In your recent book published by KMD there is a rather wide and varied presentation of your oeuvre, could you say something about the process behind the book and the selection of works included?
– The book started out with the focus of providing an overview of my painting practice since the early 2000s. The idea was to take Isabelle Graw’s concept of ‘vitalistic fantasies’, focusing on the individual gesture and how that connects the viewer to the maker of the artwork. As I began working on the book and having discussions with the various contributors, I quickly found out that it wasn’t productive to only focus on my paintings as they are produced simultaneously with my other works and although the individual gesture isn’t always so obvious in some of the installations or lens-based works there are important juxtapositions to be made between the different media. The intention is for the book to give a good overview of the complexity of my practice over the last two decades, both in terms of concepts and processes.
Being both an artist and an academic, taking part in two worlds so to say, do you feel that the roles inform and complement each other? Or do they come at the expense of each other?
– The roles of being an artist and an academic complement one another. The only thing that is in short supply is time, and it can be challenging to find time to make new artwork or research new projects. I am very disciplined about making my artwork as it is such an important part of who I am. As there is not enough time during the day or term time I make my artwork in the evenings, weekends, and summer holidays. Luckily my family are very supportive and used to me making artwork at home, quite often at the kitchen table, or in the train and car when we are travelling in the summer.
The process of teaching is very inspiring, and I love engaging with the students’ practices and trying to help them reflect, develop, and challenge. I have been teaching for 26 years and this has always been in parallel with working as an artist. The two complement one another as I can help young artists develop their art practice based on my own experience of working in the art world. It is a huge advantage to be a practicing artist as I am automatically keeping up to date with what is going on in the artworld both conceptually and professionally.
In terms of artistic and academic research, I am involved in a lot of UiB research projects and groups, and these take up a lot of my time and require a lot of administration. They also stimulate and inform my artistic practice and allow me to engage with topics and individuals that introduce me to new ways of thinking. I am Co-Principal Investigator on the NFR funded project Climate Narratives, and we are launching a new art and science hub in Greenland in the autumn, and I co-curated a major exhibition of art from Fiji and Greenland at KODE earlier this year. Another UiB project which has been very rewarding to be involved in is the Calendars project and have just written an essay on how my artwork relates to seasonality for a new book which will be published by De Gruyter this autumn, one of my paintings is being used for the front cover. I am currently working on another text for a special issue on seasonality of the Journal ‘Time and Society’ and I will be taking part in a group exhibition and seminar at the University Arboretum in September. I am also a participant in the Centre for Digital Narratives, a new centre of excellence at UiB and will be co-curating an exhibition about Artificial intelligence with Professor Scott Rettberg and Jill Miller (Professor at UC Berkeley) at the Worth Ryder Gallery in California. The NARP project Matter, Gesture, Soul, has also been a very inspiring project to participate in and we will be having a final workshop and seminar in the autumn. All of these projects influence, challenge and stimulate my artwork in many ways and also allow me to connect directly with societal challenges.