Stine Marie Jacobsen is a bright inspiring artist from Denmark. Performance, video, photo and film compose her complex work:
/ How would you finish these sentences, Stine?
▽ In these times of text compression and over-flow of Top 10 to 25 lists…but ok here we go (laughs)
Children should always believe …. and not loose faith in magic, love and themselves.
The darkest colour is…. the one you can imagine but not depict.
If you touch a butterfly … and inhale the dust you stole from it, you will for a brief moment become the saddest person alive.
Nothing is more powerful than … working together.
/ We came across your work through the Skankaloss Festival in Gagnef, Sweden. In which way were you involved as an artist?
▽ I was invited to do a work for the festival and made a performative intervention in the form of five posters and actions called “Sensitive Observers”.
/ Can you elaborate on your work at the Festival setting, please?
▽ The posters each had an informational instruction which a group of performers were hired to do at the festival. The poster sentences are written in white text on dark green backgrounds, reminding one of chalk on a school board and were hung in trees around the festival near the designated areas: concert stage, bar, sauna, art work and forest.
The five sentences were: “In the sauna someone is hired to talk about a movie”, “Look to your right A Man is paid to watch you”, “At this bar a person is instructed to give someone a compliment”, “Someone will say something untrue about Gabriel Lester” and “Near this sign someone will tell a rumor”.
The posters are working around how language as narrative, rumor, myth or stories disseminates and changes when passing through one or more bodies to a percipient. The posters are reminders of human and corporate communication systems. They reflect what I feel is being done to me. In “Sensitive Observers”, a small part of the “impossible-to-capture-whole” was revealed on the posters. The performers who implemented the different actions and stories and the audience who might have experienced the posters are now vessels who in their collectivity contain the work. I hope the owl turned into a cat** at the festival, but sometimes you do need more time to do that kind of magic.
/ Is it the first time you worked with the Skankaloss Festival?
▽ Yes and I would for sure do it again, because the organisers are so amazing, giving and loving!
/ Did you know before hand what the other artists will exhibit?
▽ I was really well informed about the other art works in the festival and was therefore able to “infiltrate” one of the other artists, Gabriel Lester’s work in my intervention.
/ So you got a topic or was it free working?
▽ I was completely free to do what I wanted.
/ What inspires you for a project like this?
▽ I always interview people on the locations where I work. When I cannot personally go to research I need as much information as possible from the people inviting me. That’s why I also asked you in one of our first emails what the most common action of the visitors at the Skankaloss Festival was. For this project, I had the artist Linda Tedsdotter who was so cool to invite me, inform me about the festival, its reputation and visitors before I made the work.
/ Which of the other pieces of art did you like best at the Festival?
▽ The white russian drink with breast milk! The artist Ylva Ogland’s ritual left the biggest impression on me along with a literally “new” taste in my mouth…she milked her breasts in front of us and said magic spells over the drinks and then her little daughter walked around and served us the drinks.
/ How was your Festival time?
▽ AW! (the howling version, not the hurting one…)
/ Did you have a highlight band?
▽ I really enjoyed the concert by R. Seiliog. They played a fucking amazing concert at Skankaloss!
/ We had a look at your current work in Berlin with the project DIRECT APPROACH. It is a really interesting and complex topic that you approach there. How did you decide to work with and create a discourse around violence?
▽ Maybe I should first explain the project:
DIRECT APPROACH is an art project based on conversations about violence in film and reality, which has now become a Workshop project and Guidebook.
In the project participants are asked to describe from their memory the most
violent film scene that they have ever watched. Then they are asked to choose one of the characters from the film scene, which in this project works around three categorisations: victim, perpetrator and bystander, for a new recording of the film scene that follows the script of their memory.
I have worked on the topic violence for many years and this project is the biggest and most complex of them all. The work came from observations that I made in society and also research on contemporary (anti-)violence training. I wanted to create a platform where people can reflect on their own violence and also in film and society.
It is a self-evident and at the same time really offensive way to present your art work about violence in film and reality in forms of video and interviews. What were your thoughts behind this decision?
Direct Approach aims to be a platform for open discussions that promote reflection. When doing the project it is very much about being sensitive, listening, forgetting your own ego and slowing down your speed.
I had many thoughts when I began doing this project and still have. The film scene is a protective shield and the project is created in such a way that the rememberer can use the film scene and its characters instead of their private stories. I always remind them that they can be anonymous.
I was looking for an indirect and non-judgemental way to invite people to talk about violence without me deciding what kind of violence they should talk about. I constantly remind and protect the participants to not over-share their privacy in this unguarded moment which a conversation is and that I am looking for public statements in this project.
Narrating a film scene is a complicated process of constructing a story from thousands of components. A film scene recalled from memory invariably consists of different memories, the participant’s own world view and their personal identification with the characters involved etc. This project creates a unique platform for examining how we relate to violence by asking participants to recount a film scene, pick a fictional character, explain their choice and engage in discourse on contemporary violence.
I have now together with a Danish language psychologist, whom I have been worked with for years, turned the art project into a guidebook*** for schools and other institutions who wish to work with the topic violence. The guidebook and project can hopefully be used to provide inspiration for dialogues about film violence and its relation to violence in society today.
/ What was the most emotional moment in the process of this work?
▽ Every time participants share or shared their private violent experiences.
/ Where did you conduct your interviews? Which places inspired you to this project?
▽ In my studio. So far I have done the project only in Germany. Later this year I will do it in Denmark, Colombia and Ireland. The project began in the context of German culture and history.
/ What is the strongest emotion, you would say you ever felt?
▽ I think you are maybe asking me this question because of my project (laughs). The strongest emotion was fear and sorrow together.
/ What is the most magical place you have ever been at?
▽ An imaginary landscape that I meditate myself into.
/ Is there a cure for homesickness?
▽ I am never homesick, because I easily feel at home where I am. So there is no need for a cure.
/ Thank you for the interview, Stine! And good luck with your upcoming projects!
** A visual rumor experiment read in the book “The Psychology of Rumor” by Gordon Allport, where a drawing of an owl becomes a cat when a it is drawn from person to person. The experiment explains visually how we in – almost like in the platonic cave – obtain a “general idea” of a story or an object according to our own biases and how the idea over time is adjusted more and more to our own preconceptions rather than the actual seen object or a first hand fact.
The Direct Approach Guidebook will be published on September 20th 2014.
The official website, distribution and archive is viewable on www.direct-approach.org
Text by Jacobsen
Poster by Jacobsen & Modem.ws
Interview Lola Tivoli, 2014
Photo Anna Lamberg