Photo from the opening show of the new National museum of art in Norway, Jeg kaller det kunst

(For the original text (Norwegian) and image gallery – click here)


In the following I will present some of the background as well as some of the thoughts I have made during the work with the installation Urdarbrønnen / Ragnarokk (Hear Me In Silence). However, I am a strong supporter of my fellow human beings feeling free in the encounter with an artwork and also to without guidelines understand, interpret or wonder about the experience.

At the same time I have on occasions felt a strong desire for a closer insight into the artist’s underlying thoughts, the inspiration that lies underneath, reflections of the process and choices that have been made. Or also choices that were not made, but still arose. A stumble that maybe sent the work in a new direction. In this way, both form, choice of materials and objects will carry their own narrative and intertwine with my story. Therefore, I hereby choose to share some of my thoughts for those who are curious in that regard, but I emphasise that the artwork of course can be read completely freely and independently of my thoughts.


“Hear me in silence.” This is how the epic poem “Voluspå” starts in what is called The Older Edda, which is part of our norse mythology. Volven (The Seeress) – a female figure with fortune telling abilities tells the tale of the genesis and the journey towards doom; Ragnarokk.

Central to the epic is the tree of life, namely Yggdrasil, an ash tree with three roots ending in each well. These wells represent Fate (Urdarbrønnen), Knowledge (Mimir’s well) and Chaos (Kvergjelme).

By the white waters of the Urdarbrønn, we find the three Norns Urd (Was), Verdande (Is) and Skuld (to become), and they spin the threads of destiny, for all Gods and all humans. (So neither gods or goddesses are immortal.)

The wise Mimir’s well is filled with the Mead Of Knowledge, and this is where Odin sacrifices one of his eyes in exchange for the brew which provides insight.

In the third well Kvergjelme lives the snake Nidhogg, which together with a pit of snakes nibble on the root of Yggdrasil. The day when the root has been eaten through, the tree of life will tremble and fall, and Ragnarokk breaks loose.

It is this place – this moment – that preoccupies my interest. Not the downfall itself, but the preliminary moment of the inevitable fate – the tipping point of the forewarned brutality that must be initiated to fulfil the predetermined end.

In the installation Urdarbrønnen / Ragnarokk (Her Me In Silence) I have chosen to give the well of destiny the frontal, confrontational and inviting position, with the Norns as the main characters in a storytelling that for millennia have deprived their voices.

Edda means grandmother or great-grandmother in Norse, and that cosmology in Voluspå opens up with an insisting call for us to listen. This is something we should face with attention and reverence, as the grandmother’s strong advice has subsequently been neglected. We can all take wisdom if we lend our time and don’t drown everything in the deafening noise we otherwise surround ourselves with.

Urd that represents a place we all have been – a time before we are and before we will be – to me reflects the life we have lived inside a mother’s womb, surrounded by amniotic fluid, a microcosmic ocean, before birth, the first breath and when gravity initially nails us to the ground.

Urd is the liquid element. Her redemption becomes our destiny. Her body has been like a protective layer of nacre (mother of pearl). She is the shell and the egg and the moon and the tide.

Verdande (the present) may be the one who nurtures us before secession. In Voluspå it is said that the Norns water the tree with white water, like breast milk nourish us in infancy. I see Verdande as nourishing and bearing, before we have gained a foothold, as Urd before she carried us in her body.

Verdande is also the key bearer, just as Urd is the hinges for an opening door in what we call the fetal cardinal movements on the way through the birth canal. The cotton lace on her body is crocheted by my great-grandmother. The gaiters are from my grandmother. The rug sack she carries belonged to my grandfather. This is how I also incorporated direct materials from my own ancestors, as in the sense of Edda. Great-grandmother, grandmother, origin.

Skuld is the future. She is spun up and back into her silk cocoon, and pushes us into the world, with our threads of unfinished paths. Deterministic shadows follow us as we slip out towards the eternal spin of destiny.

I am interested in what the materials tell me and where they lead the work which is often outside of the first intent. Not infrequently, one random object appears both materially and in sense of the story it keeps, or a text floating by, and unexpected sound, someone or something which supports my work, and yet disturbs and imparts with a different angle.

It is here perhaps that my lifelong fascination with destiny, chaos and order is anchored. As well as the wisdom the mythical carries within, nevertheless holds a kind of veil over the given message. Something I can unravel, but at the same time without demanding explanation. As the chaos in ourselves and in nature can have their own order that is founded just on that; to float with and not to subdue or be subdued, let the road be open and unpredictable. It still leads somewhere. And the question may be asked just where the answer is found. As we often claim and dogmatize, at the expense of curiosity, with responsiveness as a victim of the opposite.

The same goes for parts of the construction of Urdarbrønnen / Ragnarokk (Hear Me In Silence).

The Yggdrasil tree is made up of loom chairs that I accuired. The oldest ones are from the first spinning mills along Akerselva, which I found in a raw basement hall at Hausmania Kulturhus, stacked in undecipherable piles, waiting for decay, almost like firewood material for witch burning and history erasure. The materials came to me, as if they knew they were in demand. In support of my thought about the transition from manual to industrial. From hand to machine.

Because here I mean the prelude to Ragnarokk is found.

The rear side of the installation consists of a unification of the other two wells; knowledge and chaos. Knowledge without wisdom leads to chaos.

To me, this is most clearly represented through the Industrial Revolution, where the idea of learning based on experience evaporates, and the baseless and endless futuristic belief has thrown us out in the extreme here-and-now.

Reflection disappeared, while we never before had a greater degree of reflection surface, but as in throw-back surface and not necessarily in depth.

We overlooked Urd, fell in love with Skuld, but got stuck in Verdande.

I find it thought-provoking and maybe eye-opening that insight into the mythological description requires half-blindness, as in Odin’s eye sacrifice to Mimir.

That knowledge requires a one-eyedness. Mimir is indeed disembodied. He’s only a severed head. He has also been giving sacrifice.

The drinking cup for the well of knowledge is called Gjallarhorn, and is the same item that Heimdal uses as a blowing horn when Ragnarokk is alerted. So the cup of knowledge holds in it the body of the disembodied, which is also an instrument that heralds war.

Odin hung himself in the tree of life for nine days to gain insight into written language. A self sacrifice that results in “Runes I collected with a scream”, as in the newborn’s scream at the entrance of a new sphere. But he seized the runes himself, they were not bestowed upon him, as the metaphorical suicide let him fall to the ground and possess the knowledge of the written word.

In my interpretation, there is something “Gutenberg” about this as well. Again one mass distribution in the pre-industrial development where the victim and the patience we were previously required for the acquisition of knowledge is replaced with a public property that both possesses the dissemination of knowledge and a seed for flattening. One eye. One truth. A head.

Time has galloped. Before and since have been written off. Here and now is our ideology of consumption, and we stand here – together with Yggdrasil – right before, right in the overturn, in the trembling.

It is also thought-provoking that the Industrial Revolution at the forefront significant in our recent mythology and storytelling is the steam locomotive and the motorised rock and web, with goes by the name “Spinning Jenny”.

Here the ancient stories are woven – about spinning and weaving as related to fate – directly into the unfortunate state of our time when galloping lack of moderation and sustainability, prompted by an endless mass production which directly suffocates the earth and the tree of life.

At my Spinning Jenny there is also a wooden shoe.

It refers to the first strikes on the weaving mills where the workers threw their work-uniform clogs into the machines to stop them and promote their right to dignified working conditions.

Sabot is called the clogs in French. Hence the word sabotage. The world had been filled with machine noise that provoked the rightful audible voice.

Hear me in silence. I stop the motorised noise and the pace that outmanoeuvres me. I derail the machine.

One of the very first film screenings at the cinema was also showing a train derailment.

The second favourite child of the industrial revolution – the train – strangely foresaw its own metaphorical and direkt overthrow. Our own sabotage, our derailment. Our inability to listen.

Heimdall who guards the bridge Bivrost – the very rainbow that leads to Gods and Goddesses kingdom, where jotner will come crawling for war when Ragnarokk breaks loose – is chosen as a guard because he can listen. His hearing is so fine-tuned that he can hear the grass growing. A guard must be able to listen. So let’s try to hear in silence, in the midst of the deafening rumble.

I think it’s interesting that the oldest term for the cyborg – man in symbiosis with machine – comes with the invention of eye glasses. Again, it is vision that dictates. But not necessarily as in insight, but maybe more as in outsight. A voracious form of conquest of the surroundings’ apparent immediacy, and also our own repetitive staging of ourselves for the surroundings. These self-portraits I long thought were called “selfish”. Therefore, I have chosen to present the unified well of chaos and knowledge, during the uproar of the tree root in the back-edge of an apparently unchangeable destiny, with writing and vision; like glasses, telephones, typewriters and the like. These objects of communication and perception may well be representatives of a loud navel-gazing disguised as communication, and not the rhizome, not the deeply plowing silence of the rooted language. These objects try to both focus and three-dimensionalize a reality that they can potentially flatten. Odin’s eye sacrifice and self-reliance is present, and mass development also points directly to our own contemporary continuation of the industrial revolution to the technological revolution we live in the middle of, where networks without really rooted network is mantra. It is also referred to as weaving. World wide web. The textile metaphor repeats itself indefinitely. Arakne must watch the unraveling while Spiderman saves the world in the universe of fiction.

The world has been claimed wireless, so what do we spin with now then, without one thread?

Silicon Valley, where the textile itself is the machine and has ingested our bodies and brains to an equal degree? Where silicone lips, tits and foreheads and Facebook do the same job? Silly Con. We have in our stupidity willingly let us fool. Even dissemination is referred to as fake, whatever truth it may hold.

Everything is portrayed as stupidity and forgery, even in the wording of the new Gods’ headquarters, where they have also stolen the valley.

And inside it all, the squirrel Rattatosk runs as a communicator of news, gossip and slander up and down the tree of life. You are conned. Deception and visual deception. Fata Morgana.

We surf the internet. Like Beachboys. A net we glide seamlessly on the surface of. The deep dive is not talked about, other than in troll metaphors. The dark web. And they often stumble in their own shallowness, these trolls that must avoid sunlight, but doesn’t have high enough water level, so they have to crawl in the shallowness together with the crabs. And with selfish in their claws. And then they find their cracks, without actually cracking themselves (unaffected by the myths telling us that the sky will crack), since the future got so bright that you have to wear shades.

And the sun factor and the filters are on cheap sales, both for surfers and for trolls. The surface has become one potential flattening. The desire for knowledge has turned into war of knowledge. Gjallarhorn is indeed calling ear-deafeningly for the deaf ears. Yes, even the memory that i.a. Urd and Mimir represent are deprived of us via endless moments on assembly lines that repeat themselves in loop, without inspection required. The break is paradoxically put on hold. A new form of menopause, swapped out with memopause. Memory lane has become a repetitive second-based meme.

And the topography, where the map in our own face and on your body becomes erased by stories of furrows and earthquakes and new river courses and beautiful moss growth should be exchanged for an injection of lethal agents to retain the smoothness of ancient times. Our bodily time with traces of lived life has become an abomination.

Verdande wins again. The eternal present, without old age. Traces should not appear, furrowed weather-bitten over the land is swept under the rug. The only scars and interventions we accept is humanity’s upliftment and maltreatment of the earth’s crust and the seabed, where we ourselves will be shiny and smooth as washed rocks, in a time when plastic and plasticals in both real and figurative sense suffocates us. Where the globe gasps for air.

And as Volven tells us; in Ragnarokk, the Serpent Of Midgard comes cascading. He spews out ether – this scorching poisonous liquid, from worms and spiders (again, the one that spins) – which penetrates the air and covers the sea. And the jotne Surt throws out fire that consumes the earth so that the sun turns black.

It’s literally like reading the alarming state of our own time.

Accelerating pollution as in the serpent’s venom, burning of the rainforest; the lungs of the globe, a rapid pace of overproduction.

The stories of destiny may not be fixed, but meant as one warning. And now it rings in all alarm bells that Volven has described: Heimdall blows the Gjallarhorn. The dog Garm barks in Gnipaheller – portal of death. Three roosters crow, with gods, with jotner, in the realm of the dead, and warns conflict. The train is departing. Soon the chain breaks, and loose goes the wolf. We are the serpent. We are the wolf. We are the pledged eye. And we are the speed train. Someone has to pull the emergency brake.

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