2019 began on a good note, catching Lisa Grip's exhibition Våta Knän at Konstfack where she is graduating this spring in the MFA-class. The allegorical show put forth in the midst leopard slugs mating and in parallel visual affiliaiton; her partner and former lover entwined in muddy combat. About the title which translates to "wet knees" in English she notes that it could be the outcome of a forced or a trustful situation, or else something playful or intimate, or maybe alarming of menace and something at risk.
Lisa Grip, photo: Freya Sif Hestnes
C-P: Congratulations on your recent MFA degree exhibition Våta knän at Konstfack which I found to be a great start to 2019 . The exhibition notably was very elegantly installed, with commendable and smart solutions used to present the works. For someone with a great love for words, I have to say the title of your exhibition strikes me as quite perfect in light of the embedded themes. Run me through how the titles correlates to the art and the thematic approach of your work.
L.G: The title Våta knän is inspired from a photograph I took many years ago. The black-and-white photograph depict two women after a wrestling match in the grass. In a vertical position on the ground they impose grips on each other, one of them on the top, the other one below with her wet knees directed towards the camera.
With the title, I am referring to something quite bodily, but also to a state of mind. Having wet knees means that something has taken place and occured. Wet knees could be an outcome of a forced situation, or a trustful situation, it could be something playful or intimate. It talks about surrender, gravity, rituals and maybe that something is actually at risk.
C-P: The centerpiece of the exhibition you could say is the video-work of two men wrestling each other on muddy ground, inspired by the photograph you mention. The unity of the two slender and mirroring bodies locking together and being thrown around is compelling to look at; like a dance with a whiff of controlled violence involved. Wrestling as a notion can easily be charged with allegorical and symbolic meaning and you were telling me how the performers are two people close to you; your current partner and your ex. What was your idea going into the project?
L.G: I filmed this almost six years ago, without a clear concept but an already existing inherent tension in reality made me stage the situation. I used the medium of silent super -8 video to capture my previous lover and my current partner in the embrace of a wrestling match on the beach next to my house. One can look at this piece as a triangle drama, but I have realized it might be about my desire to see them in a struggle over me.
Over the years, as I have staged similar situations with people close to me. I have been reflecting a lot about my role as the director and artist with a camera at hand. How I influence situations between people in front of my camera within a composition that I have created, and have forced to happen. To let something be untouched, I only do one recording of the situations, without any rehearsal. In one way I want to command control but at the same I want to loose it.
C-P: Another video-work which is visually quite striking, and also in the course of action parallells the previous work, is one that depicts the mating process of two insects. The way you relate to it as a viewer is alternating between being overwhelmed by the beauty of the visuals and also intrisically in parts feeling repulsed by the sight. It’s an interesting dynamic which you manage to capture so well.
L.G: This video-collage consists of leopard slugs mating. They are hermaphrodites and can fertilize themselves, but they can mate too. One of the slugs leads the other. They entwine their bodies around each other and hang down from a thick slimy thread. They evert their long, blue penises from behind their heads and entwine those as well, and form a vulva-like shape where they exchange sperm loads. It’s as if their internal organs are merging. When the act is ended they pull their penis back inside the body and leave each other.
I also found them repulsive, but at the same time I think there is something attractive in their alien-like form of act. I got captivated.
This piece is installed hanging rather high from the ceiling, opposed to the other works in the exhibition, which all has low center of gravity; images hung low on walls and even standing straight on the ground. My hope was that the primitive and raw content in this work would "bleed out" into the room to affect the other works.
C-P: You did your BFA at Academy Valand in Gothenburg and are finishing your MFA at Konstfack this spring. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on the present artistic landscape out there and ”the conditions” of being an emerging artist today.
L.G: I'm still a student, trying to make the best of the last few months. I don’t have that much time to be out in the ”landscape” as much as I would want. What I know about the conditions right now is from discussions with my classmates, colleagues, friends and professors. I understand that it can be tough, but I hope to get many opportunities to show my work and to be able to continue my practice after school.
C-P: On that note, I know you have a busy spring with a couple of planned exhibitions which is lovely. Tell me more about where you are showing there and your plans for 2019.
L.G: I will show a live installation at the Research Week at Konstfack on February 1; the piece is an extension of the show Våta knän. During the end of March and April I will exhibit at the Italian Cultural Institute in Stockholm, together with the Australian artist Danae Valenza. Then I will of course take part in the spring degree exhibition at Konstfack between May 16 and May 26. After I graduate I plan to continue to develop my work, and focus on the high complexities found within human relationships, in the direction I already have started.
To learn more about Lisa Grip,