Frame 61

Elisabeth Molin

Frame 61
Elisabeth Molin

"We live in a visually led culture and I’m trying to activate our other senses by creating an intimate and perhaps awkward bodily awareness through these encounters."


Could you tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been a practicing artist and where did you study?

I’m born in Copenhagen, Denmark and moved to London in 2006 to study at Chelsea College of Art. I got interested in art through films and the way in which they can resemble the mind and mental states. Through film I got interested in these metaphorical moments and fragments in film which represents something about the whole, a mood, which you can’t describe but can relate to. I did my Masters at RCA from 2011-2013 and since then I have been travelling doing residencies and site specific projects in Athens, Rome, Copenhagen, Cologne and Los Angeles which has been exciting and productive for my work.

You work with installation, performance and video, could you talk about your process and what your work is about?

All of my work stems from encounters with situations, spaces and characters that somehow make visible a displacement in the perception of reality. The last years I have been interested in the idea of the hidden, the overlooked and the night time with the everyday urban landscape. My works often linger as fragments (objects, texts, pictures, short videos) that I arrange and reuse in different contexts. I like the ideas that a thing can appear in different contexts and through different mediums, that it can be one thing but also another. The space and the context I show within is important to me, and I often try to activate the architecture of a given space and think about how it’s possible to relate to it. We live in a visually led culture and I’m trying to activate our other senses by creating an intimate and perhaps awkward bodily awareness through these encounters.

Sleep, installation view, 2015

Sleep (still), 2015

Sleep installation view, 2015

Could you tell us about the video piece: Sleep?

Sleep is a video installation inspired by an encounter with Kamran, an Afghani taxi driver who works at night in London. I met him by chance as I was moving house, where he told me about his displaced family, about fleeing from the war in Afghanistan and when the Americans started using the stinger rockets. I found it touching and uncanny to hear about the war from a personal point of you, as oppose to how media represents it and the role of the refugee.

After Kamran told me about his story he turned on the radio and this cathartic song by The Carpenters came on, and I found this break in rhythm, between this heavy story and the lightness of music interesting, and it reminded me of how time passes, and that somehow you only become aware that a time has passed when you find yourself in a new time.

For an exhibition in Cologne I combined the footage of Kamran with footage that I shot at night in urban cities in an exhibition I called Sleep. I had the exhibition open only between dusk and dawn, as away to create an atmosphere that was both magical and ghostly at the same time.   

Tell us a bit about how you spend your day/studio routine? What is your studio like?

I have a studio in Acme Studios in New Cross but find most of my materials infiltrated in life, as encounters that I’m struck by but can’t decipher, things and materials that seem to contain a paradox between a state of mind and a particular time. The notion of being in transit, in between spaces, between purpose, have a relevance. It symbolizes to me, moments where different worlds meet and transform each other mutually.

I find urban cities relevant as a reflection of the intersection between mental spaces and architecture, where the construction and destruction, control and chaos of human nature is perhaps most visible. I use the studio mostly to collect and compose the different materials, to experiment with how the elements speak and argue with one another.  

Sleepless, 2015, Installation

Untitled, 2015, Installation

What artwork have you seen recently that has resonated with you?

I saw an exhibition last year by Thomas Bellinck in Athens, an off side project in a house which looked like an abandoned governmental building, which the artist had turned into a museum that looked at Europe as a project of the past. As a visitor you walked through the different rooms that contained everything from information about the trade of tomatoes, to a collection of doors, cards and personal letters from workers, and in the end there was a rooftop terrace where the artist served drinks and spoke to each individual visitor. I think what was interesting about it, was how this semi ficticious space revealed and made transparent the complex structure of a union, and somehow figured a transparency and complexity which isn’t figured in politics today.

Where has your work been headed more recently?

I’m writing short stories about paradoxical moments I encounter. I use the text on it’s own, but I also incorporate it into videos I make. It’s the first time I’m combining text, sound and image in my videos, which is exciting.

How do you go about naming your work?

Sometimes almost indexical and other times intuitively, which creates more of a mood.

Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?

I’m working on a book at the moment which will be published in the summer. It’s a series of short stories about failures in vision, deception and blindness, an exploration of words as mental images and images that struggle with their representation. In September I will go to New York for 6 months, I have been awarded a grant from the Hasselblad Foundation to do a residency and mentoring programme at International Studio and Curatorial Programme there.

All images are courtesy of the artist
Published date: 5/4/17