Irene Nordli: “The Porcelain Room”
- Place Nordnorsk kunstnersenter, Svolvær
The exhibition sends us to a world that can seem both generous, beautiful and grotesque. Hinting at the history of porcelain, the installation simultaneously expresses feelings of alienation and pain.
Nordli’s ceramic shapes vary from bodily fragments and coarse, jar like containers to smooth, complete eggs. Both the process and the materials are visible in the clay and its glaze, which enhances the organic expression and breaks with the perfection of the tradition it refers to. The bodily elements and the abstracted shapes formally twist out into the room and become part with the surroundings. Combined with them are textiles, chairs, tables and other pieces of furniture and furnishing elements. Pieces of rococo furniture are included as a part of the installation and as such help to highlight the history of porcelain and its tradition in Europe during the 1700s. Nordli’s work resides on the borderline between utility objects and sculptures, and on the boundary between figuration and abstraction. It hints towards, but nonetheless evades, both the utility value and the beauty that was so important to the traditional porcelain.
The Porcelain Room as a title refers to a phenomenon that occurred among aristocrats in Europe in the period when porcelain made its mark as a commodity from Asia. In European palaces, separate rooms were made where abundant porcelain collections could be exhibited, and where the line between porcelain and furnishings was erased. Whereas the porcelain rooms of the 1700s by and large was about collecting mania and showcasing one’s affluence, Nordli’s porcelain room appears as an investigation of a mental room where lavishness appears to have grown out of proportion. We enter a kind of distorted porcelain room, behind the facade of the lavish furnishings of the 1700s, and where our present day artificial body ideals and need of control are put to the test.
Irene Nordli (b. 1967, Lørenskog) lives and works in Oslo and has her degree from Bergen Academy of Art and Design. She has had solo exhibitions at Galleri Format, Lillehammer Art Museum and Akershus Contemporary Art Centre, to name a few. She has also participated in numerous group shows in Norway and abroad. Nordli has done several large scale art projects for public spaces, and her work is in the collections of the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design in Oslo, the National Museum of Decorative Arts in Trondheim, KODE and Sørlandets Kunstmuseum. Since 2011, she has been employed as associate professor at the Arts and Crafts department of the Oslo Academy of the Arts.
The exhibition is supported by Arts Council Norway, and is an adapted and enlarged version of the one that was exhibited at Galleri Format in Oslo in the fall of 2016.