LevArt, Levanger 2015.
Konstnärshemmet (A Home for Artists) takes as its starting point an artist novel about a nursing home for elderly artists.This novel serves as a framework or a narrative starting point for works in techniques such as paintings, sculptures, drawings and objects.
Iris is a young artist who works part-time as a nurse’s aide. The elderly Suzanne, an author, takes notes. The textile artist Astrid has gone from being the nursing home’s director to being a patient. Konstnärshemmet asks questions about work and identity: Where is the boundary between life and art? What is art worth when I no longer remember it?
Along with producing texts, Stålspets works with painting, sculpture, drawing and objects. While the text is a realistic description of how a nursing home could be organised, the other works in the exhibition use a surreal and expressive pictorial idiom. Here it is a matter of how reality can feel more than of how it looks: sometimes incomprehensible, a mix of chaos and order, consisting of bodily problems, daydreams and existential wonderment.
Bodies grow out of sculptures that test the boundary between the individual and the collective. The catheter bag becomes an extension of the body. The devise used to lift the patient from the wheelchair to the bed becomes an extension of the nursing assistant’s arms. The boundary between where the subject ends and the environment begins is constantly renegotiated.
"The trees shed their leaves. The street is a different shade of grey. It’s icy, hard, as if the gravel was frozen. Snails creep inside their shells, dig themselves into the ground. The old people also prepare themselves, climb into layers of sweaters, pull homemade blankets over their knees, drape their bodies with assortments of clothing that expand and contract, sink into their wheelchairs. It’s hard and cold outside but soft and warm at the innermost place. A floating core. The skin peels under layers of cotton, nylon and wool. The red nails creep out from a cloth opening to lift the coffee cup. The hand consists of fingertips; everything else is inside the shell. Chocolate macaroons have teeth marks in their buttercream filling. The body twists itself. Some parts have gone stiff. They slurp and make careful smacking noises, trying to remove bits of macaroon stuck between gums and false teeth. As the trees become bare, they put their hands under their armpits, cross their legs, wait."
(Lisa Stålspets, from Konstnärshemmet, part 3)
Konstnärshemmet the artist novel is organized in three parts that were written and published over the course of four years. It recounts the struggle of young artists to make ends meet, set amidst the brightness and gloom of a care home exclusively for ageing artists. Using fiction as an example of how we could take care of our elders, the text reflects upon issues concerning identity and work.
See separate entry about the artist book here.
© Copyright Lisa Stålspets 2017.