Anne Ring Petersen

           Nature and Man

She enters our field of vision at full speed. Sitting behind the bright red wheel of a blue sports car Mette Vangsgaard whooshes through a multi-laned tunnel along the motorway through both rural and urban areas. She is headed towards the unknown, towards a nightly destination where nature is wild and desolate, and traffic, houses and people are nowhere to be seen. This is how the animated film Aflejre/Deposit from 2004 begins. The film is part of a project in several parts which Mette Vangsgaard has made in collaboration with the visual artist Pernille Priergaard Worsøe[1]. On the face of things, it may seem strange to begin an article about what is special about the work of an artist by talking about a collaborative effort in which one artist’s contribution imperceptibly merges with that of another artist. It is a bit like entering Mette Vangsgaard’s universe through the back door – and then again, perhaps it is not because collaboration is precisely what characterizes the artists that have been hatched from the Danish academies during the past decade.[2]Regardless of the fact that Aflejre is a collaboration, it nevertheless contains traits typical of Mette Vangsgaard, and those traits are what concern us here.   

     First, there is the unveiled cut-in of a section of photographs into other photographs by use of animation. This is completely in line with Vangsgaard’s frequent use of collage techniques in her own works. Right from the beginning of Aflejre it is clear that we are a far cry from the world of Disney and Pixar.  The film has a DIY feeling of low-tech about it. The characters and vehicles which have been cut out from illustrations and photographs move stiffly in jumps as if part of a puppet show with set pieces that are equally made up of photographs. Hereby a strong and eerie sense of tension between standstill and motion arises. There are no sophisticated camera movements that mimic reality’s fluent movements and organic coherence as we know them from film, video and tv. On the contrary, the element of construction is accentuated, which is also shown by the fact that photographs of other works by Mette Vangsgaard are also used as set pieces: here a modeled dam, there a paper model of a city and some interiors built from children’s bead boards and clippings from newspapers and magazines. What we see are images within images and art on art – artifice from beginning to end. Technically, Aflejre is an animated film, but expression wise it resembles a series of collages which by the help of film have been extended in time.       

The next thing that you notice is the partiality for fragments of narratives and sections of the world. In Mette Vangsgaard’s works these fragments function as carriers of narratives which the spectator has to unfold by him- or herself using empathy and imagination. Her works are characterized precisely by the search for a balance on the one hand between well-known symbols containing clear narrative and interpretative clues and on the other hand an openness towards interpretation. Mette Vangsgaard uses her own experience without resorting to pure autobiography or self-portrait. Thus it is typical that she does not feature as ‘herself’ in Aflejre; instead she plays the part according to a set pattern or via models. She is ‘a driver’, a person in transit and in motion, and then further on in the video, a ‘sleep scientist’, someone who investigates the inner life and the nocturnal side of the mind.  

     Thirdly and finally, Aflejre expresses a typical Vangsgaardian interest in the relationship between man and his/her surrounding world. This interest takes both the shape of modern man’s encounter with nature’s more or less unspoiled surroundings and man’s everyday existence in dense urban environments marked by heavy traffic. Fittingly enough, the characters in Aflejre are urban types, and the kind of nature they venture out into is the ‘authentic’, ‘unspoiled’ and ‘wild’, but at the same time pleasantly idyllic nature which is what many city people see as the ideal for a holiday. As we shall see later on, this is a recurring theme of Vangsgaard’s. 

 

The rough aesthetic of Aflejre, the sense that the film is cut using the simple program of a home computer and other available material, is also in keeping with the way that Mette Vangsgaard prefers to work. Complicated techniques and a polished finish are simply not her style. She prefers media and techniques where she can work comparatively quickly and intuitively using improvisation  so that spontaneity is maintained, and where a fully developed concept or countless sketches or models do not keep her from getting started on her work. The inspiration for a work may come from a variety of sources. The initiating impulse can be an idea, an experience or a memory. Mette Vangsgaard prefers to have as little as possible planned in advance so that the completion of the work becomes an exploration where unforeseen possibilities and roads can appear along the way. Accordingly, there is a certain restlessness about her way of working. She would rather throw herself into experiments on something new and untried than keep polishing the old. Still, Vangsgaard’s work is also marked by contemplation. She readily works with the same theme or motif in several media. She gets absorbed in a motif by approaching it and investigating its possibilities of expression from various angles. Flaskesamlerne/The Bottle Collectors is one of the motifs she has produced and interpreted several times during 2007, first in a small almost sketch-like gouache with collage (40 times 50 cm), later in a bigger more worked through gouache with elements of collage (40 times 130 cm), and finally as a painted ceramic sculpture presented on a base built of two green beer cases occasionally fitted with collages. 

     It is really not surprising that ever since the beginning of the 1990s Mette Vangsgaard has repeatedly turned to collage techniques. A painting can be changed by painting over; a photography can be altered, and a clay sculpture can be re-modeled by adding or removing parts, but all these changes are time-consuming and are reminiscent of fitting. Neither the painting, the sculpture or the photograph have the same flexibility as the collage because in the collage parts can easily be moved around. The parts can be laid out as a puzzle, and you can quickly determine how the composition is going to work. The possibilities for interchangeability and re-modeling are almost infinite. The collage is suited for improvisation and exploration because something unforeseen and strange is bound to happen. Furthermore, editing and cutting provides the artist with other possibilities, such as e.g. condensing, compared to photography. Last but not least, the collage does not conceal the fact that it is a construction. Its unconcealed fragmented structure provides a certain sense of honest imagery. Take for instance Mette Vangsgaard’s collage Trendy Bar (2007). At first glance, the spectator sees that the work is made up of clippings. In the foreground are two architectural fragments with double windows conjoined so that they form not a house but a Janus head with luminous eyes. It shoots up like a hostile periscope in front of a torn mountain top with a city which is as strewn with historical sights and bar signs (a sign of the invasion of tourism upon originality) as the night sky is filled with stars. Here nature and culture, dream and reality, poetry and criticism are condensed into one image. Even though ‘the eyes’ are not turn towards the spectator, but are looking past you as if scanning a far horizon, the sombre Janus head urges you to reconsider your role as spectator. The Janus head with its two pair of eyes, two gazes, represents so to speak the gaze which the image reflects upon the viewer so that he/she is able to notice the exchange between image and spectator and the latter’s role as spectator. When this double view feels insistent even though you are not at the receiving end, it is hardly because of the monstrosity of the figure alone, but also because the collage as collage points at its own status as construction thereby holding the spectator in a form of reflective gaze rather than letting the spectator slide into the predominantly sensuous, associative and psychological reflection which the romance and poetry of the night motif might encourage. 

     Historically, the collage is not an artistic ‘discipline’ in itself in the same sense as ‘the painting’, ‘the sculputure’ or ‘the drawing’. On the contrary, it is a technique which besides functioning as an independent medium also can be attached to other disciplines and media, and can be used in many different ways. 

Mette Vangsgaard’s eclectic use of the collage reflects her background. She was educated as a painter at the Royal Danish Academy of Art between 1989 and 1996, the period in which many Danish  artists tried to break away from the more theory based approaches which characterized the previous generation, e.g. Elisabeth Toubro, Morten Stræde, Claus Carstensen, Henrik B. Andersen et al. Generally speaking, the 1990s were marked by many different co-existing positions with few converging positions; yet two such positions were evident. Some of the artists from the 1990s , e.g. Gitte Villesen and Jens Haaning, were looking for a more direct and unmediated take on the social and political world; others, like Kathrine Ærteberg and Julie Nord, sought a more fiction based mode of expression akin to fantasy literature. Mette Vangsgaard cannot be placed in either of these two camps, rather she tries to unite these two opposites. She is an alert observer of social reality, but her artistic language is not one of social realism; instead it is a peculiar and paradoxical fusion of motifs from everyday life with traits from non-everyday movements such as symbolism, expressionism and naïve art – with a contemporary awareness of the nature of the image as a sign. When you look at Vangsgaard’s pictures, you can therefore get a feeling of being in a parallel universe, much like the girl Lyra and the boy Will who in Philp Pullman’s trilogy The Golden Compas (1995), The Subtle Knife (1997), The Amber Spy-Glass (2000) travel between different worlds which are both different from and yet strangely reminiscent of the world we know. 

     At the Academy, Vangsgaard took classes with two very different professors, Ole Sporring and Claus Carstensen. The former is representative of an expressive, narrative and figural way of painting which often comments on political and environmental issues. The latter represents a versatile, conceptual praxis which does have the art of painting as its foundation, but also spreads itself across many media. Consequently, Vangsgaard has been able to find inspiration in both camps: Sporring has encouraged her to work figuratively and with narratives while focusing on acute problems of our times, Carstensen on the other hand has given her the urge to explore new media. Despite her education in painting, Vangsgaard is just as little a painter as Carstensen is. Mette Vangsgaard is a broad-spectred visual artist who displays a painter’s sensibility towards colours and texture – also when she is working in media other than painting. This is never more evident than when she is working on paper collages where some of the elements have been painted on, or where the collage is placed on a canvas and combined with parts painted in gouache, but this also applies to her ceramic work. 

 

 

In the tradition of western sculpture, these are not normally painted on[3]. Their colour is that of the original material, e.g. marble, granite, bronze, plaster. Despite the fact that many people associate the sculptures of antiquity with the natural whiteness of marble, archeological excavations have shown that  many of them were painted on in strong colours. In the 20th century, in particular since the end of World War II, sculptors have challenged the classic conception of the purity, stability and ideality of the sculpture by means of painting on it. In a Danish context, this is evident when we look at the experiments with painting on sculpture as in the works of Henry Heerup and Eiler Bille in the years leading up to and during the war. These experiments contributed to a re-consideration of the prevailing conception of painting as the art of colour and sculpture as that of space; thus the borders between painting and sculpture were made more fluid. When a colour is painted on a sculpture, the colour loses its given status and aura of objectivity which surrounds the colour of the material. The colour becomes a cultural surface which the artist has chosen; it becomes expression and laden with significance. As seen with e.g. Kasper Heiberg and Willy Ørskou, and later with Elle Klarskov Jørgensen and Øivind Nygård, many of the sculptural experiments with colour have been concerned with adding to the colour a spatial concretion which is hard to apply to painting. The ceramic sculpture is different from this scenario because it seems peculiarly naked and unfinished without glazing. In other words, it demands a skin of colour although it does not have to be polychrome, as demonstrated by Nils Erik Gjerdevik’s organic-architectonic ceramic sculptures from 2003.[4] If a ceramic sculpture is painted on in several colours, it is thus a conscious choice of the artist, a ‘picturesque’ choice aimed at transferring some of the qualities of the painting to the sculpture: the colouristic, the psychological and the illusionary. It is precisely this opportunity which Mette Vangsgaard takes advantage of in e.g. a jar formed sculpture from 2005. Around the sculpture’s cylinder shape a forest of slender fir trees – in whose shade a vagabond has thrown himself to smoke and drink – wraps itself. The sculpture has the same figurative richness as a picture. You could even claim that the sculpture is more picture than sculpture because the figurative parts are formed as a low relief that wraps itself around the surface of the cylinder as a frieze, painted in ceramic glazings in blue, yellow-brown, violet and green nuances.  

     The smoking, alcoholic tramp in the forest is the epitome of the lowest class of people in society. He personifies expulsion and homelessness, but as shown in the title Skovsvin (Forest Pig), he also represents irresponsibility in relation to himself and to his surroundings. Motif and title are surprising because ceramic jars are something you normally associate with nice living-rooms and exclusive antiquities. This brings a tension into the work, a tension between the high and the low which is present in much of Vangsgaard’s work when it comes to motif and material. One can for instance find it in the woven (image) carpet Flasker i skov/Bottles in forest (2006). Hand woven (image) carpets are normally associated with fine handicraft products, but the empty bottles hanging in Vangsgaard’s forest picture guide our thoughts in the direction of the low and outcast, namely the drunk, who is only indirectly present in this work via his traces, the string of bottles under the tree tops. 

     In order to avoid that the miniscule nature of the ceramic sculptures reduces these to affected knick-knack, Mette Vangsgaard has in her latest group of sculptures built these upon collaged platforms. The sculptures Lukket for i år/Closed for this year and Forladt/Deserted depict desolate, windy cafés on a palm beach. The complete narrative of these works is pieced together through the thematic exchange taking place between the colourful clippings of the base and the narrative universe which the small world of the sculpture opens a window out into. The colourful collages point to what the sculptures are about, but do not expect a progressive narrative or a didactic moral point. As for content, the works contain a cluster of signs that are combined via cross-references and familiarities into a thematic which gets its core from the melancholy atmosphere of the catastrophe-ridden holiday beach of the ceramic sculpture, a paradise lost or at least threatened. It is typical of Vangsgaard to take such a scene or situation from so-called ‘real life’ and use it as prism wherein a critical understanding of the bigger social and historical contexts can be reflected. Both Lukket for i år and Forladt, as well as Trendy Bar, are comments on holiday situations and the tourist’s dream of freedom and exotic destinations. However, in the sculptures a poignant reminder lurks in so far as the fragility of the beach café sculptures and the platforms can be interpreted as metaphors for the fragility that characterizes culture as being at the mercy of nature. At the same time there seems to be a dialectic relationship between the slender, wind-blown grace at the top of the platforms and the raw materials and collage aesthetics. Thereby the works achieve a breath of expression which stretches from the refined and a colourist sensitivity to the trashy and raw. 

 

If one were to point to an ‘aesthetic sensibility’ in Mette Vangsgaard’s production, it would thus have to be a sense of the picturesque combined with a preference for the collage, and the ability to use this hybrid sensibility to criticize and renew the classic disciplines painting and sculpture from ‘within’, i.e. from a vantage point within these disciplines themselves. Her so-called ‘vendebilleder’ (reversible or turning images) from 2006-2007 are probably the clearest examples of such a form of constructive criticism. Ved havet/By the sea (2006), Både I havet/Boats in the sea (2006) and Krydstogtskib/Cruiser (2006) can be seen as a contemporary version of the marine painting. They are made up of slats with a triangular profile so that the slats are conjoined in one particular motif when the picture is seen from the right, and another motif when seen from the left. Seen from straight in front of the picture, the motifs dissolve into a flicker. From a distance Ved havet and Krydstogtskib resemble paintings, but if you look closer the organic coherence of the picture dissolves, and you discover  that it is a collage pasted together by fragments  painted with watercolour, gouache and crayon. If you want to really look at these pictures, you actually have to move around a quite a lot. In this way the body of the spectator becomes an active part of the process. You have to move from side to side in order to see the two different motifs and experience how the whole work breaks down, or rather is deconstructed, in the centre. It takes a great distance to see the motifs converge, to make the illusion work. But you have to move very close to really see how the illusion is made and study the mosaic of painted paper pieces. To classify these works in paper as ‘collage’ says as little about the character of the works as calling them ‘paintings’. The point lies in the fusion which widens the hitherto known framework of what these two genres can do – also when it comes to content. A picture like Ved havet contains two motifs in one. However, you can see one motif at a time because the motifs depend on the spatial position of the spectator. This reciprocal dependence between work and spectator enables ‘vendebillederne’ to orchestrate a refined play between the visible and the invisible, creation and destruction, appearance and disappearance, which engages the spectator in a bodily and performative way. ‘Vendebillederne’ really contain three pictures if you count the abstract flicker which occurs when the spectator is placed right in front of the picture where the two figurative motifs dissolve. When you are standing right in front of ‘vendebillederne’, the motif will simply not manifest itself; and then again, maybe it will because the gaze of the modern spectator adjusts very quickly to looking at an abstract composition in the chaos of dissolution. In ‘vendebillederne’ Mette Vangsgaard cultivates the collapse of form until this reaches a turning point at which chaos becomes something else, namely abstract composition. 

     One could call this the collapse of form at the frontier of the failed attempt. The preoccupation with this frontier is also found elsewhere in Vangsgaard’s production, e.g. in the hint at disproportion in the ceramic sculpture and in the choice of ‘impossible’ tasks: it could be to build a whole tableau of little plastic beads (The Little City Pearlville, 2001), or it could be to do the impossible by modeling a sculpture of a lake (Sø med andehus/Lake with duck house, 2004, Sø med tømmerflåde/Lake with raft, 2004-2006); because how in the world does one make an articulated three-dimensional sculpture of a surface of water?                     

Mette Vangsgaard is typically at work on several projects simultaneously. Therefore it does not make much sense to try and force a chronology on her work; it does not evolve linearly where one project is conceived, begun, unfolded and finished to give way to another project, and so forth. Rather her oeuvre has a branching structure which buds via improvisation, playfulness and experiment in different directions simultaneously –  both when it comes to motif and media. Looking back at her work during the past decade, it becomes clear that her production is not a wilderness, but a converging of thematic and motifs in clusters, always with focus on man and his/her actions. 

     The grandeur and uncontrollable forces of nature do play an important role in Vangsgaard’s universe, but the focus is always on the modern, urbanized individual’s relation to nature. Often she emphasizes the destructive elements of this relationship. The focus can be almost strictly related to environmental politics as in Skovsvin and Flasker i skov. However, Vangsgaard may also attack her subject from another angle whereby she highlights the uncontrollable and destructive features of nature as in the painting Dagen efter/The day after and the ceramic sculpture Solskin over grantræer/Sunshine over fir trees (2006), whose broken trunks tell what the title of the gouache Efter stormen (2007) says directly: that we are looking at the day after nature has shown her more destructive side. Were it not for the broken trunks in Dagen efter and the wreckage and the deserted boat in Efter stormen, both pictures would be the epitome of the beauty and harmony of nature in which the morning sun rises huge and round as a life giving sphere of fire. It is nature as in a panoramic sight that we are presented with in Dagen efter and Efter stormen. In this way these works capture the psychological contrasts in man’s perception of nature: catastrophe and harmony, beauty and horror. Because of Vangsgaard’s insistence on construction, it is evident that we are not dealing with nature’s in-itself-ness, but with man’s conception of nature. Consequently, these works are related in spirit to the film Aflejre. In Dagen efter it is the sign in the foreground pointing to a sight which makes the spectator aware of the artificiality. The sign re-appears a year later in a gouache with paper clippings entitled  Go Sight-seeing (2007), but this work is tinted with irony. The sign simply blocks the view of the glowing sunset panorama which it was supposed to make people stop and look at, and at the base of the sign, people have left as much litter as they do at the cinema when the film is over. Go Sight-seeing more than hints at the distanced and callous relationship that modern man has with nature. In other words, modern sight-hungry tourists seldom experience nature as anything but a sight which they ritualistically photograph with the family album in mind. 

The tourist in general is a recurring character in Vangsgaard’s production, just as tourism is recurring theme. In Rig og fattig/Rich and Poor (2007) Vangsgaard comments on the contrast between the rich tourists and the poor locals in a Mexican palm paradise. In a series of pictures from 2006 it is the anonymity of modern mass tourism which she is commenting on (Dame i swimmingpool, Hoteller, Uden titel). At the solo exhibition Sølvvand/Silver water at the Copenhagen gallery Beaver Projects in 2006, it was primarily the gaze of the tourist which Vangsgaard had her focus on. In the middle of that exhibition was a mountain climbing back packer tourist on a mighty mountain sculpture. This tableau formed a basis for the theme and motif(s) of all of the works at the exhibition. Vandringsmanden/The wanderer at the peak brings back memories of the romantic painter Casper David Friedrich’s famous The Wanderer over the nebula sea (1818) as well as J. F. Willumsen’s monumental Bjergbestigerske (1904). Just like these, Vangsgaard’s wanderer is a romantic, but contrary to his predecessors, he is also a contemporary tourist and consumer. He has souvenir patches from earlier trips sewn into his clothes¸ he has mp3-players and Vitel spring water in plastic bottles, but also a walking cane and a fiddler’s flute to support his romantic image. An important part of the tourist experience lies in the contemplation of a series of landscapes and urban settings which differ from one’s everyday surroundings. When we travel we look at our surroundings with curiosity and a sharpened attention, on the lookout for what is different. The tourist gaze is not interested in the things that remind it of home. Instead it focuses on the beautiful, aesthetic and ‘picturesque’ in what is foreign and strange. This gaze has on the whole a more developed sensitivity towards visual elements than what we could call ‘the ordinary/homely gaze’.[5] Thereby a similarity of structure between the gaze of the tourist and that of the spectator becomes apparent. By playing on this similarity, Vangsgaard is able to make her wanderer a character of identification for the spectator. 

     From his mountain peak on Sølvvand the wanderer also had a view to another mountain invaded by tourism: in Campingvogne på bjerg/Auto-campers on mountain (2007) Vangsgaard had mounted a cluster of campers shaped as three-dimensional paper objects on a ‘vendebillede’ with mountain motive. Vangsgaard started working on objects like these in 2000-2001. The objects were based on photographs of houses and cars which were photocopied and put together to form three-dimensional objects, and then partly coloured. To begin with Vangsgaaard created a row of smaller models of camping sites, mountain landscapes and paper cities. At the group exhibition Seven up + 13 til bords – en installation at Sophienholm in 2004, Vangsgaard hung them vertically on the wall, almost in defiance of gravity. This also gave the person ascending the stairs a bird’s perspective on countryside and city, as if all were seen from a plane. The preliminary culmination of the paper models came in 2002 when Vangsgaard built a gigantic city model of paper houses for her solo exhibition Bilerne på gaden træerne i haven/The cars on the street the trees in the garden at Gentofte Library of Art. This model was also hung on the wall as if it were a gigantic city map. In Campingvogne på bjerg the small rolling human habitats were seen peeping out from the rough cliff sides of the mountain – just like houses and the cars strutted out from the wall in the city model. Contrary to the individualistic and freedom seeking wanderer, the auto-campers appeared as a rolling invasion force which in a collaborative effort sought to conquer a wild nature essentially foreign to the domesticated camping culture.       

     Thus we see that man’s encounter with nature is an important theme to Mette Vangsgaard; man’s everyday life in the city is another. Up until 2000 it was in particular the suburbs and private life which interested Vangsgaard. In collages put together by photographs and plastic beads, she drew the contours of life in the semi-detached houses with well-known artifacts from the sleepy life of 1970s suburbia. Since then Vangsgaard has turned her attention towards the big cities. Breugels by/City of Breugel (2007) is an example of this, drawing art historical parallels back to Pieter Breugel the Elder’s famous allegorical painting Tower of Babel I (1563). Breugels by is a colourful collage based patchwork of a city. The architecture of the tower reaches for the sky, and it is peopled by multiple peoples in Babylonic confusion. The picture collects clippings from different times and cultures. By choosing pictures from various periods, Mette Vangsgaard foregrounds the fact that people and culture are part of a particular time, and that time is always on the move, just like the flow of migrants that gravitate from different parts of the world towards the contact zones of the metropolis. But where Breugel’s Tower of Babel talks about the fatal consequences of the strife and misunderstandings between peoples, Vangsgaard’s picture is an homage to the multi-ethnic metropolis and its ability to make people live side by side in harmony in respect of each other’s differences. That this harmony is not always a fact makes explicit the utopian dimension: Breugels by is the ideal version of the multi-ethnic metropolis.  

     However, on the whole the touch in Mette Vangsgaard’s metropolis motifs is more realistic. Just like the tourist motive Rig og fattig, several of her metropolis pictures bear witness to an awareness of social classes and social structure. Vangsgaard has an eye for the alcoholics collecting empty bottles outside the rich people’s flats, which are lit up by fancy Le Klint lamps and Weber grills on the balcony. But she also has an eye for the Rich Young Ones (2007) who live in attractive new houses on the canals of Christianshavn with their own boats on the quay. She may zoom in on types and details as in Flaskesamlerne, but she may also zoom out and look at the macro structures of the city as in Seaside City (2007), where the focus is on the un-peopled coast line and soaring skyline of the big city. In Seaside City the hub is made up of the stable and steady elements of the city, but Vangsgaard has also previously worked with the mobile elements of the city. In Huse og campingvogne (2006), a relief of three-dimensional paper houses and auto-campers – she even equates the stable with the mobile as if to underline that they share in equal parts the reality of the city. Vangsgaard’s paper models are diminished to the size of toys. The associations along the lines of hobby models and happy play time make the works unpretentious and childishly charming, but the fragile and easily moveable paper models always remind the spectator of the fragility of civilization and of man. In Vangsgaard’s big city model from 2002 this duality is particularly insisting; maybe this is because the diminutive size of the paper model makes it so obvious. The model situates itself somewhere between small town and metropolis. However, it is not architecture which dominates, as would be the case in an architectural model, but the restless traffic which more than anything characterizes the big city. The emphasis is thus on movement, change and the ability of the city to expand way beyond its physical borders via e.g. traffic. Here as in so many instances it is the movement of contemporary man which interests Mette Vangsgaard. Man as wanderer, as camper, as tourist, as car driver. With these characters Vangsgaard points to a basic trait of modern life forms, namely restless mobility and the transit experience of the voyage. At the same time she points to her own trajectory. Even though she has established herself as an artist, the course is not set once and for all. She is not moving in any given direction, but rather she is moving forward through improvisation. She explores different tracks that sometimes cross each other or older tracks, and which sometimes might lead in totally new directions. There is no way of telling where Mette Vangsgaard’s journey as an artist will end. One thing is certain, though: she is headed towards the unknown, into the wide open.    

 

[1]                    So far the project has resulted in the films Outskirts/Udkanten (1999) and Aflejre (2004). 

[2]                    Some artists, such as Superflex, N55, and Elmgreen  & Dragist – have made the group project the real artistic project, and the group name has become the name under which the manifest themselves. To others, e.g. Jes Brinch & Henrik Plenge Jacobsen and CUDI (Lise Skou and Lasse Lau), the group project is something they participate in from time to time alongside their solo career when a particular project or exhibition calls for it. The works of Vangsgaard & Worsøe belong to the latter category.  

[3]                    The following paragraph on sculpture and colour is indebted to: Mikkel Bogh, ”Objekt, bemalet”, Farvefænomener. Bemalinger i dansk skulptur 1947-1998, red. Mikkel Bogh, København: Charlottenborg 1999: 8-33.  

[4]                    See Bjerkhof, Sven, red., Nils Erik Gjerdevik. København: Statens Museum for Kunst, 2003. 

[5]                    John Urry: The Tourist Gaze. Leisure and Travel in Contemporary Societies, London: Sage, 1990: 3.