Maia Birkeland and Monika Mørck
The first time we met with Maia and Monika, it was in a small, wooden house. It was a cold day with snow coming up to our knees. The artists were on residency at a historic farm on Osterøy: Havråtunet, a part of Museumsenteret in Hordaland. Havrå, as it is called in short, is one of the last and best preserved ‘farm clusters' on this side of the country, protected under the Norwegian Cultural Heritage Act. The artists were staying in one of several small, characteristic houses that during summer are being used by seasonal workers.
At the time of our visit, Maia and Monika had already spent several weeks creating work at the historic farm. Their living room had been taken over by projects consisting of found materials, soft sheepskins and knitting- and broidery pattern books from the sixties. During their stay, the artists collected items found in the attics and basements of Havrå that they incorporated into their artistic work and exploration – objects marked by hard labour, such as old garments like gloves and socks, clothing that had been used to exhaustion.
Maia and Monika have been seasonal workers at Havrå themselves, prior to the residency. During the residency however, they got to participate in traditional farm work done in fall and wintertime; clearing the fields and pulling timber. Outdoor activities became part of their artistic inquiries, and formed, along with conversations, literature, the gathering of materials and handicraft, the foundation for the work exhibited at Hordaland Kunstsenter.
To have their living and working space grow together as one, has proven to be representative of Maia and Monika’s artistic practice, and of the questions they have dealt with throughout the process of this exhibition. Life on a farm, and often the life of an artist, eradicates that strictseparation between work and home.
Through the exhibition Hendene. Jorda, we are encouraged to consider what it means to work in our current time and age. We are asked questions around care for traditions as well as care for future generations. What can we do to ensure the continuation of traditional methods and techniques? How can artists today produce work that involves taking ecological responsibility? What do we leave behind? Hendene. Jorda acts as a meeting point between ‘us’ as human beings, not only here and now, but also over generations.
Maia Birkeland and Monika Mørck both have a background in textile art, and they know each other from earlier collaborations. In March, they open yet another collaborative exhibition, titled Oldemor, bestemor, mor, meg., at Galleri Format in Oslo.
Maia Birkeland (b.1978) is based in Oslo and at Osterøy. She works within different fields, mainly focusing on sculpture and installation, with a narrative approach. Birkeland’s work is rooted in a material oriented tradition, with attention to conscious use of resources and of the inherent qualities of different materials. Thematically her work circles around variations of mutual influence between human/human and human/site. Birkeland is interested in profound experiences – to do, and to go through – and how this paves the way for reflection.
Monika Mørck (b. 1984) is a textile artist that has been based in Oslo for many years, but who has now reestablished in Trondheim. Site-specific installations consisting of silk fabric and rope makes out an important part of her practice. When she had children in 2019 her practice changed along with her life, and since that she has worked with embroidery, textile objects and practical/sensuous knowledge. With her own situation and experiences as a starting point she works thematically with questions concerning female identity and sexuality.
Hordaland Art Centre based in Bergen, Norway was established 1976 as the first artist run art centre in Norway. Its activities are based around the exhibition programme with equal emphasis on seminars, presentations and dialogue. Since 1987 Hordaland Art Centre has hosted a Nordic residency programme, from 2008 also open to international artists, curators, writers and other art professionals.