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Vatn og olía / Water and Oil



Galleri NordNorge, Harstad Norway.


Photo: ILC

The past takes part in contemporary art discourse

How do we relate to history? What can arise in dialogue between different artists across epochs and cultures, which challenges the understanding of our time and contributes with alternative perspectives? Who is privileged enough to have a voice? What does it mean to be seen in one's time versus posterity?

In 1972, art historian Linda Nochlin asked if there were more perspectives than the male, about "Why have there been no great women artists?" Have we moved on in the almost 50 years she has been asking these questions? What perspectives prevail today and set the agenda - who gets space and attention to create, and who is overlooked in today's society? In the essay "A Room of One's Own" from 1929, Virgina Woolf writes about the need for a room in an expanded sense: A physical, mental and social space where women could develop their personality, artistic abilities and financial independence, with for the opportunity to create art. The need for a separate room to create is in contrast to how Kaarbø has been hidden in a separate room and rejected in her posterity.

In this exhibition we get new perspectives in the meeting between our (relatively unknown) local avant-garde artist Ragnhild Kaarbø (1889 - 1949) and the internationally renowned artist group Icelandic Love Corporation (ILC).

ILC will for this year's festival exhibition seek inspiration in Ragnhild Kaarbø's life and artistic work. In Galleri Nord-Norge, Kaarbø's art has been locked inside a cramped little room, a closed door with her nameplate. The time has now come to give her the attention and space she deserves. For the festival exhibition, ILC has created new works based on Ragnhild Kaarbø's artistic heritage and how they see her.

Ragnhild Kaarbø was born (Harstad, 1889) into a family with great resources, her father was the businessman and politician Rikard Kaarbø, who is considered the founder of Harstad city. In Kristiania, she studied at the Statens Håndverks- og Kunstindustriskole, and received art education from both Harriet Backer and Henrik Sørensen. She was often in Harstad to work in the summer, and had a studio in the storage cage on the family farm. Kaarbø became part of the bohemian movement, where she was based in Paris for a period and exhibited with many leading modernists. In 1918 she made her debut at the Artists' Association in Kristiania, and she is best known for her strong portraits of women and landscapes. Kaarbø's nonfigurative works from the mid-1920s represent a radical change in relation to previous styles, and she was one of the first Cubist painters in Norway.

Jóní Jónsdóttir and Eirún Sigurðardóttir are the members of the art collective The icelandic Love Corporation (ILC) an art group established in 1996. ILC confronts the seriousness of the world with works that blend playfulness, humor and spectacle with refreshing genuineness and subtle social critique that often incorporates ideas of traditional femininity, with feministic approach. ILC´s interdisciplinary art led them to collaborate with Björk for her Volta album in 2007 and a wide range of other collaborations e.g. GusGus, Ensemble Adapter and Ragnar Kjartansson. They’re works have been exhibited internationally, e.g. at ARoS Kunstmuseum Denmark, Moma Museum of Modern Art New York, The Schirn Kunsthalle Germany, Kunsthalle Wien Vienna, Amos Anderson Art Museum Helsinki and Lilith Performance Studio Sweden.

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