Sunday, September 02, 2007

Art Space Talk: Mie Olise Kjaergaard

Mie Olise Kjaergaard is one of four artists who will be featured in Saatchi's 4 New Sensations exhibit-- a Channel 4 Prize for STUART 2007 graduates. The four were chosen from a selection of twenty finalists.
Mie's art is inspired by abandoned places and desolate spaces. She captures the essence of these spaces primarily through painting, but she also constructs models of wood and cardboard. Mie is trained as an architect and is interested in constructions, perspectives, and scales of places that have been left behind by human beings.
In her work she asks, "What happened here? Did I leave it myself? Who left it? Why?" Mie attempts to find pieces of the answers by utilizing architectural constructions, perspectives and putting together different scales in order to tell stories that psychologically investigate the desolation and memories left by the presence of these forgotten spaces-- the ghosts of industrialization.
(A section of Mie's studio.)

Brian Sherwin: Mie, you have studied at the Byam Shaw School of Art and at London University of the Arts. Who were your mentors?

Mie Olise Kjaergaard: My mentors are: the writer Chris-Kul Want, artists Clive Hogson, Douglas Alsop, plus my fellow students. I am finishing next month.
BS: Mie, can you recall any early events that directed you toward being an artist?

MOK: As a child I built shoebox-cities and made Christmas calendars for my school mates. I saw every problem as an opportunity. I fixed things, especially bikes. I painted my first big canvas when I was 15. At that time I started looking at art, and sat in the art section, of the libary looking through the same 5 books again, and again.

BS: Mie, you have been chosen to be one of four finalists in Saatchi's 4 New Sensations competition. You will be exhibiting alongside- Marcus Lanyon, Mark Melvin, and Sarah Maple. How did you feel when you were informed that you had been chosen? Also, how does it feel to know that your work will be on view during the Frieze fair? Are you nervous?

MOK: I am excited. And of course happy that they chose me. I am looking forward to show my work. I am working on the project right now, and it´s a new approach as it´s more fantasy, subject wise; "What will happen in 25 years"! That´s fun.
BS: Mie, you work with abandoned places and desolate spaces... you use them as references for your paintings, but you also build models of these structures out of wood and cardboard. Why are you so interested in these structures? Do they have a spiritual meaning for you? Or do you see them as a sign of 'our times', so to speak?

MOK: I just like structures like that. Huge man-made things falling apart. It obviously tells a story at many levels. It´s a machine, something built for a purpose, and yet the purpose didn´t last, and the structure stands there, as a visual witness of an idea that fell to the ground. I can be terribly romantic and brutal.

There are references to the actual places, but as my working process starts, it becomes something else. A metaphor, a visual interpretation, and the labyrinth of painting is entered. That means a lot of questions, problems, and discussion, not so much about the abandoned place, but about the painting. Which colours I want to use, which ones I can´t use, I set up small rules for myself, as a way of choosing a different approach, and developing my practice.

The same things happen with the structures. The structures are never built on somewhere I have seen. I relate to the space I am building it in. And from there, I try to create a flow through the space, and especially concentrate on the body's experience around the construction, on a psychological level.

I am on my way to Istanbul tonight, to build a structure with sound and moving images in it. I got a girl, Sona, to find me an abandoned place and describe it in words... she says it has pyramids on the roof. In that way the structure becomes a place of mind-- somewhere in between Sona´s actual discoveries and my interpretations of her descriptions. When I have built my model, I will be visiting the site, and probably get very surprised.
BS: Mie, upon entering an abandoned building.... for example, an old warehouse- how do you feel? What thoughts cross your mind?

MOK: I think I'm very sensitive towards space, and construction. It fascinates me to get near desolate huge structures. It´s like, it has taken over, as man left. It´s funny, living in big cities, where people might be carrying knives and shot guns-- that I can be scared of nature! In a way these structures are becoming nature again. But I am also very interested in the architecture of these machines. It is very fantastic, yet every little detail has a specific function for the structure. I guess I analyze the buildings, and then I build on top of them or break them down.

BS: Mie, I've read that you have an idea for a future project. You call it 'Future of Place'. You have stated that your goal is to find a building that has been built this year and observe the building for 25 years- in order to capture how it expands or falls into obscurity. Tell me more about this project. What exactly are your goals?Have you found a building yet?

MOK: That is the project that I am working on for the 4NS, during Frieze. I have found the site (it´s in Bloomsbury, London) and have built a little model of it. Right now I am asking a lot: what if ... and what if...? It´s gonna become five paintings.

Apart from that, I don´t really have goals. I guess that's the thing about painting. That you simply don´t know it before you have gone through the labyrinth. It appears while you walk, and along the path you have to solve a lot of problems--ask a lot of questions.

For this project my ideas are more radical, I am working with contrasts; rather than obvious perspectives like decay or refurbishments.
BS: Mie, what other plans or project ideas do you have at this time? Also, do you plan to collaborate with anyone in the near future? Or do you work alone?

MOK: The Istanbul Project is a collaboration called The Triangle Project. It is a collaboration between New York, Istanbul and Copenhagen artist. It runs for 3 years, and will be happening in New York starting in the spring of 2008. Danish composer Goodipal has made the sound for my project. I just met him this morning and played around with a lot of items that will be put in top of the loudspeakers-- to distort the sound.

I also have an artist group in Cph, +LABORATORIUM/FMstereo, we were running a shop and exhibition space for five years, and still do "city investigation projects" together. I am curating a show in London with a friend in the spring. So I like to collaborate on different levels, according to the projects.
BS: Mie, I understand that you draw inspiration from several sources-- including psychology. Can you go into further detail about how the study of psychology has influenced your art? Do you enjoy the work of Jung? Would you say that your art is a psychological study... a way of 'charting' yourself or society, so to speak?

MOK: Especially in my installations (constructions with video in it), it becomes very essential of how people move around them. If they crawl, peep through a hole, go close to something, feel something rough and huge, soft or close. It all makes you react on a psychological level. And that´s a sort of communication. I am interested in Freud and Jung, and in perception theories in general. I make studies in models, and investigate. I set up my own laboratory experiments, rather than read books. I see my works as an exploration of my ideas, it´s clearly pseudo scientific; and subjective! Objective Art is Science!
BS: Mie, I understand that you have been looking into the work of photographer William Christenburry, whose images from Alabama have a touch of decay. You have stated that the 'abandoned and uncanniness' that he conveys with his work is close to what you want to express in your work- you went on to say that some of his work "scares the hell out of" you. By implication does this statement suggest that you want to 'scare the hell' out of people who view your work? Do you want to challenge peoples sensitivities... their fears?

MOK: I think it´s that fear, that makes me interested in the work of William Christenburry. I find it very inspiring! The silence, the desolation. Coming back to the same place through many years, and recording the changes. And the fact that nothingness (the empty), can be scary.

This summer I went to an abandoned Russian city, The pyramid, on Norwegian ground near the North-pole. It´s a communist utopia that was left within 3 months. There are books still in the libary, furniture still in the houses, and glasses still in the hotel bar-- ready for mixing another drink. I worked in video, as the crazy thing about that place is that it actually exists!

But because painting is-- and has to be --very different from photography and video, it´s also quickly becomes-- painting! It is built up of nothing, but paint, brush-strokes, colours, layers, texture-- within a canvas. It becomes a system of problems, a way to go through a process. So many things occur, and I like that journey.

I would like people to stand in front of my paintings or structures, switch off half their brains, and just look and explore. If it hits them, it´s good! I can´t specify what people should feel, the work has to communicate itself. I tend to get mostly hit in my stomach. If I could do that to people-- then I would be very happy!
BS: Are you represented by a gallery at this time? If not, are you seeking gallery representation?

MOK: I have a Danish gallery, that represents me there. Working in London, I think it would be interesting to show my work here-- in a gallery, non-commercial space, or even an apartment. I see my work as communication, and therefore I like to show it.

BS: Finally, is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the artworld?

MOK: Art is a visual language, so maybe it´s time for me to stop talking...
You can learn more about Mie Olise Kjaergaard by visiting the following sites:
Also, you can view more interviews by clicking on the following link:
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin


JoSMOking said...

popeyes treehouse ! your constructions remind me of the forts i used to build as a child

Anonymous said...

great artwork. really impressive stuff.