Marte Johnslien - White to Earth

Marte Johnslien
21 January - 23 February 2020

The exhibition White to Earth at ROM presents Marte Johnslien’s final exhibition as a research fellow at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHiO) and its Art and Craft department.

White to Earth (2020), Marte Johnslien. Photo: ROM

Johnslien’s artistic research project, titled Circumstantial Sculpture, is a multifaceted and experimental investigation of sculpture, with a particular focus on ceramic materials and objects. Underlying her work is the conviction that art, because of its ability to express both connections and interstitial spaces, may be persuasively used to illuminate the relationships that exist between specific materials and phenomena.

A Square on a Sphere, the first part of Johnslien’s research was presented at the Lillehammer Art Museum in October 2018 - March 2019. ROM really look forward to present a selection of these works. The title plays on the impossibility of transferring a two-dimensional square to a three-dimensional sphere. In addition to the theoretical aspect of the work, her work also surprises with their playful in shape and tactile surfaces.

Avfall Kronos. Photo: Marte Johnslien

Krystall glasur. Photo: Marte Johnslien

The latest part of Johnslien’s research is White to Earth. As the title indicates, a series of ceramic sculptures reveals the aesthetic and conceptual investigations of the material’s origins and its way of interacting with other materials. In this project TiO2 is studied through its history and its materiality, where in the final stage – the ceramics – the material returns to a sort of earthly state. Johnslien’s research is based on TiO2 and its reputation for being the white pigment that is purest and most adhesive. It has defined our way of perceiving the world, by virtue of making a host of everyday items and environments whiter or brighter. It is used in paint, plastic, paper, cosmetics, food and medicine. Johnslien’s history of Norwegian titanium production begins where the industrial manufacture of TiO2 was developed in about 1910, namely in the ilmenite quarry Titania in Southwestern Norway. From there, she follows the material to Titania’s sister factory in Fredrikstad in Eastern Norway, Kronos Titan, where the ilmenite is converted to titanium dioxide and exported to the entire world. Norway produces around 8 per cent of the white pigment sold on the global market, and we are thereby one of the largest manufacturers of whiteness in the modern era. Those who are familiar with Johnslien’s career will easily recognise her use of knowledge of society, history and science. In White to Earth she calls attention to the way in which the pigment has affected how we look at the world, and she asks, why isn’t this history part of our national consciousness?

Marte Johnslien (1977) is an artist based in Oslo. She works with sculpture, installation and artist books. She is a PhD candidate in Artistic Research at the Oslo Academy of the Arts, Department of Art and Craft (2016-2020). Johnslien has had solo exhibitions at Lillehammer Art Museum (2018), Henie Onstad Art Center (2014), Gallery Riis (2011, 2013) og Kristiansand Kunsthall (2013). She has participated in international exhibitions such as the Havana Biennale (2015) and Survival Kit (Riga, Latvia, 2016). Her work can be found in the collections of The National Museum for Art, Design and Architecture, the Henie Onstad Art Centre and the Lillehammar Art Museum. She has installed permanent public art projects for, among others, Gulating Lagmannsrett and Norads Utviklingshus, and she received Einar Granum's Art Prize in 2012. Marte Johnslien is represented by Galleri Riis.

The exhibition opens Tuesday 21 January 2020, at 18.00, and is part of the program Artistic Research Week at Oslo National Academy of the Arts (KHiO). We also invite you to a conversation between Johnslien and art historian and critic, Ingrid Halland, Sunday 9 February, 13.00.