hanne lydia
 

Citizen, The White Tube

 

9.October – 25. November 2007

Hanne Lydia O Kristoffersen introduces us to an anonymous citizen in the crowd.  But the secretiveness round that person’s identity seems to be the most important factor.

 

By Line Ulekleiv

The White Tube, meaning the showroom in the form of glass showcases on the walls of Tøyen tube station, presently exhibits Hanne Lydia O. Kristoffersen’s Citizen. In this tube station are three drawings on display, two large-sized ones, and one smaller and darker, on black paper. The drawing technique is crayons on paper, the shaping finely nuanced and made with a steady hand.

 

During the last few years Kristoffersen has attracted attention with a series of large-sized drawings in approximate photographic style, and her focus is on problems with gender and identity.  She has, among other things, focused on domestic violence and abused women in a domestic setting in many fine and serious works using a paradoxical monumentality, where the marginalized comes out strongly. In an exhibition in Tegnerforbundet some time ago, Kristoffersen succeeded in portraying groups of women with sunglasses and hijab made of underwear in a distinctive and unpredictable way. She used her pencil argumentatively, and the clear contours of the drawings were mixed with more turbid underlying motives that confused the onlooker, in a positive sense.

 

At Tøyen a middle-aged woman is closely portrayed in three versions. We are told that the women herself has wanted to be portrayed and has also chosen how she wanted to pose for the works.  She is dressed in Securitas outfit in one of the drawings, combined with some striking and hyper-feminine jewellery, but we don’t know for sure if the woman really is a security officer. With her theatrical and decrepit look she may rather communicate a sort of faded night club hostess who has had a rough time.  And in such an interpretation one may fall for one’s own tendency to categorize when meeting visual signs and personal characteristics. Touche.

 

At the same time we don’t know for certain what Kristoffersen intends to tell us with these drawings, especially since this woman is both generalized and mystified in the press introduction to the exhibition. There it is said that ‘emphasis is put on the character traits of the person portrayed rather than the customary way of presenting representatives of this group…In this context the woman’s way of life is unimportant, as is her background.’
I have to admit  having problems here; which group are we talking about, and what is it in the woman’s way of living that should not be important?  This secretiveness, the refusal to characterize – whatever it might be – seems to be counterproductive by creating a sort of negative curiosity. The emphasis on the fact that the paintings rather came into being out of nowhere adds to the fact that they in a sense vanish into thin air. The text at this builds in a weakness and directs attention to the flaws of the works. The person portrayed is just as much erased as clearly displayed. The expression forms a mask that protects this person, perhaps as every other semi-public person, which this woman also can call herself for as long as the exhibition hangs. Kristoffersen insists on an unbiased visualization, but the intension seems too explicitly put, too willed, and can’t be directly seen in the works. The desired independent respect might have had more favourable conditions if the drawings had been allowed to stand on their own two feet, with no bias-barometer lurking in the shadows.

 

A face is just a face, young or marked, and will indicate different points of connection from person to person. This face means neither more nor less than any face in the crowd.  At the same time is it undeniably an effective manoeuvre to dedicate bits of the somewhat indefinite public area to a face - a strange ‘citizen’ in the crowd. We then grasp the intention, the clear anti-commercial distortion of idealized consumer boards. In that way this small ‘pointed impact’ of an exhibition is not quite without a point.

 

 

CITIZEN

 

 

 

 

 

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