Text by Rasmus Hungnes, Curator, Premiss
”The light that burns twice as bright, burns half as long” – from Blade Runner
Black, shown in the exhibition Ouroboros by Ellen Ringstad, consists of black plastic which was previously wrapped around the building housing the Hordaland Art Centre, for the exhibition Leila by the artist duo AiPotu. Ringstad’s gesture of appropriating the material relates to the concept of recycling, not only of materials (the plastic would otherwise be headed straight for the garbage dump), but also of ideas (the original piece by AiPotu references Wrapped Kunsthalle by Christo and Jeanne-Claude). Contemporary art constantly refers to ancient and modern art history, recycling and recontextualizing ideas. Is art history linear?
Coffee Stain also reveals ways in which the artist discovers the potential in materials otherwise considered worthless: it is a wall painting painted with coffee left in the cups of guests at Ringstad’s part-time job. The exhibition space is used the way it was found, except for minor adjustments, visible in the piece “Untitled”.
Static is a series of drawings on superfluous cardboard collected at a passepartout-factory, using ballpoint pens Ringstad has found here and there. Propelling the gaze to jump like a wild horse around the densely patterned surface, referring to abstract expressionism, minimalism and the monochrome tradition, as well as Sol LeWitt’s conceptual drawings, this is advanced scribbling, virtuously doodled in three layers.
The recycling symbol, the entangled arrows, bears resemblance to the Ouroboros, the snake biting its own tail. The Ouroboros is a symbol for cyclicality, self-reflection and alchemy. Ellen does not, like the alchemists, make gold, rather she turns rubbish into art. Avoiding the role as a missionary for the environmentalist agenda, rather posing questions about how we live our lives, her works may induce us to think twice about our roles as consumers and administrators of resources.
Poetic and dystopian, sometimes with a hint of discreet humour, Ellen Ringstad offers an experience satisfying to the eye, emotions and intellect.