What Can Be Twisted and Seen from Many Angles - A text about Out of the Inside by Eli Maria Lundgaard
A constantly changing shape moves slowly through a white and brown room. In and around corners, there is the smell of soil. Along the ceiling and floor, the air between the teeth and the tongue tastes metallic and strange. There is a fog in front of everything in the room, and opening and shutting one’s eyes hardly helps to clear it. The constantly changing shape takes possession of a bed and balances, with tentative steps, out or into the room again on its four new legs. Bodies hanging from the ceiling cast shadows on and change the directions. In the room, I am upside-down, lie horizontally, then again vertically – I am drawn through and around, as if in a magnetic field.
In Eli Maria Lundgaard’s landscape, associations are our friends; they are like an extra support bandage around a sprained wrist. We enter into a visual language experienced as established and well-developed, but with many small cavities that we as viewers can interpret and sense. We can fill in the gaps between things that neither can nor want to be formulated. In a room filled with moving images and sculptures, we stand face-to-face with recognisable and tactile materials such as soil, trees, moist moss and clay that has been squeezed between determined yet careful fingers. All these materials have the possibility to change. We are free to create our own shapes in them.
The exhibition Out Of The Inside is a ‘total installation’ that viewers can enter as well as exit. Lundgaard’s universe consists of both poetic video works and small sculptures. Together, they comprise forms and containers for things existing inside ourselves. But something also leaks out. Take for example the work Uro (meaning ‘Unrest’ or perhaps ‘Mobile’), in which we encounter afterimages of moving bodies. It is as if something inside the bodies has begun to flow out of them. Lundgaard seems to be interested in things we can’t quite grasp, and she explores both tangible and intangible knots. In her attempt to unravel and separate threads, she willfully creates new knots. We as viewers are drawn into the painstaking work of trying to interpret our own constituent parts and the world around the remarkable building site which the body and mind can be.
In one of the exhibited video works, Magefølelsen (Gut Feeling), we see two hands and their shadows. From the shadows there arise abstract forms that seem like each their own language. An alphabet of white clay is presented in short clips, word after word appears, while we listen to the low and concentrated breathing of some unknown thing or being. Up to and underneath the white forms, it is as if the language we know leaks out, as the text in the video itself suggests from time to time. Above the images, there are stamped texts in an equally abstract form: ‘meanings move and flow from one place to another’, and ‘from the stomach, threads grow with knots and connections’. In the video we also see clips of a frog who seems to be trying to swim through the glass that holds him captive, and a snake articulating with its slippery tongue. Along with the meaning of their own form, both beings carry yet another connotation: the frog as transformation, the snake as immortality.
One can see oneself as both a frog and a snake in Lundgaard’s remarkable atmosphere. It is as if we undergo a transformation and then live on. In the text in Magefølelsen, the language works its way into the body, boring its way through muscles and tissues, cells and bacteria. We who enter into her universe from the outside are ourselves carriers of potential biological and personal stories. Our encounters with her living and dead matter can act as cracks out of which these stories can leak. In Leirelabyrint (Clay Labyrinth), the landscape is open and changeable, filled with holes and cracks. It seems to be ready for someone to enter from the outside and fill it with meaning. Perhaps it is in invitations such as these that we should allow ourselves to be intruders and to let our own experiences seep into the holes and cracks.
The changing shape has settled. It has become a solid material and no longer leaks at the edges and through the cracks. If one sees the shape from the right side, it reveals itself as itself. But from all the other angles, it tries to twist and distort its environment. The white and brown room has settled inside my body – like a clear and distinct image on the retina when closing my eyes. I move towards the edge of my own body and look at my hands, muscles, the long blood vessels and intestines that coil inside me. I almost sense the blood pumping out of my heart and into all the nooks and crannies. And when I go out of the exhibition room, all the thoughts about the body flow with the blood back to my heart. Like a movement running full circle, and a new shape that hardens.
Text: Karoline Sætre