Dissolved Rodeo Dr. LA 02. Size 70x100 cm. OSL duo 01. Size 100x240 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum. Dissolved Rodeo Dr. LA 02. Size 70x100 cm. OSL duo 01. Size 100x240 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum.

Delirious Metropol

Gallery Semmingsen
Christine Istad
12/3 - 19/4 2020

Gallery Semmingsen is proud to present the forth solo exhibition by Christine Istad at the gallery, titled ‘Delirious Metropol’. The show is comprised of ten large scale colour photographs from the artist’s ongoing body of work, produced between 2018 and 2020. Istad’s work displays a thorough commitment to the photographic medium.

A New Nature
We are all familiar with the term nostalgia. But perhaps less with the newer term “solastalgia”. A word “invented” by Australian philosopher Glenn Albrecht to describe ecological sorrow. A melancholia felt strongly by many of us; a “homesickness” for lost landscapes and species, in an area where human civilization characterizes the environment to the extent that clear geological traces are deposited on earth.

Through photographic studies, Christine Istad highlights details in modern architecture, in photographs referring to the real time and place in which they were taken. The motifs appear abstract and dissolved, although many of her most recent works are more organic in form than her previous. None the less, trough her detailed focus on optical effects, reflections of light and rhythms, Istad creates images of new forms of landscapes; artificial spaces.

Identity, relationship between people, society and modern, high speed cities are topics that concern the artist. Her close-up studies of towering architecture and densely packed urbanity reveal both her interest in a loss of nature and mankind's capacity to adapt to alienation and find small 'pockets' for physical and psychological space. The result is reminiscent of a principle of cultural anthropology, where the main question is what happens to inherited traditions and fundamental values when technology and efficiency become the defining powers in our lives? How is the balance between man and nature, and nature within man, maintained when the individual is increasingly defined as a "mechanical figure"?

Istad’s works focus on contrasts found in our most modern and innovative metropolises, where tradition and technology are thrown into sharp relief. Her photo series are stunningly beautiful and plays with the viewers perception. What do we see? Is it the in- or outside of a building? Is it the building itself or reflections of buildings in its proximity?
Istad offers no answers. Instead she asks: How do we keep our identity and humanity in a world perceived as façades and reflections?

Text: Karin Sunderø

The exhibition is supported by Bildende Kunstneres Vederlagsfond, NBK
Gallery Semmingsen
semmingsen.no
Astrid Hilde Semmingsen
Mob 90594117
Fru Kroghs Brygge 2, Tjuvholmen, 0252 Oslo, Norway.

OSL duo 01. Size 100x240 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum. OSL duo 01. Size 100x240 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum.

Dissolved Tr.Heim 01. Dissolved Rodeo Dr. 02. Size 70x100 cm. OPhoto on brushed aluminum. Dissolved Tr.Heim 01. Dissolved Rodeo Dr. 02. Size 70x100 cm. OPhoto on brushed aluminum.

Dissolved Hamburg 01. Size 70x100 cm. Photo digital print. Dissolved Hamburg 01. Size 70x100 cm. Photo digital print.

Dissolved OSL 01. Size 70x100 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum. Dissolved Pantheon 01. Size 100x150 cm. Digital print. Dissolved OSL 01. Size 70x100 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum. Dissolved Pantheon 01. Size 100x150 cm. Digital print.

Dissolved OSL 01. Size 70x100 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum. Dissolved OSL 01. Size 70x100 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum.

Dissolved Tokyo 01. Size 70x100 cm. Dissolved San Fransisco 01. Size 100x150 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum. Dissolved Tokyo 01. Size 70x100 cm. Dissolved San Fransisco 01. Size 100x150 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum.

Dissolved Tokyo 01. Size 70x100 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum. Dissolved Tokyo 01. Size 70x100 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum.

Dissolved San Fransisco 01. Size 100x150 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum. Dissolved San Fransisco 01. Size 100x150 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum.

Delirious Metropol Pantheon 01. Size 100x150 cm. Digital print. OSL duo 02. Size 100x150 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum. Delirious Metropol Pantheon 01. Size 100x150 cm. Digital print. OSL duo 02. Size 100x150 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum.

OSL duo 02. Size 100x240 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum OSL duo 02. Size 100x240 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum

Delirious Rodeo Dr. 01. Delirious Rodeo Dr. 03. Size 70 x 100 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum. Delirious Rodeo Dr. 01. Delirious Rodeo Dr. 03. Size 70 x 100 cm. Photo on brushed aluminum.

From Left, Dissolved San Fransisco 01, Dissolved Tr.Heim 01, Dissolved Rodeo Dr. LA 01. Dissolved Rodeo Dr. LA 03. From Left, Dissolved San Fransisco 01, Dissolved Tr.Heim 01, Dissolved Rodeo Dr. LA 01. Dissolved Rodeo Dr. LA 03.

Dissolved OSL 01. 70x100 cm, photo on brushed aluminum. Dissolved Pantheon 01. 100x150 cm, photo digital print. Dissolved OSL 01. 70x100 cm, photo on brushed aluminum. Dissolved Pantheon 01. 100x150 cm, photo digital print.

Photo: Susann Jamtøy Photo: Susann Jamtøy

Open Space i Trondhjems Kunstforening 2019

Open Space in Trondheim Art Society, Norway
Title: The space between us

Open Space Artist Group: Lisa Pacini, Christine Istad, Mona K. Lalim and Hennie Ann Isdahl
Medium: Painting, photography, sculpture, object and video



The original nature of colours is that of a dreamlike tone, a light-induced music. The moment I form thoughts, concepts and phrases about colours, their scent dissolves, and I hold on to only their material bodies.
– Johannes Itten, 1961


At a time when issues concerning architectural qualities, urban space and the lack of colour are frequently discussed, Trondhjems Kunstforening invites the Open Space group through its purple doors to take over its exhibition space. The four individual voices of Lisa Pacini, Hennie Ann Isdahl, Mona K. Lalim, and Christine Istad unite in a collective study of spatial constructions, perceptual, psychological effects and the expressive power of colours. The four of them, together with the exhibition space, constitute the quintessence, this ether that allows us to perceive colours, light and space. In his time, colour theorist and Bauhaus teacher Johannes Itten told his students that "Knowledge of the rules of the form should not be a prison, but rather a liberation from uncertainty and unclear sensations." In the exhibition, spatial constructions and dialogues are intersected with each artist's distinctive expression, in an example of the liberation Itten articulates.
In Japanese philosophy and pictorial tradition, the empty space is filled with invisible structures, and the Japanese word for a person is ningen, the last word (gen) meaning in-between. The group's collective spiritual quest is sensed in their perception of space and how the structures of the artworks tie each artist to the space between them. Itten was known for his inquisitive and exploratory philosophy; today, one would call this approach to the world phenomenological. In his search to understand what one is painting, he turned to the Japanese art form of Sumi-e. In this tradition, sensing the flower's root, as much as the flower itself, is required in order for the artist to reproduce it (p. 94). This spiritual aspect unites the four artists, and a continuum of ongoing explorations of spatial constructions and the counterpoints of colour is characteristic of their work previously exhibited in Zoellner Arts Center, PA, USA, Nord-Trøndelag Kunstmuseum, Tromsø and Bryne Kunstforening. The exhibition includes techniques such as painting, photography, sculpture, object and video.

In 2020, an exhibition with Open Space is to open in the museum FUNDAÇÃO D. LUÍS in Cascais, Portugal.

Text: Art historian, Benedicte Sunde

Johannes Itten, Farvekunsten og dens elementer, 1995 norsk utgave Forsythia, side 8

[ii] Ibid, side 8

[iii] Yoshimasa Kaneko, Japanese Painting and Johannes Itten’s art Education, side 95, The Journal of Aesthetic Education, Volume 37, Number 4, Winther 2003, pp. 93-101. Published by University of Illinois Press

Photo: Susann Jamtøy Photo: Susann Jamtøy

Photo: Susann Jamtøy Photo: Susann Jamtøy

Lisa Pacini, Hennie Ann Isdahl. Art photo by Christine Istad. Photo Susann Jamtøy. Lisa Pacini, Hennie Ann Isdahl. Art photo by Christine Istad. Photo Susann Jamtøy.

Painting by Lalim, photo by Istad and sculpture by Pacini Painting by Lalim, photo by Istad and sculpture by Pacini

Photo by Istad, sculpture by Pacini, painting by Lalim and painting by Isdahl. Photo by Istad, sculpture by Pacini, painting by Lalim and painting by Isdahl.

Lisa Pacini og Hennie Ann Isdahl Lisa Pacini og Hennie Ann Isdahl

Dissolved Japan #02,art photo on textile by Christine Istad. Midnight Blue, wall sculpture by Hennie Ann Isdahl. Photo Istad Art. Dissolved Japan #02,art photo on textile by Christine Istad. Midnight Blue, wall sculpture by Hennie Ann Isdahl. Photo Istad Art.

Open Space in Bryne Art Society

A thorough and complete exhibition

Four artists explore the boundaries between abstract and specific space. And they do it well.

Anne Therese Tveita, Stavanger Aftenblad 3.4.2018

Bryne Kunstforening: Open Space. Hennie Ann Isdahl, painting and sculpture. Mona K. Lalim, painting. Christine Istad, photography. Lisa Pacini, sculpture. Four separate and distinctive art practices constitute the Open Space artist collective. At Bryne Kunstforening, their group show appears to have emerged from one single thought.

A clear common denominator
Together, the four artists Hennie Ann Isdahl, Lisa Pacini, Mona K. Lalim and Christine Istad, have created an exhibition with a clear common denominator: they are relating to the architectural space that comprises Bryne's old mill in a reciprocal intervention. Through material and sculptural qualities, color, air and light, as well as an almost intuitive conceptual approach, the artists are exploring and testing the boundaries between constructed and abstract space. Representing four different art practices based in painting, photo, installation and sculpture, the collective’s explorations are playful and effortless. Each exhibited work touches upon elements in the next, in this comprehensive and complete group show.

Hennie Ann Isdahl's minimalist sculpture, "Open Gate", literally provides a frame for the show; a large geometric aluminum frame standing firmly on its welded iron feet. In glowing orange and white, the abstract structure reflects the concrete exhibition space. The sculpture’s shape and color, and the space it creates, challenges the boundaries of two-dimensionality and three-dimensionality, appearing as a fusion between a painting's surface/frame and architecture.

Vulnerable, random
In the far end of the exhibition space is "Gates", another work by Isdahl, appearing as a close relative to the previous sculpture. The work consists of three similarly large square aluminum frames, painted in a monochrome blue. The frames support each other in an apparently random and vulnerable structure that threatens to fall apart at any moment.
Isdahl has deconstructed the exhibition space to the extent that empty space makes up its largest component.

Deconstruction
Deconstruction appears as a recurring theme in the show. Such as in Lisa Pacini's sculpture «Soft Labyrinth». In her work, Pacini will often deconstruct classical architecture and recreate ancient, architectural shapes in sculptural works. "Soft Labyrinth" is evoking the shape of Casa del Labirinto known from the ruins of Pompeii. Here, soft vinyl is cut according to strict principles, the outcome of this process appearing as two works, one negative and one positive shape. In her oil paintings, Mona Lalim is demonstrating her own approach to the exhibition space. The abstract composite painting "Balcone" is the product of an exciting work process. In a reverse archaeological reconstruction, Lalim is exploring classical oil painting through the qualities of the oil paint itself. Working backwards through the layers, her work is unearthing memories of architectural structures and formal elements, fragments of what used to be. In this way, even time gets to play a role.

Beautiful photos
Christine Istad's beautiful abstract photographs of everyday objects and events are rooting the theme of the exhibition. In Istad’s practice, time, light and colors surrounding us are captured and concretized, as exemplified in the works Sliding doors #7 and Sliding doors #3.

All exhibited works are relating to each as well as the exhibition space surrounding them. The structures and lines are reflecting elements of the room, in addition to the aura of the art works and their essences. Thus there are a number of exciting dialogues in the show, dialogues that the viewer, too, partakes in through her mere presence.

Art critic by Anne Therese Tveit, Stavanger Aftenblad Art critic by Anne Therese Tveit, Stavanger Aftenblad

Chicago #10. 107x255 cm Chicago #10. 107x255 cm

SKYLIFE

Galleri Semmingsen

Text by Mette Irene Dahl.
Photography as an art form is many things. It can be documentary, social commentary, it can be studies of nature, portraiture and…poetry. Ever since camera’s early days, photography has been seen as a mechanical recording device: at an early meeting of the Photographic Society of London, which was established in 1853, one member complained that this new technique was «too literal» to «elevate the imagination» and therefore could not compete with art. It is, however, today generally accepted that photography is also an art form and can be and often is more than just a recording of the physical world. But can it be painting? Can it rival painting in any form?

Christine Istad’s large photographs printed on aluminum canvases certainly can. She uses her camera to search for shapes, forms, colors and patterns. She uses her eye and her camera, that mechanical recording device, to capture the repeating patterns and subtle colors of modern urban architecture. She captures and contrasts the fleeting movement of feathery clouds against the hard angular surfaces of glass and steel and suggests the power of Nature by portraying these elusive clouds’ dissolving of a man made structure. She catches the rippling play of water within the rigid repetitive lines of modern window panes. She portraits broken columns of lights, hinting at water mirrored perhaps on a concrete floor.

Norwegian artists have since the early 1800’s painted Nature and examined natural lights and the continually changing weather. Christine joins generations of artists in her venture, but she uses her camera instead of brushes and paint. The impressionists painted the light. Christine photographs it. She brings her art into our age by fusing urban high tech symbols with nature elements. Every picture is a piece of poetry that plays with light, water, waves and clouds against man made materials and structures. The organic and the soft, the rural, melts together with the urban technological achievements of modern architecture. She uses the buildings’ own lines to draw up patterns that borders on the abstract and her choice of aluminum canvases add a tactile and almost sensual aspect to her pictures that can rival the viewer’s impression of traditional paintings with their paint layers and brush strokes. Christine’s pictures are both photographs and paintings in appearance, both abstract and figurative in form, both traditional and modern in expression.

Support by Ingrid Lindbäck Langaards Stiftelse

Chicago #01 og Miami #01. 100x150 cm Chicago #01 og Miami #01. 100x150 cm

New York #10. 107x255 cm.<br />
A picture opens up<br />
Elise Schonhowd, artist<br />
May 2017<br />
When a picture takes shape, and becomes a new work of art, it involves both processes the artist was conscious of already and others that are discovered along the way. Those who encounter the piece for the first time when it is displayed on a wall, experience the same thing. Capturing a moment in time on camera is the point of departure for something that does more than merely reflect the subject of the picture, in this case a modern building. The motif may have presented itself, so to speak, if one ventures to personalise the processes on both ends a bit.  A series of events occurs when a motif catches someone’s attention, first the photographer’s and then later, after many stages, the attention of people who visit the gallery. The image is seen from a distance, large. The bottom part gleams. The vibrant surface of the brushed aluminium is infused with a quality that could initially perhaps be described as slightly dry denim. A moving level appears and draws the audience closer in a natural manner. The picture follows the observer’s movements as the light changes. It hangs there on the wall, narrow and elegant, and gives an immediate impression of orderly structure. Some may perceive it as totally abstract. You see lines, you see vertical surfaces, repeating sections and perhaps the experience at this point triggers associations to minimalistic music. This is because of the repetition. Or because? Why because? Does using the word mean that you subsequently discover you have only seen a tiny portion, because there is also a lot to be seen within the surface? A closer look reveals a vibrant exchange, a meeting between the material at the bottom and the fluid-looking pattern above. At this point the experience can be almost confusing, because even though the eye picks up on the first thing that is at odds with the solidity of the architecture – it takes a while before you realise that you what you are seeing is the water’s reflection in the windows – none of the windows are alike. You can spend a brief eternity observing and taking pleasure in the many variations. And then you may find yourself feeling like everything is a wave, a flow, and experience that physically. There is something that goes beyond what can be seen by the eye. The floor blurs. The experiences linked to body, water and time evoke memories of the artist Bill Viola’s work: films which are played so slowly that the water turns to time, and bodies appear to encompass a light most easily imagined in the air. Now the picture on the wall is slowly beginning to reveal itself…. It moves in two directions at the same time. In towards the observer and farther into the picture, further into the building along with the moving light that is reflected by the water. We are in a big city, but right now the water, the natural element, is dominant. The picture is speaking a language the body senses, and perceives as timeless from the moment when it moves from the cold architecture to the living inner core where the people are.  The sky is in the water. The wind is in the water. The boats sailing past evoke images we recognise. Suddenly, it is not a picture we are looking at, but something we remember. Our eye is caught by how everything is flooded by brilliant morning light that makes it all stand out clearly. This aspect of the experience reveals new details all over the picture. Something soft breaks up the rigid sections. We realise that it is textiles and then see with increasing clarity they are curtains in what now turns out to be a hotel with stories to tell about lives that are lived in parallel with ours. Rooms without permanent inhabitants, box-like shelters that witness many aspects of the lives that unfold in the hours and days the rooms are occupied by people - either alone or with someone. Getting away from home, withdrawing from something discomforting, exposure in anonymous surroundings, expectations of the many things the city has to offer, or sheer weariness from the hustle and bustle of a hectic working life are some of the reasons why people stay in the rooms for a little while. The curtain opens up the picture for the observer. The multitude of different stories that are given a voice, can come as a surprise after one has gotten used to a relaxed visual experience. Suddenly there is a little change of pace, because the curtain that partially hides a bed, draws our thoughts towards night. Towards the body. Towards human skin. It stands there – unmade. Someone will come. Someone will clean and tidy. But here are the traces of the person that lay there. Alone or together with someone. And that is when you may feel that you have seen this before in other places at other times. Maybe you will think of the old masters, like the painter, Giotto, whose works behind and above the altar in church may have been your first meeting with art. You remember seeing the images at the bottom that generally illustrate everyday life, lives and stories that are distant from the tranquil repose promised by the light in the upper portions of the murals. So, you stand there, experiencing the inner depths and the surface at the same time. With skin. And light on smooth shining surfaces. That is when you feel that the picture has just barely begun to reveal itself. That is how I remember the picture that I saw exhibited in Gjøvik, Norway April 2017. New York #10. 107x255 cm.
A picture opens up
Elise Schonhowd, artist
May 2017
When a picture takes shape, and becomes a new work of art, it involves both processes the artist was conscious of already and others that are discovered along the way. Those who encounter the piece for the first time when it is displayed on a wall, experience the same thing. Capturing a moment in time on camera is the point of departure for something that does more than merely reflect the subject of the picture, in this case a modern building. The motif may have presented itself, so to speak, if one ventures to personalise the processes on both ends a bit. A series of events occurs when a motif catches someone’s attention, first the photographer’s and then later, after many stages, the attention of people who visit the gallery. The image is seen from a distance, large. The bottom part gleams. The vibrant surface of the brushed aluminium is infused with a quality that could initially perhaps be described as slightly dry denim. A moving level appears and draws the audience closer in a natural manner. The picture follows the observer’s movements as the light changes. It hangs there on the wall, narrow and elegant, and gives an immediate impression of orderly structure. Some may perceive it as totally abstract. You see lines, you see vertical surfaces, repeating sections and perhaps the experience at this point triggers associations to minimalistic music. This is because of the repetition. Or because? Why because? Does using the word mean that you subsequently discover you have only seen a tiny portion, because there is also a lot to be seen within the surface? A closer look reveals a vibrant exchange, a meeting between the material at the bottom and the fluid-looking pattern above. At this point the experience can be almost confusing, because even though the eye picks up on the first thing that is at odds with the solidity of the architecture – it takes a while before you realise that you what you are seeing is the water’s reflection in the windows – none of the windows are alike. You can spend a brief eternity observing and taking pleasure in the many variations. And then you may find yourself feeling like everything is a wave, a flow, and experience that physically. There is something that goes beyond what can be seen by the eye. The floor blurs. The experiences linked to body, water and time evoke memories of the artist Bill Viola’s work: films which are played so slowly that the water turns to time, and bodies appear to encompass a light most easily imagined in the air. Now the picture on the wall is slowly beginning to reveal itself…. It moves in two directions at the same time. In towards the observer and farther into the picture, further into the building along with the moving light that is reflected by the water. We are in a big city, but right now the water, the natural element, is dominant. The picture is speaking a language the body senses, and perceives as timeless from the moment when it moves from the cold architecture to the living inner core where the people are. The sky is in the water. The wind is in the water. The boats sailing past evoke images we recognise. Suddenly, it is not a picture we are looking at, but something we remember. Our eye is caught by how everything is flooded by brilliant morning light that makes it all stand out clearly. This aspect of the experience reveals new details all over the picture. Something soft breaks up the rigid sections. We realise that it is textiles and then see with increasing clarity they are curtains in what now turns out to be a hotel with stories to tell about lives that are lived in parallel with ours. Rooms without permanent inhabitants, box-like shelters that witness many aspects of the lives that unfold in the hours and days the rooms are occupied by people - either alone or with someone. Getting away from home, withdrawing from something discomforting, exposure in anonymous surroundings, expectations of the many things the city has to offer, or sheer weariness from the hustle and bustle of a hectic working life are some of the reasons why people stay in the rooms for a little while. The curtain opens up the picture for the observer. The multitude of different stories that are given a voice, can come as a surprise after one has gotten used to a relaxed visual experience. Suddenly there is a little change of pace, because the curtain that partially hides a bed, draws our thoughts towards night. Towards the body. Towards human skin. It stands there – unmade. Someone will come. Someone will clean and tidy. But here are the traces of the person that lay there. Alone or together with someone. And that is when you may feel that you have seen this before in other places at other times. Maybe you will think of the old masters, like the painter, Giotto, whose works behind and above the altar in church may have been your first meeting with art. You remember seeing the images at the bottom that generally illustrate everyday life, lives and stories that are distant from the tranquil repose promised by the light in the upper portions of the murals. So, you stand there, experiencing the inner depths and the surface at the same time. With skin. And light on smooth shining surfaces. That is when you feel that the picture has just barely begun to reveal itself. That is how I remember the picture that I saw exhibited in Gjøvik, Norway April 2017.

Chicago #02. 100x150 cm Chicago #02. 100x150 cm

Chicago #04. 100x150 cm. Svart/hvitt fotografier i str 30x40 cm. Chicago #04. 100x150 cm. Svart/hvitt fotografier i str 30x40 cm.

Chicago #02, Chicago #06 og New York #05. 100x150 cm Chicago #02, Chicago #06 og New York #05. 100x150 cm

Chicago #10. 107x255 cm. Chicago #10. 107x255 cm.

Åpningstale av kunsthistoriker Benedicte Sunde Åpningstale av kunsthistoriker Benedicte Sunde

New York #10 and the video: The Dragon Fly. A dragon fly captured on the street in Chicago. A young woman picks up the dragon fly with her hand. New York #10 and the video: The Dragon Fly. A dragon fly captured on the street in Chicago. A young woman picks up the dragon fly with her hand.

Video: The Fountainhead. Chicago 2017. Gail Wynand: Video: The Fountainhead. Chicago 2017. Gail Wynand: "Then he looked up, across the city, to the shapes of the great skyscrapers. He saw a string of lights rising unsupported in black space, a glowing pinnacle anchored to nothing, a small, brilliant square hanging detached in the sky. He knew the famous buildings to which these belonged, he could reconstruct their forms in space. He thought, you´re my judges and witnesses. You rise, unhindered, above the sagging roofs. You shoot your gracious tension to the stars, out of slack, the tired, the accidental. The eyes one mile out on the ocean will see none of this and none of this matter, but you will be the presence and the city. As down the centuries, a few men stand in lonely recited that we may look and say, there is a human race behind us. One can´t escape from you; the streets change, but one looks up and there you stand, unchanged. You have seen me walking through the streets tonight. You have seen all my steps and all my tears. It´s you that I´ve betrayed. For I was born to be one of you".

Chicago #04, photo 100x150 cm on brushed aluminum Chicago #04, photo 100x150 cm on brushed aluminum

INTERCONNECTIONS

Solo show at Gallery Svae, Gjøvik, Norge.

The detail in the big picture

Oppland Arbeiderblad, 29 April 2017
Text by Tanja E. Caldecourt

Christine Istad does not manipulate her photographs, nor does she even call herself a photographer. Istad is a visual artist. The photographs are painting-like and she manipulates the viewer more than pictures. In a way, she even changes the subject.

Changing view
Gallerist Hilde Svae has followed the artist, Istad, for years. The first paintings she exhibited were subsequently purchased by Gjøvik VGS (Gjøvik secondary school).
“I still think like a painter,” says Istad today. In this exhibit, she uses brushed aluminium instead of photo paper. Elements that would otherwise have been white thus have a more dynamic appearance depending on how the light plays across the surface.

Motivated motifs
So, what are we really seeing? What is the subject? Istad tells you very little about that. All you can do is guess. She tells us where the pictures were taken: in metropolises like New York and Hong Kong. But it is up to each person to see. She is fascinated by architecture, glass and reflections, the urban and the monumental. Even so, she is not just showing us the city and its buildings. Istad turns what is probably the outer wall of a hotel building into an abstract and mystical world. The stringent forms and straight lines seem to play with what is and what we create ourselves. There are optical illusions – or not.

Aesthetic and intellectual
A video plays on a tiny screen mounted on the wall in Svae’s. We are told that it was taken in a business district in Hong Kong. A man is doing Tai Chi. A woman paces back and forth, talking on a mobile phone. Water flows in the fountain in the background. Cars drive past. One frame. Many bubbles of life. All the individuals are caught up in their own worlds and are not interacting with the outside world. The video becomes a sort of philosophical exercise. It is one thing to appreciate the intellectual contribution but what about the aesthetic aspect? Istad’s pictures are decidedly beautiful, too. Using brushed aluminium as the background is brilliant. It adds something extra to the motifs and makes them surprisingly “alive” and substantial.

The moments
We do not see what Istad saw as she trudged around in the urban jungle looking for things to shoot – in the photographic sense. We see what was captured by her inner zoom. She gets us to look more closely at things we would normally have walked right past. We would not even have noticed them if she had not pointed them out to us. The small detail on the tall building in the enormous city.
“Art should make the moment greater,” said artist and friend Elise Schonhowd, and that is a good way to sum it up.

Neon Purple, size 70x200 cm, photo on brushed aluminum Neon Purple, size 70x200 cm, photo on brushed aluminum

Art Critic Art Critic

Tromsø Art Hall 2012-13. Photo by J. M. Johnsen Tromsø Art Hall 2012-13. Photo by J. M. Johnsen

TRAVELING SUN

A road trip and a site-spesific art project by Lisa Pacini & Christine Istad, 2012- 2016

Our aim with our art project is to bring light to the dark winter months in the north, meet people and share with the rest of the world the beauty of the unspoiled nature that is to be found in all of the Nordic countries. 

Distance: Oslo-Tromsø-Kirkenes-Bergen-London-Rjukan-Oslo-Reykjavik-Mo i Rana = 12.755 km (7926 miles).

Traveling SUN is a circular light sculpture, 3 m in diameter, that shifts between a wide range of warm colors. To make the road trip, it was suspended above a flatbed trailer that was pulled by a flat bed truck. The generator that powers the SUN is in the back of the truck, allowing us to drive with the light on all the time. Supported by Oslo Liftutleie.

Read more

Rjukan Culture House 2013-14. Photo Istad Pacini Rjukan Culture House 2013-14. Photo Istad Pacini

Henie Onstad Art Center 2013-14. Photo Istad Pacini Henie Onstad Art Center 2013-14. Photo Istad Pacini

Nordic House Iceland 2015. Photo IstadPacini Nordic House Iceland 2015. Photo IstadPacini

National Library in Mo i Rana. Purchased by KORO in 2016 National Library in Mo i Rana. Purchased by KORO in 2016

Traveling SUN was suspended on a henger. Support by Oslo Liftutleie Traveling SUN was suspended on a henger. Support by Oslo Liftutleie

Everything Else is Too Narrow

Bærum Kunsthall 
October 13th – 30th, 2016

Anne Katrine Senstad, Christine Istad and Anna Marit Staurset

Curated by Sarah Walko

Bærum Kunsthall, Fornebu, Norway
http://www.baerumkunsthall.no

Everything Else is too Narrow brings together the work of three contemporary Norwegian artists. The title is derived from a poem titled All Things by Hadewijch of Brabant (or sometimes called Hadewijch of Antwerp) who lived in the 13th century in what is now Belgium and she is often referred to as one of the greatest names in medieval Flemish and Dutch literature. The poem begins with the lines “All things are too small to hold me” and it was this tone that came to mind in relation to the works in this exhibition. Although the artists vary in mediums, processes and approaches there is a search, an act of uncovering the essence in form in each of the works. Each piece hovers somewhere in the process of becoming or decreation but also transcends temporal cycles of birth and decay. They instead are like suspended threshold occasions, revealing a visual process of when something moves away from one thing to become another. The ancient Greek word poïesis is the root of our modern word "poetry" however it was first a verb. It was an action. The action referred to anything that transforms and continues the world, but not in technical production or in a romantic sense. It referred to an action that reconciles thought with matter and the individual person in time. The works carry this tone of both reconciliation and awe. They seem to strive not to generate meaning, but rather to simply reveal the meanings that are already there.

Christine Istad uses the camera to pull out patterns and elemental structures from her surroundings. All pieces in this exhibition are large format printed on brushed aluminum and are in-depth studies of small fragments of reality. In her work she is striving for a sense of interconnection; how things relate to each other and how they fit together. She focuses on architectural structures, however the architecture is often only sensed and she pulls out the abstraction from the concrete forms. In her process she is interested in discovering, the discovery of a motif or something surprising or noteworthy in the surroundings. Her photographs are never manipulated; they are taken as they are seen. Istad’s broader focus is on the relationship between humans and modern society. Franz Kafka wrote about what many have termed “modern man’s cosmic predicament”, the struggle of the individual within cities during his time. Istad’s work elicits a similar investigation with the themes of finding beauty and space for contemplation within alienation and searching for a place and transformation within present day architectures and super cities. She presents these slivers of space in a way that evokes an element of surprise and in doing so creates a perceptual shift ushering in a recognition that things, in fact, are not exactly as they seem and solid, stable structures can be windows into new narratives and new spaces.

The photographic work of Anne Senstad is a series titled Sonoptic Parallels and it is informed by an understanding of an amalgamation of sensations – sound, color, light and optical phenomena. She is parsing out how sound and color inhabit space so differently despite many scientific and experiential similarities. Senstad’s work also often has a close relationship with architectural structures but she adds a poetic element, creating a world that envelopes the subconscious and subliminal. Her photographic Universal Foldouts are extensions of this exploration however they also contain a kind of rational flattening of these concepts, similar to breaking things down to laws of physics and zero’s and one’s. But in doing so, the work presents the ideas that consciousness and emotions cannot be captured by theories at all because they are subjective experiences and even how describing what happens in your body while it experiences an emotion doesn't tell you what the subjective experience is. Senstad's video installation is the 7th in a series she began in 2009 and has been shown worldwide as various forms of immersive installations. it is titled Colour Synesthesia VII and is a 25.30 minute loop. The sound is the electric harpsicord by Catherine Christer Hennix recorded live in 1976 at the Museum of Modern Art Stockholm. All of her work deals with perception — how what we see, including the colors around us, shapes how we feel. The stimuli are objective but the experiences are subjective, mirroring ourselves, our brains, and our psyches. Senstad’s work follows this complex investigation of what is physical versus what is psychological, and where these lines blur. It does so generously, seeing truth on both ends of the spectrum and at many points in between.

In the work of Anna Marit Staurset part of the search and interest is the deterioration of materials. Every piece of collage has its own history and they come together into an expanded history, like sections of a quilt. In this way the material is stripped of its original meaning and given a new life, like stories that are told and shared. There is a strong element of neutralizing the past through these physical sediments of time and layers of multiple histories. She transforms them to convey new meanings. This act creates a cultural catharsis in the pieces and an element of reclamation. The material is mainly paper but becomes sculptural with a very tactile surface. She focuses on the patterns of life, death, and decay revealing an essence of what remains after a lived life and a cyclical return to begin anew. Her use of materials contains a paradox in itself for applying the burden of history to a light material and this aspect of the work aids in the transformation from cultural weight to transcendence and release. In relation to the title in the poem, the works have a tone of solitude in their differing investigations on the relationship between self and states of being. This tone is a true solitude, solitude as a struggle against alienation, as deep witness and response. The response seems to be an awareness of or need to break things down to their essence in a time of over complication and countless distractions. This solitude is not the same as withdrawal, which has negative connotations. It is an awareness that does not hold the world at arms length but rather walks us right into it and is expressed by entering into the world fully through these immersive and sensorial works.

All things

by Hadewijch

English version by Jane Hirshfield

All things
are too small
to hold me,
I am so vast

In the Infinite
I reach
for the Uncreated

I have
touched it,
it undoes me
wider than wide

Everything else
is too narrow

You know this well,
you who are also there


Sarah Walko is a curator, director, visual artist and writer. She is currently the Director of Arts Programing at Marble House Project, a nonprofit arts organization in New York City and Dorset, Vermont. Recent curatorial projects include Decomposing Hierarchies, Manhattan Bridge Anchorage, NY 2015, The World and its Things in the Middle of Their Intimacy, Fridman Gallery, NY and A Cage Went in Search of a Bird at Radiator Gallery, NY. She also writes for the contemporary art blogs and journals Hyperallergic, Eyes Towards the Dove and Drain Magazine Journal of Art and Culture.

Made in Hong Kong

Gallery Semmingsen
Oslo, Norway 2014

This exhibition presents Christine Istad's latest photographs and video works, which all derive from her long study trip to Hong Kong this year. The themes of the works focus on the contrasts currently found in some of Asia's most modern and innovative metropolises, where tradition and technology are thrown into sharp relief.

Istad's close-up photographic studies of Hong Kong's towering architecture and densely packed urbanity implicitly reveal her interest in investigating mankind's capacity to confront and adapt to alienation. What happens to inherited traditions and fundamental values when high technology and efficiency become the defining powers in our lives? And how is the balance between man and nature maintained when the individual is increasingly defined as a "mechanical figure"?

The contrasts between modern trends and traditions are also reflected in Istad's choice of technique. While the photographs refer to momentary incidents occurring in hypermodern and hectic city life, several of the video works are a harmonious counterbalance to this by depicting for example Tai Chi concentration exercises, symbolising the close contact between body and mind.

The exhibition comprises eight large-format C-print* photographs on aluminium and three new video works. Both the photographs and the video works are analogue and refer to the real time and place in which they were taken. The motifs are not manipulated, yet appear abstract in form due to their detailed sections and optical effects.

*Colour photographic print which has at least three emulsion layers of light-sensitive silver salts.
Hong Kong - Wan Chai from Istad Art on Vimeo.


INSIGHT OUTSIGHT

Fotografi og video

Kunstgalleriet I Stavanger 2014

Det formale, det sanselige, abstraksjon, det serielle, arkitektur og lysets virkninger står sentralt i måten Istad jobber med fotografiet på. Hun undersøker lysets virkninger og de dybdeskapende mulighetene lyset bærer med seg. Knyttet til lyset ligger hennes interesse for arkitektur og romskapende elementer. Bildene er kun delvis skarpe og det bidrar til å skape den perseptuelle utfordringen, der øyet må trenge inn i billedrommet gjennom stramme vertikale, horisontale og diagonale strukturer.

© Istad Art 2014, 03:39. Sound by Bendik O. Storbekken
SYNOPSIS: Video based on a series of photographs shoot from the inside of aluminium pipes inside Palazzo Falier,Venice Italy.


From left: From left: "White superficial" by Hennie Ann Isdahl, "Light & Dark", video by Christine Istad and "Mirror to mirror" by Lisa Pacini

Open Space - Exit In

Tromsø Kunstforening, Tromsø Norway

16. november 2012 – 6. januar 2013

Vi byr på to vidt forskjellige utstillinger som omhandler både lys og mørke i materiell og menneskelig form. Kunstnergruppen Open Space lyser opp mørketiden ved å plassere en stor sol utenpå Kunstforeningens fasade som en del av utstillingen Exit In, mens Mattias Härenstam viser en personlig beretning om menneskesinnets skjøre balanse i utstillingen "Frykten for å mislykkes".

Kunstnergruppen Open Space består av Christine Istad, Hennie-Ann Isdahl, Mona K. Lalim og Lisa Pacini. De fire kunstnerne arbeider i ulike teknikker som de forener i en stor utstilling av malerier, skulpturer og installasjoner spesielt laget for Tromsø Kunstforening. I utstillingen som de har kalt Exit In, utforsker de rommene både utenfor og inne i bygningen. Den tre meter store solen på kunstforeningens fasade skal lyse døgnet rundt og kan ses fra lang avstand, mens utstillingen inne i gallerirommene utdyper temaene rom, sted, temperatur, og farger.

I forlengelsen av utstillingen Exit In viser Istad/Pacini videoen Identity som projiseres på vinduet i Verdensteateret kafé. Denne visningen åpner lørdag 17. november.

Om Open Space:
Christine Istad, Hennie-Ann Isdahl, Mona K. Lalim og Lisa Pacini har samarbeidet siden 2010. De fire kunstnerne arbeider i ulike teknikker men har til felles interessen for farge, rom og det stedsspesifikke. Prosjektene deres har alltid en sterk forankring i det aktuelle visningsrommet, noe som gjør resultatet unikt hver gang. Open Space stilte ut ved det prestisjefylte Lehigh University Art Galleries i Pennsylvania i 2011 og ved Nord-Trøndelag Fylkesgalleri, Namsos 2012, og i 2013 skal de ha nok en utstilling i Maas Gallery i Purchase New York.

Sun to Tromsø
http://www.artubeart.blogspot.no

From left: From left: "Spor av tid" by Mona K. Lalim, Untitled Squares I-II by Hennie Ann Isdahl

"Walls of Tromsø" by Christine Istad and "Radar" by Lisa Pacini

"Light without shadow" and "Recycled Space Junk" by Lisa Pacini

"Sun to Tromsø" by Christine Istad and Lisa Pacini

"Spectra Emotion" videoinstallation by Christine Istad, Lisa Pacini and sound by Erik Wøllo

Open Space “ROMMET iMELLOM”

Nord-Trøndelag Fylkesgalleri, Namsos 2012
CHRISTINE ISTAD – LISA PACINI – HENNIE ANN ISDAHL – MONA K. LALIM

Nord-Trøndelag Fylkesgalleri er stolte av å kunne invitere til utstillingen "Rommet imellom" av kunstgruppen Open Space for første gang i Nord-Trøndelag. Open Space består av kunstnerkvartetten Hennie Ann Isdahl (N), Lisa Pacini (US), Christine Istad (N) og Mona K. Lalim (N). Gruppen har arbeidet sammen siden 2010 og hadde sin første utstilling mars 2011 i Zoellner Main Gallery i Pennsylvania, USA. Det er en videre føring av utstillingsprosjektet I Pennsylvania som nå presenteres i Nord-Trøndelag Fylkesgalleri (Namsos).

Open Space arbeider ut i fra en dynamisk og interaktiv arbeidsmetode hvor utstillingen og enkelte av verkene utformes underveis i dialog med de ulike rom og de enkeltes kunstneriske uttrykk. Gruppen har vært på besøk i galleriet som et forstudie i den kunstneriske prosessen hvor rom og struktur nøye ble studert. Vi får nå møte det endelige resultat hvor gruppen har konstruert med utgangspunkt i sine ulike formspråk og varierte materialbruk rammene for utstillingen Rommet imellom. Publikum inviteres inn i et univers bestående av massive installasjoner av ulik karakter. Noen av kunstverkene som møter oss er monumentale geometriske veggarbeider, malerier, gulvobjekter og videoprojeksjoner, samt spektrale fargerom, som innbyder til en interaktiv fargeopplevelse. Publikum får oppleve et kunstnerisk landskap med spennende koblinger mellom figurasjon og abstraksjon.

Utstillingsprosjektet skal videre fra Nord-Trøndelag Fylkesgalleri til Tromsø Kunstforening i november 2012, før turen går over Atlanteren til Maas Gallery i New York 2013.

Kunstgruppens medlemmer er godt etablerte kunstnere, og arbeider så vel hver for seg, som sammen.
De har alle fire kunstutdannelse fra både Norge og fra internasjonale læresteder. Lisa Pacini har sin utdannelse fra Statens Kunstakademi i Oslo og S.U.N.Y, New York. Hennie Ann Isdahl er utdannet fra Ecole National Superieure des Beaux-Arts i Paris og her hjemme fra Vestlandske Kunstakademi i Bergen. Christine Istad har vært elev ved bl.a. Parsons School of Design i New York. Mona K. Lalim er Cand Mag. UiO.

Mirror object by Lisa Pacini and Mirror object by Lisa Pacini and "Spectra Emotion" videoinstallation by Christine Istad, Lisa Pacini and sound by Erik Wøllo

Photography: Berlin #07, 110x160 cm by Christine Istad Photography: Berlin #07, 110x160 cm by Christine Istad

"Falls" video by Christine Istad and floor installation with water crystals by Lisa Pacini

Wall installation by Hennie Ann Isdahl and floor installation By Lisa Pacini Wall installation by Hennie Ann Isdahl and floor installation By Lisa Pacini

Photography by Christine Istad and installations by Hennie Ann Isdahl Photography by Christine Istad and installations by Hennie Ann Isdahl

OPEN SPACE in PA, USA 2011

CHRISTINE ISTAD – LISA PACINI – HENNIE ANN ISDAHL – MONA K. LALIM

Main Art Gallery, Zoellner Arts Center, PA, USA
March 19 – July 10, 2011
Main Art Gallery, Zoellner Arts Center

The converging fields between abstract and concrete are things and places around us that interface with compositional, color-related, textural or conceptual issues. The general is related to the specific and visa versa.

“Open Space”, an artist group comprised of Christine Istad, Hennie Ann Isdahl, Mona K. Lalim and Lisa Pacini create in different ways with a range of active relationships between detail and wholeness, function and surface. History and place become both archival and opportunistic. The group sets the stage for the exploration of the artist’s differing site-specific identities. Individual artists are not just from one place, but they carry their own experience and origins. In this sense, the “Open Space” group also is a medium for the manifestation and investigation of the combined space between Istad, Isdahl, Lalim and Pacini. In their new project, the interplay of colors creates the platform for further reflection on individual identity. “Open Space” is a dynamic workspace between the four artists, where the focus is the understanding of space as an ambivalent and mobile magnitude in a culturally-specific content.

The four artists are well established on the Norwegian contemporary art scene and are acknowledged with numbers of awards, grants and commissions. The exhibition, curated by Professor Ricardo Viera, Director/Curator, LUAG, has been made possible, thanks to generous support by NBK, Norwegian Visual Artists Association and The American Scandinavian Foundation.

Lehigh University Art Galleries/Museum Operation (LUAG) maintains and develops the university’s world-class teaching collection of over 11,000 objects, including an extensive selection of outdoor sculpture on three campuses. As part of its mission to inspire, promote and develop visual literacy and cultural understanding, LUAG operations as a visual laboratory, creating various settings for experimental learning where students and faculty have direct experiences with works of art. In addition, LUAG presents approximately 20 exhibitions per year in eight campus galleries, and acts as an in-situ alternative classroom for museum studies. http://www.luag.org

For more information: http://www.christine-istad.no - www.lisapacini.org - http://www.isdahl.info - www.lalim.no

Support: The American Scandinavian Foundation and NBK – Norwegian Visual Artists Association


Mirror pyramid by Lisa Pacini and painting by Hennie Ann Isdahl Mirror pyramid by Lisa Pacini and painting by Hennie Ann Isdahl

Photography by Christine Istad and painting by Mona K. Lalim Photography by Christine Istad and painting by Mona K. Lalim

Installation by Hennie Ann Isdahl and video installation Installation by Hennie Ann Isdahl and video installation "Spectra Emotion" by Christine Istad, Lisa Pacini and sound by Erik Wøllo

Video installation Video installation "Spectra Emotion" by Christine Istad, Lisa Pacini and sound by Erik Wøllo

SPEED PULSE/CITY PULSE

FOTO OG VIDEO AV CHRISTINE ISTAD
GALLERI TRAFO 18.09 – 17.10 2010

Christine Istad stiller ut i Galleri Trafo. Utstillingen, som vises i hele andre etasje, er hennes største separatutstilling så langt og rommer 16 foto- og 3 videoarbeider.

I Istads bilder registreres en opptatthet av lys, rom, bevegelse, perspektiv og relasjon mellom fargene. Disse stikkordene sto også sentralt for 60-tallets Op-kunst, og selv om uttrykksformen divergerer gjenkjennes flere av Victor Vasarelys (1908-97), den mest innflytelsesrike Op-kunstneren, også i Istads kunstneriske prosjekt. Vasarely var opptatt av å utvikle en kunst som kunne forstås og integreres i arkitektur og byplanlegging. Kunsten skulle være geometrisk, samt fylt av lys og farge. Kunstformen skulle aktivisere betrakter og gjøre denne til en aktiv deltager i kunsten – i forståelsen av å fullføre verket. Gjennom persepsjonen, altså blikket og den dertil hørende tanke, skulle betrakter aktiviseres til å reflektere omkring den illusjonistiske, nærmest virtuelle, fremstilling av naturen og virkeligheten.

Videoverkene formidler en meditativ og symboltung atmosfære som peker i retning av rituelle, religiøse og mytiske referanser. Det meditative element understrekes i flere av arbeidene i det en forventet bevegelsesdynamikk transformeres til stillestående observasjoner med minutiøst hendelsesforløp. På denne måten anvendes videomediet i betydning ”levende maleri”, der naturen og landskapets iboende kvaliteter fremheves som stillbilder til ettertanke.

De fleste fotografiene blir tatt på reiser med Nikon analogt speilreflekskamera og film. Fotografiene er ikke beskåret eller manipulert. Det er øyeblikkets kvalitet som er det essensielle. De store fotografiene er printet på C-print på ”archival photographic” materiale.

Christine Istad (f. 1963) er innkjøpt av en rekke samlinger, bl.a. KUBE Kunstmuseum. Hun ble Årets Kunst rett Vest kunstner og fikk Bærum Kommunes Kunstpris i 2009 og skal bl.a. stille ut i USA i PA og NY sammen med gruppen Open Space i 2011.

Utstillingen er støttet av Norsk Kulturråd

Madison Ave #01, photography 110x160 cm. Speed Pulse, video on two monitors; sound of the artists major artery. Madison Ave #01, photography 110x160 cm. Speed Pulse, video on two monitors; sound of the artists major artery.

Station #01 and Madison Ave #02, photography 110x160 cm Station #01 and Madison Ave #02, photography 110x160 cm

Bethlehem #01, photography 110x160 cm. Bethlehem #01, photography 110x160 cm.

Tokyo #01, photography 110x160 cm. Tokyo #01, photography 110x160 cm.

Sound Installation Sound Installation

Kunstmuseet KUBE

Something Between

9. juli til 20. september 2009

Photography, video and sound installations

Istad mainly works with photography, but has also worked with video and sound. Her artistic profile (expression) shows that she is occupied by light, colour, space and movement, as well as the optical coherence or contrast between these dimensions. Istad in many ways applies an optic language whereby she creates images of optical space, where parts of the motive may represent recognizable elements, whereas others may appear veiled or even obscured.

The exhibition "Something Between" carries a flair of mysticism from The Far East, which represented a central element in giving atmosphere to the exhibited works. Istad has made numerous study tours, among others, to China, Israel and Spain. Her many visits to Japan is apparent from some of the titles of the exhibited works, details from Japanese urban life, history and culture. "Something between" comprises works of photo, video and sound installation.

Istad arbeider i hovedsak med foto som medie, men har også arbeider innenfor video og lyd. Kunstuttrykket hennes viser at hun er opptatt av lys, farge, rom og bevegelse, samt disse elementenes optiske samhørighet eller kontrast til hverandre. Istad har på mange måter et poetisk formspråk hvor hun skaper optiske billedrom hvor deler av motivet kan være gjenkjennelige elementer for betrakteren, mens andre partier kan oppfattes tilsløret eller nærmest tåkebelagt.

Utstillingen Something Between bærer preg av Østens mystikk som blir et stemningsbærende element i de utstilte verkene. Istad har hatt flere studiereiser som blant annet til Kina, Israel og Spania. I tillegg har hun de senere årene vært flere ganger i Japan. Noe vi kan se ut fra flere av titlene på de utstilte verkene, som japanske bynavn, eller utsnitt av japansk byliv, historie og kultur. Utstillingen Something Between er bygget opp av ulike arbeid innenfor foto, video og lydinstallasjon.

www.kunstmuseetkube.no

Sound Installation<br />
1) 5:58 min. sound from the pilgrimage walk November 2008<br />
2) 6:43 min. sound from monks chanting October 2006<br />
3) 15:42 min. sound from Hiroshima around The Atomic Bomb Dome April 2007<br />
4) 7:13 min. sound from a walk at Fushimi Inari Shrine, Koyoto October 2006 Sound Installation
1) 5:58 min. sound from the pilgrimage walk November 2008
2) 6:43 min. sound from monks chanting October 2006
3) 15:42 min. sound from Hiroshima around The Atomic Bomb Dome April 2007
4) 7:13 min. sound from a walk at Fushimi Inari Shrine, Koyoto October 2006

Photography; 100x150 cm: Shibuya #01 and Hiroshima #01 Photography; 100x150 cm: Shibuya #01 and Hiroshima #01

Photography; 100x150 cm: Tokyo #18, Tokyo #14 and Aoyama #02 Photography; 100x150 cm: Tokyo #18, Tokyo #14 and Aoyama #02

Video: Sibir #01 #02 #03, 2008<br />
Flat screen x 3 size 7 inches Sibir #01 (2:24 min) , Sibir #03 (2:33 min), Sibir #02 (2:46 min)<br />
SYNOPSIS: The film is from a flight from Japan to Norway<br />
SOUND: No sound. Video: Sibir #01 #02 #03, 2008
Flat screen x 3 size 7 inches Sibir #01 (2:24 min) , Sibir #03 (2:33 min), Sibir #02 (2:46 min)
SYNOPSIS: The film is from a flight from Japan to Norway
SOUND: No sound.

A-BOMB DOME, sound installation 2008, 10:00 min. loop. Environmental sounds from the area around The Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima, Japan in April 2007. A-BOMB DOME, sound installation 2008, 10:00 min. loop. Environmental sounds from the area around The Atomic Bomb Dome, Hiroshima, Japan in April 2007.

TOKI - TIME

Festival exhibitor at Molde International Jazz Festival 2008: Christine Istad, TOKI - TIME

"The others" – travels in time and space

Written by Janicke Iversen
Throughout the period of art history from the end of the 19th century onwards, artists have been interested in investigating cultures and phenomena outside the sphere of their own lives. Not only ethnographic and sociological studies, but also visual arts have made a major contribution to conveying and interpreting encounters with "the others". The resulting art movement is termed exoticism; for Europeans this has been synonymous with studying areas of Africa and Asia.

Exoticism of the past and present
Paul Gauguin was one of the first modern painters who broke with motif conventions when he travelled to Tahiti at the beginning of the 1890s. His meeting with the "simple" and "primitive" culture there inspired him as a painter and led to his famous allegory Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going? But at home in France, his pictures met with opposition and were regarded as irrelevant. German and Danish painters at the beginning of the 19th century met with a similar reaction when they went to West Norway to seek out the dramatic landscape along the fjords. For them, the "exotic" meant conquering the forces of nature in harsh, northern climes in order to document what was considered at the time as wild, inhospitable and crude nature. Manifestations of encounters with "the others" have in other words often met with to scepticism and a negative reception.

In the 19th century, expeditions to far-away places were a hazardous business, but today, most destinations are easily accessible. For this reason, you might think that a curiosity for " the others " would have dwindled, especially since information about alien places is easily available via the internet and TV. But no: easy travel has on the contrary opened up opportunities for exploring unfamiliar cultures – also in artistic terms. Two examples of Norwegian artists whose work has clearly been shaped through meetings with "the others" are Mette Tronvoll and Vegard Moen. Whereas Tronvoll's photographic art studies human lives and folklore in Greenland and Mongolia, Moen's photographs question China's transformation and rapid expansion from an unbending communist regime to flourishing, westernised commercialism. Eline Mugaas and Knut Åsdam are two further artists who base their works on encounters with other societies. Though their works consist of European and American urban landscapes, the different social codes and cultural conventions they depict challenge our perception of our own self-understanding.

The concept of exoticism has therefore taken on a different meaning today; it is no longer only distant cultures that are the object of artistic investigation. The two concept artists Gardar Eide Einarsson and Matias Faldbakken are two cases in point. For them studying " the others " means examining sub-cultural phenomena within Western culture, i.e. a closer look at our own, regulated social conditions. By scraping at the surface of conventional society, they reveal cultural deviations that appear just as alien as Gauguin's Tahiti paintings did for Frenchmen at that time.

Encounters with " the others " have changed in character and method throughout history. Whereas the first artists who sought out alien cultures were mostly interested in studying nature and living conditions from a romantic and symbolic perspective, contemporary artists tend to take a more critical angle. Herein lies a paradox: whereas exotic art in the past was regarded with scepticism as degenerate or vulgar at home, contemporary projects incorporating impulses from abroad are considered interesting and stimulating and the messages they convey have an increasingly critical sting to their tail. Artists no long travel abroad to document romanticised and sublimated perceptions of " the others " lives and society, but to criticise international developments. In this way, exoticism has more and more in common with what can be termed "universal, sociopolitical art", which looks at our own social conditions in relation to the global situation. But not all artistic projects are directly related to specific political, social or cultural issues. Today's art may well employ poetic effects, but at the heart of most works lies a criticism or other serious questions about our self-perception in the light of different social and cultural contexts.

Meeting Japanese culture
Christine Istad's latest project belongs to this diverse field of artistic investigation. Through her repeated visits to Japan, she has made this country and its culture the subject of her artistic research. She has even learnt Japanese in order to deepen her understanding of the Japanese people and their social conventions.

Like a modern-day archaeologist, Istad uses the camera lens to dig deep into Japan's cultural history. She has made long journeys by train and on foot within Japan's borders; she has followed the routes of pilgrims' wanderings from temple to temple and studied religious rituals and mystic traditions. Other layers of history have been unveiled by means of tea ceremonies, gastronomy and language. She has also examined and documented the aftermath of the atom bomb at Hiroshima through processed photographs of the famous Atomic Bomb Dome. These have been developed as a room installation in which sound recordings from the square by the dome constitute an essential part of the work. The sounds of people and birdsong point to the will to live that defied the ultimate attempt at extermination in 1945.

Istad's art focuses on current Japanese culture by depicting modern urban structures where hi-tech developments and almost synthetic social conditions create a society that seems alien to our western eyes. Whereas Istad uses a conceptual approach, other artists employ different means to convey similar themes. A case in point is Sofia Coppola's film "Lost in Translation" from 2003, which uses narrative structures to analyse the disillusioned and restless lifestyle of Tokyo citizens. Both Coppola and Istad expose the state of mental unrest arising from this frenzied society and both employ a form of aesthetic dilatoriness in their iconic presentation of these hectic phenomena. Both Coppola's film and Istad's photographs circle around eternal questions of identity and existentialism.

The role of media
Different media and strategic techniques are used to convey interest in " the others " as a form of artistic expression. At the Molde Jazz festival exhibition, Istad uses photographs and video works, including installations and audio effects. The photographs' wealth of detail can be perceived as a close look at Japan's hypermodern urban structures, while the video works present a more subtle depiction of nature's inherent and charged atmospheres. Several of the video works can be interpreted as meditative and heavily symbolic references to religion and mysticism. This mythical atmosphere is reinforced by a musical soundtrack inspired by Japanese music traditions. Composed by the trumpeter Arve Henriksen, the sound creates an almost seamless transition between the musical and visual imagery.

Istad takes the concept of "study" seriously by presenting close-ups and sections; in other words, she uses the camera lens as a magnifying glass in order to highlight fragments and details, comparable to the minute findings of an archaeologist. The motifs examine ephemeral and often tiny fragments of landscapes and urban societies; phenomena that are usually regarded as insignificant are presented by Istad as an essential documentation of history or momentary incidents. Both her photographs and video works are analogue and refer in real time to the place depicted. The motifs are not manipulated but nevertheless appear abstracted due to their detailed form. It is not immediately obvious what the pictures are about and the observer is free to choose from the associations that arise from the works' titles and visual appearance. Istad's long-standing and meticulous methods of revelation can be regarded as an interpretation of Japanese cultural history per se.

Those familiar with the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami's dreamlike narratives may recognise a parallel world in Istad's pictures. Just as Murakami conjures up strange series of events in relatively everyday lives, Istad's visual studies have a similar effect. The pictures are concrete but at the same time intangible. They contain layered structures, but also visual obstacles that give "the story" a new direction. Just as Murakami's narrative style creates mental pictures that are gradually revealed, Istad's photographs become easier to understand as the observer allows herself time to study them.

TOKI - TIME
At the cutting edge between culture, nature and history, Istad introduces "time" as a navigational tool. The title of the exhibition, TOKI, is the sound of the Japanese word for time and is a key to interpreting both her video and photographic works. The concept of time is also a key aspect of her approach to Japanese heritage, where complex cultural traditions are blended with modern, urbanised societies. A nation that most people today connect with enormous buildings and efficient technology is at the same time the bearer of a rich cultural heritage that is still kept alive. In this way, history runs side by side with a futuristic social order. The term "time" also refers to the artist's approach to her own project and her acceptance of a foreign culture. Istad has stated that it took weeks before she found her feet amongst " the others " and their unfamiliar habits and customs. Istad's artistic project demands a particularly critical eye, but also humility and respect – and in a similar way to Gauguin, she asks difficult questions on behalf of us and the Japanese: Where do we come from? What are we? Where are we going?

Art and the festival
As in previous years, parts of the festival exhibition have been taken out of the gallery and into the Molde Jazz arena. In Romsdal Museum, one of Istad's video works is on exhibition in the old chapel. In the midst of the commotion of the festival, it seems appropriate to show a spiritual, zen-like experience in this historical, sacred place. We and " the others " come face to face; the past and present come together and bridge cultural differences in an apparently uncomplicated harmony. However, under the aesthetic and soothing visual and auditive surface, there smoulder grave questions that neither Gauguin nor Istad can answer; instead, they encourage us to ponder on our own existence.

Left: video Ryoan Ji and to the right: sound installation Remember Left: video Ryoan Ji and to the right: sound installation Remember

Video installation: MIST Video installation: MIST

Motif from Tokyo created for the Jazz Festival Design program Motif from Tokyo created for the Jazz Festival Design program

ELEVATOR

ELEVATOR

Henie Onstad Artcenter 2005
Photography and sound installation
Sound installation in cooperation with Erik Wøllo (http://www.wollo.com)

… it's as if a room emanates from me, the zero point of spaciality. I don't see the room from the point of view of its outer extremities, rather I live and breathe it from the inside; I am engulfed by it. When all is said and done, the world is around me, not in front of me.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty


Text: Benedicte Sunde, Curator. (http://www.hok.no)

The search for the perfect motif
Christine Istad's exhibition "Elevator" is a project of many facets. Istad's approach to photography touches on a number of issues central to art history: form, sensuousness, abstraction, serial art, architecture and the effects of light. These issues are present in the 13 photographs which form the core of the exhibition. Istad investigates the painterly potential of the photograph from conceptual points of view and searches for the optimum abstract motif, with the exploratory eye as a key factor. Istad has in fact been hunting for the perfect motif since the beginning of the 1990s, from the Saudi Arabian desert to the simple frame of a window. Gradually she realised that the most challenging motif was to be found in her own neighbourhood. In the very centre of the buildings of the Henie Onstad Art Centre there exists an architectural feature which constitutes a "room" that incorporates all the challenges that Istad had been searching for for over a decade. The original motif that is the point of departure for the photographs is veiled and hidden from the eye of the observer, but it is still part of the architecture of the Art Centre. Through detailed studies of this motif, Istad manages to combine her painterly ambitions with the wide potential of the photograph. She has taken over 700 photographs of this "object" and has experimented with pictures taken at different times of the day in order to discover the various reflections and effects of depth that occur. She has also used different perspectives and heights before selecting the 13 photographs which sum up her search for the intangible, yet optimum framework for spacial geometry.

Body and spirit
Istad, then, examines the effects of light, including its potential for creating depth; her interest in architecture and elements creating space is closely related to light. Istad mediates her own physical experience of spacial issues and her subjective experience of a motif is a key feature of her oeuvre. She reproduces her experiences and reactions to the motif as an expression of her own self as a sensuous subject in the world. She penetrates the motif she chooses to reproduce and is therefore both with it and in it. In this way, her painterly photographs present a picture of an artist who is attempting to get through and beyond the visual part of the world. The French philosopher and phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty describes in his book, The Eye and the Spirit from 1960, the very approaches and methods that Istad uses in her investigation into the world around her. Merleau-Ponty describes how the painter grasps the world with her body and spirit. He maintains that the artist does not just observe the world, but is an integral part of it and is actually united with it through her body: The phenomena of light, colours and depth only appear to be out there in front of us because they strike a familiar chord in the body, because the body is there to receive them. Merleau-Ponty goes on to define depth as a significant phenomenon and tries to explain why we can see depth in something that is actually flat: The proof is that I can see depth when I look at a painting which everyone can see has no depth and which presents me with an illusion of an illusion… This two-dimensional object, which makes me see a third dimension, is, as they said in the Renaissance, an object with a hole in it, a window… But the window actually only opens out on a partes extra partes, out onto a height and width as seen only from another side, onto the absolute positiveness of existence. This is the very point of view from which Istad addresses her motifs. In her photographs, she interprets and transforms the inherent qualities that she finds in light, colours and depth into her own form of expression.

A minimum of means
Apart from underlining the sensuous and contemplative aspect of her motifs, another key element of Istad's work is the way she treats space and depth by the use of formal perspective techniques. She zooms in on her motif in order to clarify vertical and horizontal lines. By means of these lines and the symbiotic network they create, she reproduces a painterly form of architecture, which has particularly close references to the minimalists' investigation into simple effects, especially geometry. However, Istad differs from the minimalism that emerged in the 1960s due to her tendency towards Gestalt psychology and spirituality. In this respect she has stronger links to the Canadian artist Agnes Martin, who was quick to reject a minimalist stamp since she regarded her works as primarily spiritual, Taoist reflections. Istad makes no attempt to hide her recognition of Agnes Martin's reflective, personal investigations, clearly expressed in one of Martin's statements about the role of art: When I think of art, I think of beauty, and furthermore: Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not in the eye, it is in the mind. This line of thinking reveals that Istad and Martin have much in common, not only on a spiritual level, but also as regards their interest in texture. Istad strives to create an additional materiality in her works. By means of meticulous trials and experiments, she tries to create a vibrant surface which helps to emphasise the contemplative atmosphere of her works. In addition, Istad has points in common with other artists such as Jean Scully and March Rothko, who also employ a purely geometrical approach. Through her search for geometrical lines and networks, Istad firms up her compositions and finds a balance in her search for the various different perspectives provided by the architecture's spaces and effects of depth.

Supplementary audio framework
In collaboration with the composer Erik Wøllo , Istad has created a sound installation in which the sounds derive from the same construction that Istad has photographed. The sound material consists of recordings from this "room" and are processed further by Wøllo without the addition of any other sound elements. The sounds are designed to lend an extra dimension to the photographs. By means of its multi-channel system, the sound installation produces a 20-minute, looped sound program that surrounds the listener and observer from all sides. Based on an abstract sound expression, this audio experience provides a supplementary framework around the abstract photographs. The audio program consists of four sections based on the themes Space, Takeoffs, Drones and Panning Percussions and aims to evoke primarily abstract associations. The sound is built up of several different layers, of which a few dominate and come to the fore. In this way, the sound both reflects and supplements Istad's photographic investigation into issues concerning space, movement and transcendentality, where form enters into an alliance with spirituality.