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Johanne Teigen

Johanne Teigen

Can. Not. Get. Enough. of Johanne Teigen's brilliant sculptural image installations. Using large, distorted images with brilliant hues, she installs oversized prints and rolls like tapestries, or crumples and folds them around other objects, further abstracting and simultaneously revealing the colors and patterns in them. I love how she uses distorted images of places, which begin to lose their meaning in the process of making them unrecognizable as specific locations, but become places unto themselves again in the moment that they are installed. I'm thrilled to chat with her about her process, and she shares some great advice!

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Hello Johanne! Fist, can you tell me about yourself? I know you're from Norway and you earned a BA from Camberwell College in London in 2012. Where are you currently based?

I am Johanne Teigen, a 30 year old woman from a small town called Husnes. I moved to Bergen when I was 18 to finish my art course in high school. My tutor at that time said I should continue towards fine art, and so I did. After three years in London I moved back to Norway and I am now based in Oslo. 

What first interested you in making art, or pursuing it seriously?

I knew from an early age that I would do something creative. Making art just became a drive after my last year in high school, where I could not see myself do anything else. I was suddenly surrounded by like-minded people and it just came naturally into my everyday life.   

Do you have any significant influences, or teachers/mentors who have helped to shape the direction of your work?

I have many! It started with the photographer Gregory Crewdson who was a massive influence in my first years in Camberwell, with his emphasis on decay and mysterious photographs. Paul Schneider, who was one of our guest artists at Camberwell, had a look at my work and recommended that I read Crash by J.G. Ballard and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami. Pipilotti Rist, with her hallucinated videos, and the colourful work of Katarina Grosse. Last and most recent is the country Senegal with its colourful and rustic surroundings. 

I love the large sheets of photo paper and PVC, especially the way you suspend them in spaces and they become installation-like. Can you tell me a bit about your work? What is your process like? How do you begin working on a new piece?

It all starts with an image of a non-place where the only value is found in the relationship between me, the space, and the exact moment of time in which the image is captured with my mobile phone. The place ceases to have value when the moment has passed, so the value is transferred to the image, the digital memory of the event. This is then destroyed.

It is destroyed through digital distortion, a covering of tracks involving over-saturation of colours, and breaking the image down into meaningless constituent parts. The resultant image echoes advertising where colour is used to stimulate our pleasure-centres, a mimicry which is emphasized by the print materials used. The resulting work has no relationship to the initial event beyond the seduction of the viewer, the pleasure, sensation, and vacuous beauty. This is then destroyed.

The work is broken down. Folded, crumpled, fractured, cut. The viewer is teased with a glimpse of colour,  a suggestion of form and texture but never given enough to make a connection.

What is your studio like? Do you have any routines or rituals there? (feel free to send an image!) 

Unfortunately I do not have a studio. I have a large bedroom, a spare space I use for trying out new ideas and storage. I always edit my images and when I've got my prints delivered I roll them out. Recently I have made large scale prints in various sizes up to 6 meters long formy recent exhibitions. There has not been any possibility to try out any ideas before I'm in the gallery, which I don't mind, because I work intuitively and site-specifically.

What is your favorite thing about your medium?

The shaping part is my favorite, how the medium is not giving me all the possibilities I thought I would have with it. It then becomes all new again, and gives me a strong pleasure.  

Is there a lesson you've learned over the course of your studies -- formally or informally --  that you really value?

Use your college for all it is worth. Do ceramics, do printmaking, use the wood shop, do a collaboration with a student from another course. Ask your co-students for help when you are stuck in a project. Talk about your process out loud. This is a time when you have many great opportunities that should be used. When you finish school, you will be on your own. 

STOP! There are so many times I have overdone a piece, and where there is no way to undo that, by not destroying what you had just before you did the last gesture. Telling myself that I am pleased with the outcome of it even though I have time to try out other things is very important to me. 

What is the most challenging thing about pursuing art, whether it's a creative challenge or a professional one? 

To be seen and to get possibilities to show your work in galleries. To always promote yourself in this world full of social media. To not want to give up even though you get 50 not accepted emails back after applying for exhibitions, grants, residencies etc. You also have everyday life responsibilities. 

This all adds up to have time and energy to create new work and keep looking forward. 

Is there a moment of accomplishment or success that sticks out in your mind?

When viewers want to touch my work. I mean that that makes them want to know more about what it is.  

Do you have any upcoming exhibitions or projects you're currently working on?

I have had a really busy autumn full of exhibitions. So right now I am in a period I just want have it all in a distance and enjoy what I have accomplished so far. Hoping that it will continue next year. 

Please find more at johanneteigen.com!

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Matthew Fasone

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