Q&A with Eline Mugaas

Eline Mugaas is currently exhibiting at Galleri Riis in Stockholm, with Another Room, and she has also just published ALBUM together with Eline Storsveen. KUNSTforum asked Mugaas some questions about her work and inspirations.

Eline Mugaas and Eline Storsveen, spread from ALBUM#3, 2009

Eline Mugaas and Elise Storsveen, spread from ALBUM#3, 2009

What is ALBUM and how did it come to be?
ALBUM is a fanzine made by Elise Storsveen and me. It is made up of borrowed images that we have collected over many years from books and magazines. We had played around with the images making gifts for friends. Then we discovered that the architect space downstairs from my studio had a copy machine and they let us use it for cost. It’s all about who you sleep with.

What was appealing with the fanzine format and how does it change the work to publish it in a book instead?
The great thing about the zine-format is that we could build the project, one issue at the time. Since we both have other projects that we work on individually, we were looking for something that had as many restrictions as possible. ALBUM is made with scissors, tape paper and a copy machine. It is structured around the restrictions. It´s format is A4. It is 10-11 pages folded – that is how many pages the stapler can handle. All the images has been printed and mass distributed. They come from a vernacular image culture. We try to shy away from images done by artists, although it is not an absolute rule. We also stay away from looking for images on the Internet, but only to limit the amount of pictures. Working with the actual cut-outs we have to work with the image in the size it was printed, no enlarging. The only way to make it smaller is to cut something away. Then only thing we actually do, is to force the images to revel a new narrative. It is an exercise in reading images, to recognise potential connections.

The book is a wonderful opportunity to reach a much larger audience. The fanzine is only printed in an edition of 200. Working with great publishers in Norway (Teknisk Industri AS) and in New York (Primary Information), the book will be distributed both in Europe and the US. We have ended up scanning all the material, so ironically, the book is much better quality that the original zine. We like that joke.

For ALBUM#11 we´ll be back to tape scissors and the xerox machine.

Eline Mugaas and Eline Storsveen, ALBUM, published by Primary Information (US) and Teknisk Industri AS (NO), 2014

Eline Mugaas and Elise Storsveen, ALBUM, published by Primary Information (US) and Teknisk Industri AS (NO), 2014

Can you tell us about your current exhibition?
The show currently at Galleri Riis Stockholm, is called Another Room and is a variation on the show I Make Another Room that was shown in Oslo earlier this year. I am interested in volumes and spaces, space carvings. Each image is a room, a space that inflicts and inform, that resonates. The gallery space in Stockholm is different from the one in Oslo, and I was exited to see the images in these new rooms. To see how a new setting changed them, and a new hanging opened up for different readings.

Eline Mugaas, installation view of Another Room, Galleri Riis, Stockholm, 2014

Eline Mugaas, installation view of Another Room, Galleri Riis, Stockholm, 2014

Can you describe your work process from idea to work?
We need all night if we were to sort through these questions. I don’t always know where an idea ends and the work starts. There are ideas everywhere. The more you work, the more ideas. Sometimes you have to keep them away with alcohol. There is just not enough time.

How has working with photography changed since you began working with the medium?
I have been working with photography since the late eighties. I learned to use a camera to shoot slides of my sculptures, but I was always a sloppy photographer, more interested in the mistakes, than how to do it right. Photography is an accident-prone medium. I like the insistence of the information that I didn’t mean to include. What has changed is that it is becoming more and more accident-prone. There are more technology now that try to save me from myself, and that’s an annoying fact. Photography has also become democratised.  There are photographs and photographers everywhere, which shifts the focus. It is not what you see, but how you see that is interesting.

What are your main influences when creating a work of art?
I love books. Books by artists, books about artists, books about architecture, poetry, fiction and theoretical texts. Ugly books, gorgeous books and all kinds of magazines, posters and postcards.

Eline Mugaas, Bananas, 2014

Eline Mugaas, Bananas, 2014

Can you name a writer or book, fiction or theory that has inspired your works?
Lately I am re-reading Eleen Myles The importance of being Iceland. Myles writes from a city I used to know, with spunk and fire and a knack for language that sings in my head. And there’s Jane Jacobs The Death and Life of Great American Cities, an important book for everybody living in Oslo and other cities with horny politicians driven by booster-mentality. I have been especially interested in the work by artist Moyra Davey, the poet of dust. An image-sceptic image maker. She also edited the great book The Mother Reader, texts on work and motherhood. That book took me out of a postpartum depression and I have been following her since.

Why is art important?
Art is trying to say something about how it is to be alive at this specific time and place. This is why art should not stagnate; we need to re-look at the same things over and over. And it is also why art 30 000 years old can touch us, even though we don’t necessarily know the context it was made in.

The release party of ALBUM will be at Galleri Riis, Stockholm, November 6th, from 6-8pm, and Eline Mugaas’ show Another Room will be on display at Galleri Riis in Stockholm until November 15th.

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