the material, the situation, the frame by Liv Dessen and Erika Stöckel
- Place Nordnorsk kunstnersenter, Svolvær
Energetic, black lines on paper. Bulging, organic forms in clay. In different ways these artists explore abstract form with a defiance at the core.
In this exhibition we are showing the works of an artist that has been productive through many decades, along with the works of a newly established artist, who only recently graduated from the Art Academy in Oslo. In the gallery you will encounter drawings by Liv Dessen (b. 1935, Løten, Norway), wall mounted, and ceramic sculptures by Erika Stöckel (b. 1989, Kiruna, Sweden) scattered around the room. One can sense a kinship there; the playfulness and the freedom, the vigorous and the raw, the expressive and the organic. Yet they use different methods in order to examine abstract form.
Erika Stöckel works are informed by ideas that she gets from the world surrounding her. In the works for this exhibition, she has been interested in the human body both thematically and as a physical presence; in the borders between the outer and inner body; and in the contrasts between the organic and soft body against hard surroundings. With the pliable clay, often combined with other, found objects, she examines the materiality of parts of the body which are normally hidden and considered gross, such as belly flab or orifices. Here, she balances between the beautiful and the grotesque, between the serious and the humorous.
Liv Dessen works more intuitively with her abstract drawings; she never plans how a piece will turn out in advance, apart from deciding upon a certain format, a certain type of drawing surface, and maybe some colours. Using felt tip, chalk or pastel she composes the picture surface in impressive ways. The finished picture becomes almost like a documentation of a working process. The result can be anything from airy and light compositions to the more dense and dark. Whether small or large, light or dark, the drawings are always marked by something fresh, fearless, present and energetic. Dessen distances herself from the outer world in her work. Yet, the body is still present in her drawings; they are filled with traces, living lines that are the results of bodily actions.
One way to look at humans’ way of being in the world is that we are our bodies. In other words, body and soul are not two separate things. We both think and act through our bodies. While being independent matter and a part of the surrounding world at the same time, the body acts as a frame of interpretation and a filter in order to understand the world. According to feminist and literary scholar Toril Moi’s philosophical views, the body is our situation in the world, and in other words the starting point for all our actions. Based on this, we can act freely, but the historical context we live in creates certain frames for what it is possible for us to do. For example, the contemporary view on sexuality and gender will influence how we understand ourselves, and furthermore how our body acts. Still, luckily we have the opportunity to rebel against society’s expectations, and in doing so contribute in changing our own room of action.
In Dessen’s and Stöckel’s work resides a common sensibility and playfulness. Yet the energetic, black lines of Dessen, and the swelling almost intrusive shapes of Stöckel testify to an underlying unrest – as if in a rebellion.