Retouching- five videoworks installed.
Retouching refers to the process of enhancing photographs by manipulation one way or the other. Retouching could be done by hand, by elaborate dark-room methods or through digital means. Here I stretch the meaning of the title Retouching to also encompass the act of touching something again. My animations of photographs and video clips are in effect recycling and reusing images that already carry inherent meaning. Historical portrait photography is at the core of the two wall installations. The white torso of a Victorian royal woman dressed in a tightly corseted jeweled dress is made to breathe and move slightly. Animated details are playing into the static image. Her individual human body is retouched into an anonymous representation of female beauty, a staged expression of power. The title Empire refers to this historical power as well as forces that are still existing today.
Gaze: On the opposite wall a pair of eyes are moving slightly on a dark background, looking out in space through a camera. I imagine that they look back at us and reverts the situation of being looked at in a representative portrait. This is the gaze of the Norwegian political pioneer Fredrikke Marie Qvam, sourced from her studio portraits from the age of sixteen until she was around ninety years old. All signs of her status and the staged situation of the portrait photography are stripped off the images, even her age is not seen as more than a change in the skin around the eyes.
Work in the Darkroom: Halfway between these opposing projections is a brown cardboard cylinder standing on the floor. The round projection on top of it shows moving currents in water when contained in a round shape. This is a small clip from a video installation I developed with Nicola Schrøder around 1990. It is reused as a liquid circle, a hand dips into it and eventually disappears in the patterned darkness which is then replaced by water flowing through an oversized drain.
A projection on a low platform is titled Blomsterstykke 3 or Flower Piece 3. Two hands are building a sunflower, picking yellow petals from the greyscale grass, in a movement that is the opposite of the game of stripping petals off daisies to detect if he loves me – or loves me not. At the same time, this action can be seen as an attempt to repair nature, to try to fix the unfixable. This work is a variation of earlier projections with the same title. What differs between these Flower Pieces are the type of flower and the context in terms of the background on which the petals are placed. The title refers to the poem by Henrik Wergeland “Jan van Huysmans blomsterstykke”, where the poet through the experience and fantasy evoked by a flower painting reflects on the relationship between art and life.
Finally, diagonally across the room is the animation Work on the Light Table presented on a screen mounted on a light table. Here hands are engaged in a more complex endeavor. Drawings are made, shapes and images appears and disappears. Sometimes control is lost for a moment, something slips up, the pencil is lost. At other times the hands seem very powerful, even with abilities to ignite fire. Eventually the light goes out and everything disappears before the process can start again. Some of the elements in this animation are related to the other works in the room. This work can be said to carry a form of meta-narrative of the installation as a whole, but is also an independent reflection on artistic processes.