The guilt of all endings

Last Sunday, Tiril Hasselknippe opened the solo exhibion Swim Good at Landings Project Space. KUNSTforum asked her some questions about her work and inspiration.


Tiril Hasselknippe, Swim Good, 2013. Photo: Vegard Kleven

Can tell us about your current exhibition?  

I’m moving onto surf boards this fall, making a series of around 20 surf board sculptures in the span of two months. This show at Landings will present a «5 in 1 sculpture», and there will be a video projection and some steel elements.

The surf board represents the height of the wave, the hubris, and its consecutive crash. It’s connected to the two previous themes of cars and crashing waves and the ocean, about having a Moby Dick moment or a longing for Moby Dick; to be swallowed whole and to disappear willingly, a death and an afterlife. It is the ecstasy of mania and the guilt of all endings.

California was a muse for this project too, as it was also for the car project before that. Geographical muses are interesting. It’s like a site specific fan fiction.

Your work consists of sculptures and installations, in several different materials, even photographs of similar objects, still they all seem to be related in a way, with folds, lines and a somewhat explicit structure, at least at first glance. What is the connection between them, if there is a connection?

I’m looking for signifiers, specifics that can harbor an expansion. Often an interest is based on the history of the object, its place in language or my own personal relationship with it. But that’s really just the anchor point. From there it moves into the imaginary, the fictitious and the object becomes a vessel of sorts. Props treated as relics.

Tiril Hasselknippe, Swim Good, 2013. Photo: Vegard Kleven.

Tiril Hasselknippe, Swim Good, 2013. Photo: Vegard Kleven.

This expansion is what gets me going and in the end it can be hard to distill. I also have a very personal relationship to the works as well and their meaning, and sometimes it’s hard to know when to talk about it or when to let the viewer have their own personal experience.

The subjects within the works are always closely related and one show is often sequential to the next.

What is your next project?

I will be doing a duo show with Anne Guro Larsmon at IAC in Malmø, Sweden, which I’m excited about. I will also be a part of a group show at Lund Konsthall in November, and participate in presentation by the Edstrandska Foundation in Sweden in October, from which I got a grant from this year. Then in late November I will have a project shown in New York at Kari Rittenbach’s studio apartment. After that, I’m going to California for a month in January to chill out.

How would you describe your work process from idea to work?

It’s hard to say what comes first, but the work is processed through thinking, writing, drawing, traveling and perhaps most importantly, by the doing and the making. I like the specificity in sculpture; it really lends itself well to working out abstract ideas and notions. What feels important becomes important quite quickly.

What are your main influences when creating a work of art?

One thing would be architecture, for its theories on being in space and its visual output. All of my work start with a drawing and the drawing is very inspired from this weird method I saw the architecture students at Cooper Union do, where it’s just a bunch of lines everywhere and the whole thing looks very unclear. But if you know the method it’s apparently the most precise description of a building or a space, and what’s in it. In any case, the drawing then becomes the truth and which makes the translation into 3D is very interesting.

Tiril Hasselknippe, Swim Good, 2013. Photo: Vegard Kleven

Tiril Hasselknippe, Swim Good, 2013. Photo: Vegard Kleven

Furthermore, the narrative of film set design. I want my shows to be like a walk in a painting, like a film set where your body is a dolly and you eye is the lens. You are in it and get to move around and see it from all the angles. I like the thought of being in it, not looking at it. I want all the angles to work, to be a composition. It doesn’t always but the idea is pretty thrilling.

I also love the physicality of rap, the way words become gestures, and it reminds me a lot of sculpture. They have the same way of intertwining with space, there’s an aggression in its existence. The beat in hip hop is very sculptural. There is something wonderful of something being in the way, relentlessly. I’ve been listening to Sasha Go Hard and Katie Got Bandz a lot in the studio lately.

Can you name an artist or artwork or exhibition that has inspired you?

John Divola’s series on Zuma Beach is crazy good. The photos of his painterly gestures on lifeguard houses with sunsets in the background and how they are pointing to the changing nature of infrastructure in California; houses never built for history and history seemingly never going too far back in time, where the film set is closer to reality than unreality, with production and destruction intertwined. The pull between the eternity of the ocean and the vacuum of the desert keeps the energy in a specific mode where color is fugitive and structures which rest for too long die. Never presented as an installation the process forever remains within the photographs.

West Coast/Los Angeles sculpture tradition is really exciting too, for instance DeWain Valentine. His slab sculptures made me to go into working with poly-resin this fall.

In 2010 I saw the retrospective on Paul Thek at the Whitney Museum and that was a game changer. His body of work was very touching.

I have the most brilliantly talented friends, though, and I’m constantly inspired by them. I see knock-out shows all the time. I’m really lucky.

Tiril Hasselknippe, Swim Good, 2013. Photo: Vegard Kleven

Tiril Hasselknippe, Swim Good, 2013. Photo: Vegard Kleven

Can you name a writer or book, fiction or theory that has inspired your works?

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood hit me hard when it came out in 2003. I read it on the Greek island of Zakynthos while on what was supposed to be a romantic vacation. It really made an impact. A lot of short stories published in the Amazing Stories Magazine are really good as well, like The Revolt of the Pedestrian by David H. Keller published in 1928, about the evolutionary intersection of humans and cars. Many of those pulp stories are real gems. And Solaris by Stanislav Lem and Crash by J.G. Ballard are classics for a reason. They always read as fresh. There are a lot. But on an everyday basis I listen to the lyrics of artists like Drake and Frank Ocean. I spend a lot of time on Youtube and although it’s not a book, fiction or theory, it’s definitely its own entity of knowledge and output.

Why is art important?

Expressions through culture like art, music, dance, literature, movies, philosophy, sports etc. is the best of what human beings are bringing to the table. Other than that we aren’t really that impressive. Mostly we’re just populating the world.

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