Rammeservice

Rammeservice, 2000, front view, Olav Kyrres Gate, Bergen, Norway

Rammeservice

Why would you show your artwork in a frame-makers store? As part of my graduation show from the Academy of Fine Arts Bergen in May 2000, I decided to make the exhibition context part of my work. This idea which initially was borne out of necessity – usually, every graduate was granted a space in the well-respected Bergen Art Association which was made impossible that year because of renovations – became a turning point for my practice at large. I decided to show my “Organblomster” series in the shop windows and wanted to know how my work would be perceived when exhibited in a location other than the professional art context. How would this context change the perception of my work? Duchamp in reverse, so to speak…

Rammeservice, front view, Olav Kyrres Gate, Bergen, Norway

Wirbelblomst, 2000, ball pen and felt pen on water color paper, 48 x 64 cm

Rammeservice, front view, Olav Kyrres Gate, Bergen, Norway

Lengsel, 2000, ball pen and felt pen on water color paper, 75 x 120 cm, installation view trough the window


Love to You

A gift from Peder

Love to You

Love to you is about my inner “storage” room which became visible. It is also the first work were I used materials which were giftet to me, mostly by my new boy friend Peder.

All photos are taken from my old portfolio which I saved as illustrator files almost 20 years ago.

Plywood, with glass beats embroidered curtain, installation view from the front

Plywood, with glass beats embroidered curtain, installation view from the front

Installation view from the side

From the backside, different materials, found or gifted

Embroidery, glass beats on kitchen cloth, flies for fly fishing on water color paper, antique frame

Chocolate drawing on kitchen cloth

Chocolate drawings, different materials on plywood

Installation view from the backside


Emily & Schizomycetes

Crochet and Azathioprin pill boxes, 2003, Galleri Ask, Åsgårdstrand, Norway

Emily

&

Schizomycetes

Photos from my old portfolio:

Emily, 2003, plywood box, sound absorbing material, crochet objects, 300 x 200 x 200 cm

Inside the box

Text by Astrid Mørland

Crochet on hospital materials, spittoons, pill boxes, tubes

Schizomycetes, 2003, crochet on paper, 18 x 24 cm, Galleri Ask


How can someone with no home be homesick

Little House, 2000, wood, paint, textiles, 1,75  x 3 x 2,5 m, installation view, Diplom HfbK Hamburg. This house was planned and build in collaboration with Peder K. Bugge.

How can someone with no home be homesick…?

Deke Rivers (Elvis Presley) in Loving you 1957

All photos are taken from my old portfolio which I saved as illustrator files almost 20 years ago.

Stamp print on curtain, installation view

Aus einem Gespräch mit Melusine Eichhorn und Dania Burger, Anfang 2000

Melusine: Die erste Frage, die ich dir stellen möchte ist, wenn du an Räume denkst, wie sehen sie aus, und was bedeuten sie für dich?

Dania: Zu allererst ist mein Körper mein Raum, alles was ich brauche um zu leben, befindet sich in diesem Raum, begrenzt durch meine Haut. Dann denke ich an mein Schlafzimmer, dann an meine Wohnung, dann an Norwegen usw. Ich versuche diese Räume so angenehm wie möglich zu gestalten, ich wünsche sie mir frei, angenehm und auch sicher. Raum bedeutet Freiheit für mich.
Früher waren Räume etwas beängstigendes und bedrückendes für mich. Selbst mein Kinderzimmer diente nur als Schutzraum, mein Körper fand dort Zuflucht, aber ich fühlte mich dort nie geborgen, sicher, oder frei.

M: Wenn du daran denkst, wo du gerne eine Installation machen würdest, was wären das für Räume, gibt es Räume, wo du spontan etwas machen möchtest?

D: Es gibt diese Räume, sie sind dann allerdings nicht angenehm….die Räume, auf die ich treffe und welche mich zu einer Arbeit inspirieren, sind Räume, in denen ich mich nicht wohlfühle und die mich an etwas erinnern. Was aus ihnen wird, hat immer mit meiner momentanen Situation, oder mit dem Thema, an dem ich gerade arbeite zu tun, ich schaffe für meinen inneren Zustand einen äusseren Raum, es kann passieren, dass dieser Raum von Anderen als absolut langweilig empfunden wird, oder als unklar und chaotisch.
Dies entspricht dann genau meiner Stimmung.
Ich beginne sehr unbewusst, das heisst, ich fange an zu sammlen und konstruieren.
Durch die Auswahl oder Nicht-Auswahl meiner Materialien verstehe ich mehr und mehr über die Thematik des jeweiligen Moments, mir werden Zusammenhänge bewusst, dieses Verstehen findest dann wiederum Ausdruck in meiner Arbeit.

M: Wenn du einen Raum erfinden würdest, wie würde er aussehen?

D: Er hätte keine Wände, die starr und fix sind, deshalb arbeite ich ja auch oft mit Stoffen, es sind schon schützende und auch abgrenzende Wände, aber nicht fest und rigide sondern offen und durchlässig und oft auch transparent. Es geht aber auch darum, einen Raum abzustecken, zu markieren, dadurch setze ich auch Grenzen.
Norwegen ist auch ein Raum, den ich mir selbst gesucht habe, ich finde dort Strukturen, die es mir ermöglichen mein Leben so zu gestalten und herzustellen wie ich es mir wünsche.

M: Sind diese Räume für dich eine Art Heim?

D: Sie sind eine Art Spielplatz. Ich erinnere mich an den Abenteuerspielplatz in meiner Nachbarschaft oder an meine Legosteine. Ich wollte immer ein Haus bauen, es war ganz klar der Ausdruck meiner Sehnsucht nach einem Heim, aber immer fehlte irgendetwas, die passenden Bretter oder Steine, um es richtig stabil und schön zu bauen.
In meiner Arbeit geht es darum auch oft um Ent-täuschung. Das norwegische Holzhaus in meiner letzten Arbeit steht für das, was ich niemals hatte und niemals haben werde. Dadurch das ich anerkenne, dass immer irgendetwas mangelt, entsteht Freiheit und in dieser versuche ich mich Daheim zu fühlen.

M: Ein weiter wichtiger Teil deiner Arbeit ist die Zeichnung.
Wie stark empfindest du die Wechselwirkungen zwischen deinen Raumarbeiten und deinen Zeichnungen?

D: Ich empfinde meine Zeichnungen als etwas Eigenständiges, keinesfalls in untergeordneter Abhängigkeit zu meinen Raumarbeiten. Das, was in meinen Zeichnungen passiert, lässt sich auch nicht auf meine Installationen übertragen, sie können Teil meiner Installationen sein, oder auch als völlig unabhängige Arbeiten an den Wänden hängen.

M: Verstehst du die Rolle des Blatt Papiers als Ausschnitt aus einem unendlichen Raum, oder als ein durch Kanten fest begrenztes Territorium?

D: Ich verstehe es als begrenzt und ausdrücklich als Fläche. Das Papier ist für mich Oberfläche, die Beschaffenheit des Papiers ist wichtig.
Ich zeichne ausschliesslich auf Büttenpapier, das ist sehr weich und nachgiebig. Ich kann mit dem Kugelschreiber oder dem Filzstift tief in das Papier eindringen und trotzdem spüre ich den Widerstand, das schafft Distanz.

M: Zeichnest du in Schüben oder läuft das Zeichnen kontinuierlich neben deiner übrigen Tätigkeit her?

D: Das ist unterschiedlich, machmal möchte ich mich nicht bewegen, nur am Tisch sitzen und mich auf diese kleine überschaubare Fläche konzentrieren. Die einzelne Zeichnung ist dabei immer das Ergebnis eines in sich abgeschlossenen und hochkonzentrierten Vorgangs. Dieser Zustand kann Monate andauern, da jede einzelne meiner Zeichnungen sehr lange Zeit benötigt. Jede Sekunde, die ich zeichne, ist für mich absolute Befriedigung und wenn ich zeichne, bin ich absolut entspannt. Meine Installationen entstehen ganz anders.
Wenn ich an einer Raumarbeit arbeite, zeichne ich nie nebenbei. Rauminstallationen sind für mich schwere Arbeit und ich bin sehr angespannt und vermeide jede Überschaubarkeit. Genau darin liegt auch die Spannung. Reflexion und Reaktion sind zentrale Punkte in meinen Installationen. Wenn ich beginne, weiss ich überhaupt noch nicht wie der Raum am Ende aussehen wird und selbst wenn ich am vermeintlichen Ende angelangt bin, ist dieser Prozess noch nicht abgeschlossen, ich greife Teile daraus in meiner nächsten Arbeit wieder auf und bringe sie in einen neuen und damit anderen Kontext.

M: In deinen Zeichnungen sieht man ornamentale Anordungen, oft sieht man organische Formen und Blumen die du zu eigenwilligen Ornamenten zusammenfügst. Woher stammt das Interesse für das Ornament?

D: Ich liebe Ornamente, sie faszienieren mich.
Ich muss in jeden hübsch gekachelten Hausflur hineingehen und fast jede Ornamentik um mich herum fällt mir auf. Mich interessiert die Sehnsucht, die dem Ornament zu Grunde liegt.
Ornamente sind Ordung, Sicherheit, und sie sind Schmuck, d.h, sie wollen schön sein.
Meine Ornamente entstehen ganz automatisch, ich gestalte meine eigene Ordung und ich habe das Gefühl je öfter ich sie wiederhole, desto mehr verstehe ich von ihnen. Ich tauche ganz ein in meine Zeichnung, es ist der höchste Grad an Konzentration, den ich erreiche, es ist Meditation.
Daher kommt auch mein Interesse für Organe und Knochen. In meinem Körper, also meinem Innenraum, sind Dinge passiert, die ich nicht verstanden habe und über die ich keine Kontrolle hatte. Das hat mir unglaublich Angst gemacht. Dadurch, dass ich immer wieder Leber, Nieren und Herzen gezeichnet habe und sie immer wieder anders angeordnet habe, hatte ich das Gefühl, dem, was ich nicht verstehe, näher zu kommen und damit verschwand nach und nach die Angst. Existenzielles zeichnen. Das hat mich befriedigt, so dass dadurch schöne Zeichnungen entstanden sind. Wenn ich zeichne, bin ich glücklich.

M: Von einer deiner ornamentalen Zeichnungen hast du einen Stempel hergestellt.
Was war der Gedanke dahinter?

D: Ich wollte einfach die Ornamentproduktion rationalisieren und erweitern. Mit dem Stempel war es plötzlich möglich, auf Wände und Stoffe zu drucken. Die hohe Konzentration, die ich in meinen Zeichnungen erreiche, wurde aber dadurch nicht transportiert und ich erkannte, dass es mir nicht um die Wiederholung des Musters geht, sondern um die Wiederholung des zeichnerischen Vorgangs. Mittlerweile benutze ich den Stempel, um zu markieren und Gegenständen einen Wert aufzustempeln, so wie man eine Urkunde bestempelt oder einen Raum kennzeichnet.

Hirnblomst, 2000, ball pen and felt pen on water color paper, 48 x 64 cm

Beckenblomst, 2000, ball pen and felt pen on water color paper, 48 x 64 cm

Respectblomst, 2000, ball pen and felt pen on water color paper, 48 x 64 cm

Pederblomst, 2000, ball pen and felt pen on water color paper, 48 x 64 cm

Installation view

Installation view

Children playhouse made from wood, organ shaped cushions, made from textiles with stamp print

Jan is visiting


Mädchenkammer

Bett, 2017, College Jacket, offset print, limited edition

Bett/Mädchenkammer

The project Mädchenkammer gathered international, renowned artists in a place where public and private spheres merge – a hotel. Appropriating a hotel as a temporary exhibition space was a key element of the project: Every artist presented their own work in reaction to one self-rented hotel room which they could use individually or share with fellow artists over the course of 2 days.
We, Eli Skatvedt, Kirstin Burckhardt and I, chose to combine shadow figure playing, as an ancient form of storytelling, with a white cube that we built around a bed. We focused on the bed as it is practically and formally the crucial element of every hotel room. At the same time, beds are quintessential objects where we lay our body to rest, making them the physical locus of imagination and dream-states that follow their own logics. And finally, beds are highly charged objects of erotica.

In our 8-minute performance BETT, we wanted to combine the bed’s iconographies, break expectations and create mesmerizing moments in which we invite our audience to enjoy the feeling of not knowing what to expect next. Through our dedication create images collaboratively, in shadow-figure play, hidden striptease, humorous sounds, and flickering lights, we sought a powerful energy, a vibrant and explicitly inviting atmosphere that was brave and self-ironic, loving and enticing.

White cube, performance BETT

White cube, light is chancing serval times during the performance

About the project:
The idea behind the project is to make art a joint venture and a place for a shared experience of art. Initiated by five artists – Peder K. Bugge, Dania Burger, Crispin Gurholt, Martin Skauen, and Munan Øvrelid – the rule was that each one of them would invite further artists, writers, and philosophers to take part in making the hotel an art space for one day and night. During this period, the space was open to visitors who were welcome to see and engage in the various creative forms of expression that were presented there, e.g. talks, performances, self-curated rooms, radio shows, etc.
Unlike similar preceding instances, Mädchenkammer is neither being curated by an institution nor by one artist only. Instead, sharing aesthetic experiences – both in perception and in the artistic process itself – and going beyond the individualistic, often impersonal forms of exhibiting art and affiliate forms of creative expression made this venture unique.

Mädchenkammer, 2017


Dokhtar-Test

Dokhtar 2005

12 crochet drawings and pubic/head hair on paper
29 x 42 cm each
text, Persian carpets, radio, Persian musik, installation view, Vestfold Kunstsenter, Tønsberg, Norway


OPEN

OPEN

by Michiel Keuper and Dania Burger

As a happening, we adapted Michiel’s T-shirt concept (originally developed for Peter Player’s Visible Undercurrent) for our studio warming celebration.

OPEN T-shirts, 2019,
offset print on ecologically sustainable T-Shirt

Party

Michiel

Still partying


The Vigorous

The Vigorous, 2018, Handmade boxing rope, design and conception by
Dania Burger und Karsten Fielitz

Photo by Peder K. Bugge

The Vigorous

Text by curator and art historian Tone Lyngstad Nyaas

Almost a decade ago, Dania Burger’s conceptually-based artistic practice started expanding to include relational and performative works. In 2010, she instigated Given-as-gift, asking friends and colleagues to give her gifts in the form of textiles that could function as catalysts for interaction and dialogue. The gifts were also the starting point for parts of the performance and exhibition project I like Norway and Norway likes me (2012), at RAM Gallery in Oslo. The gallery was transformed into a spartan flat where it was possible to reflect on how we interact with the things in our consumer society that are constantly being replaced and robbed of relational and personal dimensions. During Documenta 14 (2017), Burger collaborated with the artist Mattin to create the performance Social Dissonance. She intervened in the half-circular venue by hanging up 15 large pieces of felt that gradually altered the room’s accoustics. The audial change and the felt’s protective connotations and sound-softening qualities affected the actors’ communication and the public’s participation.

In creating The Vigorous (2017), Burger reflected on just how many of her friends and colleagues do not identify with the traditional two-gender mode of being. This involved making a ‘hen garment’ (a bit like a boxing robe) out of textiles given to her by colleagues and friends who work with art, fashion and design. The Vigorous is about the inner fortitude that gender-transcending practices require from an individual, since the practices sometimes trigger a social and cultural breach with family and friends. The title refers to the nickname of a boxer but also to the struggle to be free to shape one’s own identity. The clothing becomes an expression for an individual’s psychological gender-battle, which can be as strenuous as a boxing match. The ‘hen cloak’ can be worn by the public, not as a cloak of invisibility, but as a gesture of solidarity. The garment’s ceremonial quality is intended to expand awareness and tolerance in our encounter with people who have a gender identity other than cis-man or cis-woman. In this way, the artist also draws a humorous connection between transcendental, shamanistic and gender-transgressing aspects. The Vigorous pays homage to people who must fight for their very existence, and who also, as statistics sadly show, suffer discrimination and hate. In this context, the garment can be interpreted as a symbol of protection, openness, tolerance and solidarity.

Translation from Norwegian to English: Arlyne Moi

15 caps, 5 felt patches for the group show Hen-Flytende Kjønn, Installation view, Haugar Vestfold Kunstmuseum, Tønsberg, Norway

15 caps, 5 felt patches for the group show Hen-Flytende Kjønn, Installation view, Haugar Vestfold Kunstmuseum, Tønsberg, Norway

15 caps, 5 felt patches for the group show Hen-Flytende Kjønn, Installation view, Haugar Vestfold Kunstmuseum, Tønsberg, Norway

Video and boxing robe, installation view


Work on Paper

Work on paper, 2007, crochet and embroidery on water color paper, cotton, antique curtain, text, installation view, Galleri Soft, Oslo

Work on Paper

Invitation and worklist

Crochet  and embroidery on water color paper, 2007,
40 x 30 cm

Installation view

Installation view

Crochet  and embroidery on water color paper, 2007,
120 x 75 cm

Detail

Detail


Vikingmytologier

Odal Deconstructed, 2014,  11 embroidery drawings on paper
50 cm x 52 cm each
carpet, (digital print), wallpainting, video, photo, wooden fence, installation view, Vikingmytologier I
Haugar Vestfold Kunstmuseum, Tønsberg, Norwegen

Vikingmytologier

Reading the Odal Rune by Tone Lyngstad Nyaas

Burger is particularly interested in techniques associated with tradition female handicrafts, and many of her projects explore aspects of ornamentation, heraldry and design. She uses her own life as a narrative point-of-departure and poses critical questions of the relationship between the individual and the collective, gender and society. In Armory (2008) she took the emblems of heraldic iconography – symbols of territorial, economic or familial status – and turned them into a series of imaginative expressions. State symbols that are employed to communicate strength and power, such as the German Bundesadler and the lion on the Norwegian coat of arms, were given a softening make-over. As the symbolism of heraldry is moved from one sphere to another, a feminisation takes place. The confrontation between the masculine grammar of the symbols and the associations crochet has with feminine crafts succeeds in throwing light on the problematic relationship between public and private, power and impotence, strength and weakness. There is also a clearly humorous dimension to the fall of symbols from the level of heraldic power-rhetoric to that of the cuddly toy.

In using her personal story in her art, Burger applies a highly personal approach to her exploration of aspects of society. For instance, in her performance I love Norway and Norway loves me she highlighted the tensions of her Norwegian-German identity, inviting her artist-partner Peder K. Bugge and their dog Tasso into Galleri RAM in Oslo for a week, during which they constructed an installation from textile donations made by friends. Dokhtar was an installation similarly concerned with relational perspectives; here, she used her own hair to embroider Arabic texts – an expression of her longing to know more of the identity of her deceased father.

A wish to venture further into her own childhood and upbringing also forms in part Burger’s contribution to Viking Mythologies I, and with her Odal Deconstructed she achieves a balanced position between personal and political content. The point-of-departure for her installation is the runic character known as the Odal, which she interprets through various media. The geometric shape of the rune is abstracted and distorted in her monumental murals, setting the room in motion; it is woven into the carpet at the entrance to the installation; its shape is recognisable in the embroidered paper that hangs from the ceiling; it is depicted in a photograph; and it is the subject of a film. The range is remarkable – from the almost threatening mural depictions of the rune to the intimate and delicate character of the tapestries, the rune now almost unrecognisable. A fragment of the runic character can also be detected on an obelisk and on a stone wall. There is a rhythmic counterpoint to the embroidered drawings that hang from the ceiling at various heights and angles, seeming to suggest the close relationship between abstract art and music. This same constructivist process is also evident in the ways the geometry of the rune is broken down until it is unrecognisable. The embroideries – executed with a thin black thread that resembles ink – wake associations with architectural infrastructure drawings. The overlapping of the stitches sets up a rhythm that is repeated in the different heights and angles at which the works have been hung. The graphic inscription of the runic character is present in these three media, setting up a movement between various energy fields – the active paintings that destabilise the room in contrast with the minutiae of the embroideries, the monumental and agitative with the intimate and weightless.

This rune, the Elder Futhark sign for ‘o’, was also thought originally to be an ideograph signifying possession, family and inheritance. This perhaps goes a long way to explaining the Nazi regime’s adoption of the symbol – along with other ancient Nordic and Germanic symbols – to signify the superiority and continuity of the Aryan race. In Hitler’s Germany the rune was employed, among other uses, as a logo for the SS Central Office for Race and Settlement (RuSHA, Rasse- und Siedlungshauptamt). In her abstraction of the runic character, however, Burger liberates herself and the rune from its dark past. It moves from being a symbol with a charged content to an abstract language beyond trauma. Or, at least, this is the question Burger challenges us with: Is it possible for the Odal rune to throw off its poisoned history?

The Odal rune has been inscribed in the room with the same power and ambivalence as it has in the artist’s personal history. Odal Deconstructed has grown out of an experience Burger had during her childhood in a small village, near Harburg, in the 1970s and 80s. One of her family’s closest neighbours was active in the neo-Nazi organisation Wiking-Jugend, a successor to the Hitlerjugend. Until it was disbanded in 1994, the Wiking-Jugend was a youth organisation with a branching network of contacts to similar groups in several European countries. Wiking-Jugend represented destruction, racism and violence, with direct associations to the mass extermination of the Jews and immeasurable human suffering. Burger recalls that an obelisk decorated with an Odal rune – the symbol of the organisation – stood in front of her neighbour’s house. (When the use of the swastika was forbidden after the war, neo-Nazi groups adopted runes instead as their political logos.) The family’s eight children were given Norse names and Dania Burger was forbidden by her parents to play with them. Despite being stigmatised in their local community, the neo-Nazi family were not met with reprisals and could openly flag their political affiliations. They carried large packages to the post office with literature for distribution, but no one protested about their activities. Although the family publishing business was affected when the Wiking-Jugend was outlawed in 1994, the family still sell neo-Nazi literature on the internet. Burger associates the Odal runic character with the anxiety she experienced during her upbringing. She passed the obelisk every day, feeling waves of anger at both her own impotence and the indifference of the local society. When she left the village, 18 years old, she carried with her a heavy burden of frustration and – in common with many of her generation – a sense of shame about the ravages of the Nazi regime. Through the works of many leading German artists today, including Josef Beuys and Anselm Kiefer, it is possible to see the trauma of post-war shame being processed, and for Dania Burger this discourse about the problems of identity in relation to the nation has been influential. Open debate about the collective trauma has undoubtedly led to greater political awareness in younger generations.

In 2013, Dania Burger travelled back to her childhood village to film the location and to rediscover what it was like to be there and see this family still producing their propaganda. On this first visit she saw again the stone wall ornamentation with interlaced odal runes, but not the obelisk. During the final preparations for Viking Mythologies I she felt it necessary to visit the location once more in order to supplement her film material for the installation, and on this occasion she discovered that the obelisk was still there, though now with the odal rune somewhat altered, to comply with the German ban on runic inscriptions.

In her interpretation of the symbol Burger has added layer upon layer, in order to visualise the inherent conflict. The runic figures that have been machine-woven into the carpet form an ornamental pattern that visitors will be have to tread on in order to enter the room. It is a physical act that literally leaves its mark, but metaphorically can also be regarded as a gesture: we all have a responsibility to fight racism, violence and dehumanising practices. In the way Burger’s runic figures dissolve into an abstract language, they represent a fight for liberation. But this rune will not go quietly – it can put up a fight to avoid losing its destructive ideological power. By showing this, Burger suggests that, even though the runic character has more than a thousand years of history behind it, a new interpretation can build on old history and again present a challenge. The artist herself has characterised the installation as a delayed revenge on the shadows that hung over her childhood. It is also an installation that reveals that there is still an ambivalence attached to many Norse symbols – that the Nazi exploitation of them left a deeper mark on them than we have previously been aware of. This became abundantly clear when an far-right organisation in Norway, Norges Nasjonale Arbeiderparti, adopted the odal rune as its logo – before its webpage was shut down in 2014 because of anti-Semitic and racist statements. Even today, in a globalised society, Norse runes and Viking motifs seem to have an enduring appeal for groups disseminating neo-Nazi and extreme right-wing ideologies. Dania Burger´s experiment was all about resisting that assimilation, by reclaiming the symbol and by deconstructing it.

Carpet (digital print), wall painting, embroidery on water color paper,  installation view

Wall painting, video,  iPad, photo from the bookstore, installation view

The bookstore, revisited

Installation view

Installation view

Embroidery on water color paper,
50 cm x 52 cm

Embroidery on water color paper,
50 cm x 52 cm

Embroidery on water color paper,
50 cm x 52 cm