Marianne Heier and Kunstgress

16. Jun 2017 - 29. Oct 2017

The work ‘O’ is created by Marianne Heier (b. 1969) in partnership with the dance collective Kunstgress. The work is produced in relation to Kitty Kielland’s artistic practice and was commissioned by Stavanger Art Museum. It was presented as a performance at the opening of the exhibition Open Air – Kitty L. Kielland and will be repeated during the exhibition period. 

‘O’ deals with the theme of independence and the dissolution of fixed gender norms. Its starting point is Kitty Kielland’s basic ideas about gender. Heier has been interested in how these ideas come to expression in Kielland’s depictions of Jæren, particularly in the peat bog paintings that show a horizontal undulating landscape. The landscape and the depiction of it – are they gender-neutral? Or can they be linked to male or female qualities? 

In Heier’s work, the furs on the floor resemble a landscape, or a kind of large coherent organism. These are animal skins transformed into clothing for people. They hold connotations to animal protection and environmental issues but are also expressions for feminine glamour and sexuality. The soft furs create a visual contrast to the hard and white stone flooring. Heier allows hierarchies of value and myths about nature to form a backdrop for the work. She views ‘the feminine’ from the inside, as a physical, first-hand experience that forms the self, and not as an object described from the outside or as a deviation from a male norm. Who defines, and who is defined? What is nature, and what is culture? 

The performance plays out in the physical and direct encounter between the dancers’ bodies and the furs, all of which have been purchased from second-hand shops. In this way, the work dialogues with the soft-brown bog landscape and carries the feministic lines of Kielland’s paintings into our own times.