CONTINUE in Speaking

Mie Olise: The Exquisite Capabilities of the Flying Carpet

SPOKEN at Skive Museum of Art, Denmark, Exhibition Inaugural Talk on 25 September, 2009

THE Talk in Brief

Thank you Rasmus and Mie for inviting me here tonight to open the exhibition. I was both delighted and honoured by the invitation. The exhibition marks tremendous development in Mie’s work since her exhibition in Berlin last spring.

A quote by Botho Straus that always comes to mind when I think of Mie Olise’s work: “Desolation comes from the middle of society and not from its edges.” (1) It’s true, it is easy and perhaps most obvious, to think of Mie’s work as what I am calling an architecture of abandonment, as work with alludes to desolation and decay, be it at the middle of society or at its edges, as that which refers to an actual landscape or places that been forgotten and left behind (2), or whether this notion of abandonment is more metaphorical, as that which take places in the ruminations of our mind, a the nostalgia of a lost youth. (03) It is also easy, here in Skive, to associate her work with Danish Expressionism, with a certain national a identity, or even a certain nouveau or photographic realism that is allied with the history of the Museum and which Rasmus is pursuing within its contemporary guises. But tonight when walking around these galleries, I would ask you to push this reading a bit, to think beyond these sort of limitations, to consider something less overt, more subliminal within Mie’s work, that is more is about her power not to deny an sort of national identity but rather to translate, transmute or transcode it. This speaks to a certain socio-political history — hidden perhaps within the exquisite capabilities of this magic carpet, subsumed within the poetics of her work — but one that is nonetheless important. This history speaks as much to notions of abandonment, decay, and desolation, as it does to a contemporary art practices, and places her work within a sort of multi-cultural discourse.

The works that you see tonight, that were created for this exhibition were inspired by Spree Park. Constructed in 1969 Spree Park was the only amusement park within the former GDR. At its peak it hosted over 1.7 million visitors per year. After the fall Berlin Wall in 1989 it fell into dis-use. (04) I mention this not because it is crucial for an understanding of Mie’s work –  for there is a certain familiarity here that we all recognize, whether from past childhood experiences or from personal fantasies or dreams or even nightmares — but because its abandonment marks the end of an epoch. The fall of the Berlin Wall after which Spree Park lost its usefulness to a society signals a shift — the advent of multi-culturalism, of a global economy, of a world of informationism, of atomization, a world in which cultural differences are effected, in which cultural theme parks abound, a society which is largely giving way to a single global culture, a single, heterogeneous artistic language. Abandonment here connotes a post-industrial world, post-political systems. Here, to quote Nicolas Bourriaud, “the artist grows roots and adds new ones as she advances.” So it is within this context that Mie Olise’s work must be understood. Her work invokes documentary techniques, speaks of a spatio-temporal practice that denies modernist categories of painting, sculpture, photography, video and architecture, invokes the use of narratives that are told and re-told, sees and pursues history as an accumulation. These works exist, and must be seen, in and through multiple contexts.

Mie Olise distinguishes herself because she has a story to tell. Her work emerges through projects that she explores from multiple perspectives, through multiple media. As she told me today when we were speaking about the exhibition, there is a radius around her projects, a circumference that delimits her work, but she inhabits the circumference at different points. The radius shifts, deforms, to assume new (other) shapes, she inhabits different points. True, here painting plays a large, if not, prominent role. Yet if painting does not have the same meaning today that it had when the artistic discipline fit the world like a cog in a clockwork mechanism, to again quote Bourriaud, it does not prevent painting from continuing to exist. Nor can we deny its relevance. Here, in these galleries, in the work of Mie Olise, we see painting as a spatial construction that transforms the room that transforms our world. It exists as a point of rupture, a point of encounter, which is denuded by the adjacent structure that shows the artifice behind the charade. It posits vestiges of past worlds, displaces within the present, and sets us a projective task within an open-ended future. “Here it is not surprising that art sometimes moves away from representation to become a part of reality itself …” Thank you.


Still from Melancholic Noise 8MM Film 7.22 Min. copyright Mie Olise 2009 Collapsing / Rising. 180 Kilograms of wood plus 180 kilogram bag of coffee and stone, measuring three times the gallery clerestory. copyright Mie Olise 2009 Baby Flyer. Oil on canvas, 250 x 550 cm. copyright Mie Olise 2009 Flying Carpet. Oil on canvas, 290 x 424 cm. copyright Mie Olise 2009 Spider. Oil on canvas, 320 x 290 cm. copyright Mie Olise 2009 Still from Melancholic Noise 8MM Film 7.22 Min. copyright Mie Olise 2009 Butterfly. Oil on canvas, 250 x 550 cm. copyright Mie Olise 2009 Still from Melancholic Noise 8MM Film 7.22 Min. copyright Mie Olise 2009 Still from Melancholic Noise 8MM Film 7.22 Min. copyright Mie Olise 2009 Still from Melancholic Noise 8MM Film 7.22 Min. copyright Mie Olise 2009 Spree Park History. copyright Mie Olise 2009 Ferris Wheel from Melancholic Noise 8MM Film 7.22 Min. copyright Mie Olise 2009
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