I live and work in Oslo, Norway.
I should say something about my work. Something about the deliberate inclusion of biographical elements, anecdotes, trivialities and contradictions. A proper treatment would undoubtedly require a lifetime, but I could start with a non-systematic assemblage of analysis, speculations, concepts and narratives reflecting the intertwinement of everyday experiences and creative activity. A bunch of heterogeneous fragments paying tribute to the continuous disruption of life and artistic practice into each other, and the subsequent disintegration of monolithic representations.
As I start to write, I am rather sleepy, cold and discomfortable. I just got out of the room where I fell asleep while putting my daughter to bed. I usually lay next to her, releasing the tension in my back and giving my nervous system a break from all the visual and auditory stimuli of the day. I lay in the dark, and listen to her breath becoming slower and more regular. I often take this time to reflect on something important. Tonight I went through some possible ideas for this text. Even though I fell asleep, some of them are still in my mind.
It has been said that there is no truth, no objective certainty. Nonetheless, or rather because of it, I must remember to trust my feelings, to give credit to my impressions, ideas, intuitions and desires. I must remember to take myself seriously.
My upbringing didn’t contemplate self-esteem or pride, unless motivated by expected outcomes achieved through predetermined efforts. Mainly, these efforts were supposed to be directed toward the improvement of my performances at school and, on a longer perspective, securing for an humble but respectable life. Perhaps, whether necessary, through a life of sacrifices. Like Jesus Christ, yet not quite like him. Developing one’s individual personality was considered vain, yet tolerated. Cultivating one’s inclinations was valued as a hobby at best.
Please don’t misunderstand me. My parents are kind and generous people, and I love them. I feel grateful because, as a kid, I had the opportunity to engage with them in passionate discussions around the dinner table, hence developing my own opinions.
Recurrent discussions used to gravitate around theological issues related to the Catholic faith, including its cosmology, rituals and precepts. I definitely had an issue with the unconditional respect for the authority - whether it be god, the bible, the clergy or the tradition - especially when its legitimation was not based on individual merits, or when I believed the exercise of its power had rather harmful implications.
Yes, the fact that I was quite opinionated was perhaps part of the problem, considering my limited experience, knowledge and my young age at that time. Still I couldn’t and cannot help it, but thinking I was right. In Ancient Greek philosophy, an opinion (doxa) was by definition a belief that didn’t correspond with truth. Nowadays, on the contrary, my opinion could be considered as valid as others, especially if we admit the postulate that there isn’t any absolute and universal truth. Yet, I am in principle open to changing opinions, although it usually happens only through analysis and the pursuit of an increased understanding of the subject matter. For it seems to me it is still preferable to fool oneself than being fooled by someone else, to follow one own’s foolishness rather than to settle for a ready-made one. I can thus formulate the following contradiction: even though I have always valued rational thinking, I find it hard to recognise my opinions as mere subjective views. They sound so reasonable!
Within art, I lean towards conceptual or narrative expressions rather than subjective expressionism, meta-language rather than immersive illusionism, the banality of the everyday rather than the exceptional, heroic figure of the artist. Something like ‘I will not expose my inner being as an expression of individual exceptionality” was my principle when I started working with art. Slowly but surely I realised I was reducing a multiplicity of possible practices to a straightforward dichotomy, and I started to loosen that self-imposed orthodoxy. Today, while keeping a critical attitude toward any form of cult of the personality, I regularly use biographical elements in my work, actively committed in the construction of my own narrative that otherwise would be left at the sole mercy of future historians.
I often use everyday trivialities to counterbalance the risk of falling back into the much adversed grand mythology of the genius artist, with its heroic narrative. Acknowledging the presence of the artist, sobbing, gasping or taking pleasure, is a way to reveal the narrator’s role and agency, braking the incredulity suspension, and exposing the artfulness of the art. The ultimate goal is to keep those who experience my work as awake and present to themselves as possible.
A while ago I received the following remark: using anecdotes makes your work anecdotical. But what is an anecdote? What is a story? What is a fact? What is important? I see anecdotes as selected fragments, linguistic transpositions of events into new contexts, poetic interruptions into larger assemblages of elements and practices.
I tend to get bored when working with the same subject and technique. And consistency is definitely not my strongest quality. I still didn’t figure out if I should get a grip, choosing a topic, a method or a specific domain to explore in depth, or rather embrace the fact that I am a non-specialised artist, committed to anti-professionalism and to the programmatic refusal of mastership.
Reminder: Work is tremendously important. Life is tremendously dramatic. Two good reasons to let your sense of humour dwell into them.
(On biographical elements, anecdotes, trivialities and contradictions, 2019)