The core of my artistic research is the conceptual language of hide and skin as artistic materials. I live and work in Todalen, a small valley in the mountain area of Trollheimen, Norway, and the materials I´m using are provided to me by the local hunters. I work with a wide range of expressions, making sculptures of many different qualities of hide, skin and leather. All the materials I use are prepared with traditional techniques.
The visual language of skin belongs to the human body. The material is body, and at the same time estranged. In my artistic practice, I´m aiming at shading and expanding our knowledge of skin, hide and leather as conceptual materials, and how these materials are relevant to a contemporary art scene.
Skin as a material also represents animals; it’s both recognisable and alien to us as humans. It’s an object for our first myths and separate from us precisely due to our ability to think symbolically and observe ourselves in historical time. The image of a beast creates an abyss, and we as spectators stand on the other side. We see what we already know and can only sense and long for: belonging. Something experienced as original, the unclothed human in nature. Skin as a material runs through all of human history and will remain so even in the post-Anthropocene era. The material is like a warning of need and necessity. Knowledge of survival.
Skin as a conceptual material is an underdeveloped language, not only in cultural history but also in contemporary art. The material has a strong relation to handicraft both in terms of treatment and forming. In many contexts, it’s referred to as ‘leather craft’, a term only partly describing the material’s potential aesthetic, artistic and visual expression. Its potential is much more nuanced.
I stand at the bedroom window and look out. It’s cold, but I’m not cold. I see that the snow has fallen like a protective blanket between the ground and the night. It turns the moonlight blue. Like a crystallisation of the forest’s darkness, I see thirteen shadows standing with bowed necks. I hear the silence and the sound of noses digging for dry grass and mouths pulling it loose and chewing.
Together, we are fourteen. Do they know who I am?
We breathe in the same air. We are this place.