These Present Things
Silje Figenschou Thoresen uses found objects to build her installations on site—pieces of different kinds of wood, paper, plastic. Some objects are close to their origin, like a branch of pine or birch, but more often they seem to emanate from a context adjacent to a human dwelling, a backyard or a woodwork shed. Former processes can be discerned; cuttings, marks from sawing, usage—as traces of human activities, they come with a history. Every piece has its history and character, which in these temporary constellations together form precise artistic statements.
The material she prefers has an undefined function. They are the kind of sticks and pieces one keep lying around in case of future needs, small and insignificant objects without value which in a specific situation proves to be exactly the thing you need to fill a gap, to support something. Since future needs are unpredictable, alterations are unwise. To cut a stick might mean it´s too short the next time. Flexibility and temporariness open up for a wider range of possible use, so if two pieces needs to be joined together, a rope that later can be untied is to be preferred.
Silje Figenschou Thoresen has her background in the Sámi culture of northern Scandinavia. Her work is based in the culture’s pragmatic approach to material and design. A non-hierarchical attitude towards material and the strive for flexibility put established design values into question and form an ideology of recycling and long-term perspectives on the needs and possibilities of everyday life. In contemporary society this also represents a political comment to the increasing consumerism.
From the traditional Sámi approach to the design process Silje Figenschou Thoresen also brings a sensitivity to the material and an ability to view the individual object from an unexpected perspective. In her art she transfers a mainly practical understanding into aesthetics and handle other aspects—direction, colour, texture—with the same kind of sensitivity. One can imagine that the aim for balance that permeates her works also once had a practical reason—one can think of hanging storage during nomadic life or even the traditional hanging cradle—and in a wider sense—in relation to the environment. In her installations the straight and entangled, the different materials and colours, the strong and the fragile, history and contemporary life are temporarily in balance, whether hanging like mobiles from the ceiling or resting on the floor in groups of objects, momentarily supporting each other.
Silje Figenschou Thoresen was born 1978 in Kirkenes, Finnmark, Norway. She lives in Kirkenes and Stockholm.