Can I, as an artist and film maker, do anything to improve situations in society that I find disturbing?
– Charlotte Thiis-Evensen
Something Has To Be Done presents new and earlier works by the Norwegian artist and journalist Charlotte Thiis-Evensen. This exhibition is her most comprehensive to date and spotlights an artistic practice with a radically humanistic perspective. Themes linked to power, freedom, and the value of human life are central to Thiis-Evensen’s work.
Thiis-Evensen conceives most of the ideas for her works when her attention is caught by situations in her immediate surroundings. These situations may have their starting points within her own family, the contexts she moves within, or wider societal structures. Using art as a means of processing the dilemmas that capture her interest, she creates short films, video works, photographs, and installations.
Her breakthrough as an artist came in 2002 with her project Dominance. Having recently completed her formal art education, Thiis-Evensen was combining her artistic career with a job as a cultural journalist at Norwegian public broadcaster NRK. This ‘double life’ became the theme of Dominance, in which she gave seven artists the power to determine how to portray the cultural journalist. The current exhibition provides us with the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with this work. In several of Thiis-Evensen’s more recent works, created from 2010 onwards, she has engaged herself actively in dilemmas relating to the idea of work as a criterion for a fulfilling life. She has created works that are about social dumping (The Inspectors, 2010), our perceptions of beggars (Line 5, 2016), youth unemployment (The Gold Watch, 2019), and the integration of migrants into working life in Norway (Solo, 2018).
Two new works
The One-Man Business
For her exhibition at Galleri F 15, Thiis-Evensen has created a new project about work. This time, her focus has been directed on Moss. In the collection of Moss Town and Industry Museum, a locally-produced item of kitchen equipment captured her interest. A potato peeler! In her new short film, The One-Man Business, she shows the proprietor producing this mundane object. Aside from the short film, The One-Man Business consists of an installation of three machines and an audio work. In this exhibition, the machines are displayed together with the audio work. Our sense of hearing allows us to detect the presence of mechanical production, and we can also view the machines in isolation, away from their original context. The film is being shown during the exhibition as part of a short-film programme. It is also being shown at Moss Town and Industry Museum. In this way, Thiis-Evensen facilitates an alliance between her project and the town’s history of industrial employment. The geographical distance also echoes the tension between film as art and film as documentary. Thiis-Evensen is an artist, but also works as a television journalist.
Another new work in this exhibition is the video installation Adrift. Here Thiis-Evensen addresses the prevailing sense of existential unease that many of us are experiencing. Together with a diverse group of young people, she has worked with breath and water to create a work that is open to various interpretations. It may evoke associations with climate change, problems linked to migration, or to changes that occur as a person transitions from youth to maturity. Like The One-Man Business, Adrift is also being displayed in two separate venues: in addition to this exhibition, the public will also be able to view a photomontage of stills from the film, which has been installed on hoardings in Moss, in an area of the town where a new railway line is being constructed in anticipation of future needs. The installation on the hoardings will continue until 1 November 2020.
In addition to these two new works, the exhibition brings together key works from throughout Thiis-Evensen’s career. On the ground floor, the concept of work recurs as a theme in various guises. The Gold Watch (2019) and Line 5 (2016) present a theme that is continued with The One-Man Business (2020). The works on the upper floor address themes of identity, freedom and the generally prevalent sense of unease. The two main works are Untitled (2013) and Adrift (2020). Untitled (2013) shows young Norwegian girls from Somali backgrounds, who are putting on and taking off their hijabs. In the slow-motion film it becomes impossible to tell whether the girls are putting on the veils, or taking them off, and the viewer becomes aware of the girls’ ambivalence. In Children Falling (2014), Thiis-Evensen considers children and adolescents during the period when their identities are forming. The issue of personal freedom is central to this work, as is the choice that one can make to do good or evil. The installation My Father Tried To Call My Mother (2008) addresses the state of powerlessness that one may experience when encountering illness and ageing.
In addition to these works, we present a programme of selected short films. The short film Façade can be viewed on the lawn outside Galleri F 15. This setting places the film, which plays with the concept of a façade, in an intriguing juxtaposition with the splendid façade of the gallery.
The works in this exhibition have been created with support from the Bergesen Foundation, the Norwegian Visual Arts Fund (BKV), the Audio and Visual Fund, the Fritt Ord Foundation, Arts Council Norway, NRK, the City of Oslo, REV Ocean and Moss Town and Industry Museum
Curator: Maria C. Havstam
Exhibition architect: Vilhelm Christensen
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