mfa january 2024
ARTIST STATEMENT LAURIE VESTØL, JANUARY 2024
Islander and artist, I am concerned with marine ecology. My background is in the monumental work of landscape architecture and city planning, which requires large scale collaborations. In the studio, I embrace a softer, intrepid approach to the landscape and tease out collaboration in the unlikeliest of places. On isolated skerries, my regenerative interventions link birds, lichen, and bedrock. At my boathouse gallery, my installations invite community and connection.
My art practice includes kayaking in the archipelago of south-east Norway in the early morning, a ritual I undertake with my community of friends. In the cold Nordic landscape, we paddle the fjord, following its strange polyrhythmic pulse of wind, tide, and light. I attend to fleeting glimpses of deep cliffs and swarms of poisonous jellyfish. Somewhere beyond the confines of consciousness I brush up against elusive beings moving in the dark and imagine the mental shapes of alien nomads traveling the sea.
I translate this sensory fieldwork into performance, video, sound, and installation. My immersive works explore the possibilities of interspecies intimacy, including questions of non-human perception, and the tensions of corporeal autonomy. Confronting my own impulse to manipulate the landscape, my work creates opportunities to encounter our own bodies in relation to the land in ways that allude to mystical traditions and belief systems.
underpulse is a dystopian saga confronting environmental ocean degradation and the sixth Great Dying via characters from Norse Saga reborn in symbiotic form. A series of hybrids evoke a shared energy state that link people to marine creatures, spirits, and potentials…nomads traveling the sea.
underpulse: fjord saga follows the nomadic journey of the Lion’s mane jellyfish in the Telemark archipelago. Marine artist Laurie Vestøl has been swimming under, kayaking alongside and encountering the sea creatures as they float by. The world’s largest gelatinous zooplankton, their poisonous tentacles paralyze their prey. Spaces underwater are poetic and filled with quiet revelations of sealife, a pulsing silent rhythm of life that moves with the flow of the currents. Is the rhythm a waltz or a hearthbeat? A slow breath?
underpulse: lion’s mane tests out the tension and release of the jellyfish. My “worms eye view” and the gaze of the camera connects me to the feeling of breath as it ripples through Sandvold’s body. The dancer’s description of needing to take a step back to move forwards and the feeling of her hair in the wind became a part of the interpretation.