing. In the video "You Should Clean Yourself" we sense a sort of development during 2.09 minutes (the sound lasts longer) from a closed to a more open and expressive body language. The contrast between the childlike position in the tub and the somewhat sexualized body language makes the work both grotesque and very moving. If the person in the tub was a woman, then this would be a rather standard pinup position – women have frequently been staged as sexualized babies with large ignorant eyes in tubs, on cars, in showers. The plastic tub is an interesting, but rather understated part of the installation
The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 1pm to 4pm. Also open on Flagday, 25th of April and General Prayer Day, 27th of April.
The new exhibition by visual artist Hanni Bjartalíð in Steinprent, Skálatrøð 16 in Tórshavn runs untill 5.may 2018.
In this exhibition, the artist, who was born in 1968 in Klaksvík Faroe Islands, unfolds new aspects of his art, but is at the same time quoting characteristics from old pieces in his growing body of work. Hanni Bjartalíð is an extremely meticulous artist, he is always working. His method seems playful and sensuous, driven by intuition and continuous material research, an approach that echoes global, contemporary art, which clearly emphasizes the artistic process.
With Hanni Bjartalíð material research in itself becomes such an extensive and open part of the expression, that is reminiscent of a form of deconstruction. The artist examines and deconstructs the artistic ideas in his pieces and presents them within the pieces themselves. Hanni Bjartalíð started out as a painter and I think there is a clear painterly feeling in all the surfaces in his sculptures and carved out pictures. Recycling is a defining characteristic of Hann Bjartalíð´s artistic process. No matter what he is doing, he will use up all the material, including any scrap paper or leftover wood. Hanni Bjartalíð has been working on wooden objects for about twelve years. These wooden sculptures are made from recycled material, little pieces of wooden chairs, bread boards, blinds and rubbish. His procedure is always cumulative and aims to bring myriad image elements together into a whole, which appears raw, poetic and highly unique.
The works by Hanni Bjartalíð are partly inspired by childhood memories. Some of them look a bit like the huts we would build when we were little, while they also appear enigmatic and characterized by philosophical gravitas in their non-functional quietness. Hanni Bjartalíð once explained to me how he liked being by the seaside as a child. One reason was alle the fascinating objects that would drift ashore, each with a plausible exiting story.
Boxes and their capacities have always fascinated Hanni Bjartalíð. As a boy he was given a sewing box with lots of tiny compartments, and he was very fond of it. This spatial interest in compartments and compartmentalization is evident in all of Hanni Bjartalíðs work also in the current exhibition. Some of the works seem to be compartments with bottles and even though the works are relatively small, the bottles seem monumental and oversized whereby the works get a sort of surrealistic touch. Other works are reminiscent of ritualistic objects with primitive yet figures and forms. One sculpture is tall, slender and colourful like a totem pole but with references to industrial architecture both in different forms and painted on the surface. Photograps cannot capture this exhibition, these works must be seen in Steinprent.
Summer is arond the corner and so are the tourists, the visitors. It seems like the interest for Faroe Islands is increasing, not only concerning the beautiful landscape and surroundings but also art and culture. This is in fact the reason for why this text that you read at the moment is in english. I usually write this art site, listaportal.com (art portal) in my native language, which is Faroese and I will contue to do so - because it is a very special and beatiful language, spoken only by some 70.000 people. But from now on and during the summer period I will write about Faroese art in English on this place. The first article is about the prolific contemporary artist Tóroddur Poulsen in Raadvad Denmark who was born in Tórshavn in 1957.
Of Tóroddur Poulsens almost forty publications, some are novels. Poulsen published music as well, but most of his publications are poetry collections. He is, however, more than a literary artist. He has produced the largest number of lithographic prints in the lithographic workshop Steinprent, than any other artist and he has created a multitude of oil paintings, collages, watercolour paintings, installations, book sculptures and objects and he also has a blog on the internet.
His body of work, which is constantly growing and expanding, is characterized by extensive plenteousness and interconnectedness. By this I mean that the artist is continuously commenting on parts of his work in his other work. This means essentially that we the recipients become parts of the artistic process, as it unfolds in his comments, blogs, artwork, poems, installations, music and prose.
Within the Faroese art tradition, Tóroddur Poulsen’s graphical work represents a new departure. In his massive treatise, Sekel/ Century - A Hundred Years of Faroese Art, the Danish art historian, Mikael Wivel, finishes his exploration of Faroese art with Tóroddur Poulsen, whose stone lithographs are very well represented, taking up some six pages of the book. In a review of the Stensætninger [Stone Phrases] exhibition at Kunstmuseum Sønderjylland, the art critic, Lars Ole Knippel also stressed that Tóroddur Poulsen’s work represents something new in Faroese art. Under the headline: “The Faroese Innovator”, the critic gave the exhibition five of six stars and noted:
“Tóroddur Poulsen has distanced himself from the landscape art that many of his fellow countrymen almost shamelessly and monotonously have been cultivating for many years. They produced a very safe and rewarding commercial product, but with nary a thought for any artistic greatness. Therefore, it is truly liberating to experience a graphic artist with something on his mind, who actually risks something instead of leaning uncritically towards a tradition. He comes like a fresh wind from the Atlantic and renews Faroese art with 120 graphic works, installations and poems”
With its constantly confrontational attitude, coupled with its innovative, provocative and experimental nature, the work of Tóroddur Poulsen can be best categorized as “avant-garde”, according to the oldest definition of the concept, i.e., the one formulated by Italian literary critic, Renato Poggioli, in The Theory of the Avant-Garde published in 1962. Poggioli linked the avant-garde with the revolutionary and radical. He also tied the avant-garde to the Bohemian culture of Paris in the middle of the 19th century. Even though more recent and more precise definitions have been formulated for “avant-garde”, the emphasis that Poggioli put on antagonism, nihilism and activism is consistent with the confrontation with Faroese society that Tóroddur Poulsen constantly exhibits.
Tóroddur Poulsen writes like a visual artist and paints like a poet. He has always been drawing, he says. Between the words, small drawings and doodles have emerged together with the poems. In his artistic work, he has succeeded in keeping an easy, spontaneous appearance, even though the works themselves are complex and deep. The poem Dreymur um skerpikjøt undir morgunlestrinum / Dream about dried cured meat during morning prayers, which describes a video installation that the poet saw at an exhibition in Charlottenborg in Copenhagen, and which, apparently, was built up in the same cumulative way as the poem, which is a listing of different kiosk goods and clothing. In several of his poems, there is an interesting accord between the graphic form and the content in the poem:
it is thundering
and the words
are pouring down
when I shout now!
and the birds
dive down into a flood
where the fish
with fresh bubbles
This poem, in both form and content, envisions a vertical descent, which begins in the firmament above. The movement starts above and pours downwards into the ocean until bubbles lead us up again in a poetic orbit. Some poems deal with or comment on pictures and some pictures are so-called calligrams, where a picture is made up of words in which the picture conveys or is related to the meaning of the words themselves. The artistic expressions thrive together. Tóroddur Poulsen explains:
Even though any idiot could get, for example, into parliament, not every idiot can write poetry, but you have to be an idiot to try to earn a living from it. I have been one now for many years. Over the last several years, I also have been working more in the visual arts. I have experimented with pictures and texts together. For me, the text itself has always been a picture. And the reverse. I also learned something during those years when I worked at Grótvirkið [the stonemason]. About form and material. To drill, blow up, saw, cut, carve and grind stones. To engrave names and the dates of birth and death into the gravestones. Yes. Gravestones are also poetry. Stones are also language..”
Stone has in fact been extremely important to the artist not only symbolically, but also in a very tangible way, if we but look, for example, at the great number of lithographic pictures and books he has produced. Tóroddur Poulsen has worked with all sorts of graphic techniques, but, first and foremost, it is his lithographic work he created at Steinprent that is most remarkable, working alongside Jan Andersen and Fríða Matras Brekku, who own and run the workshop near the old western harbour in Tórshavn. This workshop has had great importance for Tóroddur Poulsen, as has the artist for the workshop. In addition to being technically competent, a lithographer must also listen closely to and resonate with an artist to capture the artist’s vision and intent. This they do very well at Steinprent. In addition to the three book projects (Villvísi, Avbyrgingar and Fjalir), Tóroddur Poulsen designed and published with Steinprent, he also created some 300 lithographs in the workshop.
At the moment 3 graphic works by Tóroddur Poulsen can currently be viewed in the Faroese Art Museum which is focusing on the classic modernist painting http://art.fo/fo/
Other works by Tóroddur Poulsen can be seen in the book Out of Darkness. Tóroddur Poulsen: A contemporary avant-garde artist
If you come to the Faroe Islands, The workshop Steinprent certainly is a must. They have all of Tóroddur Poulsens great graphic works there. Steinprent is open to the public every day from 10 am to 17 pm. Sundays closed. Here you can see amazing works like Tingini:
An interest in silence and silence machines also reoccurs. In the print Tingini / Things (2010), a Dadaistic silence machine is featured in a colourful composition. Technically, the picture is simpler than it looks, as the five colours are all printed at the same time in a so-called iris lithography, where the colours flow and blend together during the printing process. Thus, we get some extra colours because of the mixing. The motif seems a bit messy; in the middle, there is a tall version of a silence machine on long legs, which is producing silence. The machine seems to be necessary, not the least in the Faroese Parliament, because: “Tingmenn larma illa / Members of Parliament make considerable noise” is written in the bottom right corner, and on the left side appears the text: “Harra formaður. Tað er hetta skrálið, sum er á skránni / Mr. Chairman, it is this howling that is on the agenda”. There is a characteristic play on words in the phrase, for it imitates a typical pronouncement in Parliament using “skrál / howl” instead of the typical “mál / issue”. It would appear that the artist had been listening to a direct broadcast from the Parliament while he has been working on the lithograph. He has recorded words like “Eykajáttan / supplementary grant”, but in places he is a bit sarcastic, even aphoristic: “Veðurlagsbroytingar avtaka høvdalagið / Climatic change abolishes the bedhead”. The words are written in different ways and in different sizes, so that some of them almost disappear while others are big and almost intimidating. On top of all the elements, there is one big word written diagonally in the picture: “TIGIÐ! / SILENCE!” in capital letters. It is interesting that this big word in the imperative is written laterally and reversed, as if it is a cry from someone inside of the print. All in all, these elements in fact make the picture rather complex. Even though at first blush the print appears to be a crude two-dimensional cartoon, the artist has actually created a mysterious, three-dimensional critical space that elicits questions rather than offering answers.
Bonus track from the DVD edition of "A Line a Day Must Be Enough!", a film by Katrin Ottarsdóttir. Blue Bird Film
when darkness suffocates
i escape into language
and breathe light
when light suffocates
i escape into darkness
and breathe language
when language suffocates
i escape into light
and breathe darkness
that´s how i see everything
and become the breath
the suffocator breathes
(translated by Randi Ward)
This site concerns art and culture in the Faroe Islands. Most of the texts are Faroese, a language, which unfortunately is not google-translateable... yet.