Dodda Maggý b. 1981 is an Icelandic artist and composer based in Reykjavík. Her practice centres around research of time-based media ranging from formal studies of the structural relationship between the visual and the aural to exploring the ethereal qualities of video, sound and music. A reoccurring theme in her work is the pursuit of giving form to perceptual experiences. Producing audio/visual installations, purely sound based work, musical compositions or silent moving images Dodda Maggý attempts to externalize the internal dimensions of the sensorial and the fantastical.

Dodda Maggý holds two BA degrees from The Iceland Academy of the Arts, in Fine Arts and in Musical Composition, and an MFA from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. She was also a participant in the Nordic Sound Art program, a two year MFA level study program in Sound Art at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Malmö Art Academy, Oslo National College of the Arts and Trondheim Academy of Fine Art.

Represented by BERG Contemporary
and Vane

Selected Press, Texts & Reviews

20 March 2013

Interview in the HuffPost Arts & Culture with Tanya Toft co-curator of Nordic Outbreak

'Nordic Outbreak': Curator Tanya Toft On How Nordic Art Extends Far Beyond Bjork

What do you know about Nordic art? If your knowledge begins and ends with Bjork we suggest checking out "Nordic Outbreak," an exhibition illuminating the Northern region's influences and aesthetics. The Streaming Museum exhibition features over 30 moving image works from Nordic artists that will be projected on screens in public spaces throughout New York City - including a "Midnight Moment" with Bjork in Times Square. Many of the works on display that were selected by co-curators Nina Colosi and Tanya Toft respond to the clashing identities in our new digital age. We reached out to Toft to learn more.

HP: The press release for the show mentions the stereotypical Nordic aesthetic as "minimal, melancholic and naturalist"... something this exhibition aims to change. Which artists were influential in casting Nordic art this way?

TT: An artist like Olafur Eliasson is a contemporary Nordic artist whose work with light, space, fog and sensitive play with colors of nature’s elements, reveal an aura of something Nordic. It conveys certain aesthetic ideas that reveal symptoms of romanticism and a seeking after the sublime rather than the beautiful. There is a melancholic feel to that meeting between man and nature, which we also find in the works of Jesper Just for example, who is in the Nordic Outbreak program with his work “Llano” (2012). In selecting the works for Nordic Outbreak, we were also interested in renegotiations of nature and landscape, which artists like Dodda Maggy, QNQ/AUJIK, Jette Ellgaard and Magnus Sigurdarson enact.

HP: Do you think there is a more accurate driving aesthetic of Nordic culture today? If so, what is it?

TT: I don’t think there is one driving aesthetic, but the artworks in Nordic Oubreak show symptoms of improvisation and play, which is somewhat “new” in a Nordic art context that might have been characterized more by control and high quality. Some of the artworks express aesthetic cultures that were not “born” out of a Nordic context. There is a struggle between introspection and extroversion – following a right wing and nationalist political period in some of Nordic countries up through the 2000s, financial crisis, and in response to the digital age. There seems to be a clash between looking in and looking out, guarding and departing. In quite a few of these works, existential questions are brought beyond the invidividual and psyche – which has been a tendency, perhaps – and pointed toward one’s role in a greater context. It is also characteristic that these artists express and awareness of the medium they are working with, and in many of the works the audience is addressed as individual viewers whose optics are shaped in a contemporary world. That we find in the works by for example Marit Følstad, Mogens Jacobsen, and Iselin Linstad Hauge.

HP: What was one of the greatest challenges of putting the exhibition together?

TT: Asking questions like: What does it mean to take ‘the digital’ as a curatorial premise - and wrapping your head and decisions around that. I don’t think there is one model. We wanted to instigate logic to the exhibition that would open up for questions concerning materiality, originality, network, and questions relating to the role of moving image in an urban context. Also, working around the partnerships we established along the way has been an interesting challenge - conceptually and practically. We lost some venues in New York that were ruined by Hurricane Sandy, which was challenging but which eventually let to exciting partnerships that we had not anticipated, for example with Dumbo Improvement District and the Manhattan Bridge Archway.

HP: What is the age range of the 30 artists represented?
Were you specifically looking for a selection of younger artists?

TT: Age was not a parameter. In fact, quite a few of the artists are quite well established. We were looking for artists that experiment with moving image, as a medium and thematic frame of expression. This is why the collection includes very ambitious animation works as well as classic, documentary-style video works. The show is not just about “new” aesthetics - it is very much about the issues put forward as societal critiques, as voices of “the happiest people” that are rarely expressed in an international context.

HP: For those of us who are huge Bjork fans, which artist do you think is following in her footsteps?

TT: I think there is a tendency of artists to become accepted for their multimedia talents, of which Bjork is a pioneering example. We selected her for the Midnight Moment in Times Square because she is a performance and visual artist who completely brakes with the barriers of art, technology, music and digital structure, which she demonstrated with her Biophilia album. There is no “next Bjork”. But there is a generation of young artists who cross over music and media art (e.g. Oh Land and Lucy Love, to name a few from the Danish music scene), not just by hiring good stage designers but by expressing their music visually as well. That is really interesting - a new kid in the school of fine art, I am sure.

The Music of Vision
ARTnord Magazine no. 11
Paris, May 2012

By Rune Søchting

Sound and music are the departure points in the work of Icelandic artist Dodda Maggý (b. 1981). Besides creating installations, she veers towards video as the medium for her work. A recurrent theme in her works is the gaze and the act of seeing. The theme is brought to presence by a staging of characters who are almost always named. Female names entitle many of her works. The works often establish a charged interplay between the gaze of the character and the audience, where the character is the object under the gaze of the audience. It is also the case in the video DE-CORE (Aurae), where vision is the central motif, albeit in a more abstract way.

The silent video-projection DE-CORE is an animation of symmetric compositions that unfold to reveal an extraordinarily complex living and organic structure composed of constantly changing small mobile elements. From a purely stylistic point of view, we are reminded of the “visual music” tradition originating in experimental films and animation. However, as we will see, it is more a case of a mise-en-scene of the “music of vision.”

The concept of a visual music figures frequently in the history of art. The idea of a “visible” music usually takes the form of a sound-image that visually reflects features that we associate with sound or music. Take the symmetrical patterns of grains of sand from Chladni’s experiments, Klee’s movement schemas or Kandinsky’s experiments with sound-color relations. The introduction, in the twentieth century, of different image-producing technologies, such as color-organs and color projections, created new possibilities for the concept of a sound-image as a dynamic phenomenon. A moving sound-image can be found in the films of many artists such as James and John Whitney, Mary Ellen Bute, Len Lye and above all Oskar Fischinger (who has also experimented with optic sounds, the transformation of graphic forms into sound). Under the idea of a visual music an extraordinary series of works were developed involving animation of light and colors in relation to music.

With the arrival of the digital image, new experimental possibilities in translating sound forms into visual forms occurred, leading to the presence of color “visualizers” in multimedia players, among others.

The animation presented in DE-CORE shares common features with these historical examples of visual music. Although music as an audible element is absent, the animated, dynamic forms presented in the work, invite a “musical” reading of the visual pattern with its prominent pulse and rhythm. The pattern’s various concentric circles give a graphic impression of harmonic and structural relations.

Nonetheless, the work’s main emphasis is on the visual, with its established dynamic interplay between parts and the whole as a key element. The emerging animated pattern appears as an ever-changing complex graphical perpetual mobile. The image’s global composition is organized around a fixed center with multiple, crossing lines of reflection, much like a kaleidoscope, but with more dynamic. The overall pattern emerges and is changed by the movement and change in the individual small elements. The movement of these multiple particles attracts one’s attention and makes it difficult to focus on the macro-level of the image. At the same time, numerous reflections prevent one from maintaining attention on specific details. Attention is once again drawn towards the global form. Visual attention fluctuates between these levels without finding a state of rest or resolution. There is something undeniably baroque in this fractal principle of pattern formation.

The visual particle-elements in the pattern are all extracted from hundreds of video recordings of flowers. Each of them were individually processed, isolated and transformed through a special mirroring process. The resulting, more or less abstract forms were then reflected again and animated in order to create the elementary level of the image, in which the original flower images tend to disappear.

Dodda Maggý acknowledges the parallel that exists between the minute animation work with video recordings and her musical work with sound recordings. In this approach one finds an echo of the idea of a music composed from recorded sounds, as conceived by the French composer and radio technician Pierre Schaeffer in the 1950s -1960s. Schaeffer imagined a new music that could, in principle, contain all types of sounds, not limited to the timbre of instruments in a traditional orchestra. As an analogy, it is tempting to think of DE-CORE as a kind of concrete visual music. Like the recording of sounds in concrete music, the recognizable flower-images in the video-recordings is transformed. What remains is a video material that is detached from reality.

In DE-CORE, the question of the status of the “musical” is submitted to yet another alteration, as suggested by the parenthesis (Aurae) in the title. Aurae refers to a pathological state that appears just before a migraine attack, in which flickering perturbs vision. This reference opens for a possible interpretation of the visual pattern as a visible music, which at the same time disturbs our vision of reality. Following this line of thought, the visual music presented in DE-CORE is not something that appears when one sees the world in a certain way⎯which according to Schaeffer was a condition for the perception of the concrete music in everyday sounds⎯but something that comes from an interior vision. In this case, what is “musical” would be something inherent to sight. The work thus moves the idea of the music of reality to the eye itself, and makes it part of the logic of vision. Thus it is no longer the music of the visual that is thematized in the work, but rather a music specific to vision. Thus DE-CORE suggests a possible difference between music of the visible and music of vision.

Rune Søchting, an artist, works on his doctoral thesis at the Royal Academy of Arts in Denmark.
From 2007 to 2009, he was the coordinator of the study program Nordic Sound Art.

Visuellt om och med ljud
Review on Horizonic in Ystads Art Museum
Sweden, 28 September 2012

By Carolina Söderholm

”Horizonic – unfolding space through sound art”.
Efter ett missförstått konstprojekt sparkades han från lärartjänsten på Århus konservatorium, dömdes för stöld och fick passet konfiskerat. Men den färöiske kompositören Goodiepal lät sig inte begränsas av det.
Istället cyklade han från Köpenhamn till Moskva och sprider numera sin radikala datormusik via nätet och föreläsningar, som gränsar till performanceverk.

Nu står hans hembyggda liggcykel, i vilken han vanligen arbetar, sover och genererar ström till sin dator med, parkerad på Ystads konstmuseum. Fast jag saknar möjligheten att lyssna på hans musik. Istället presenterar han sitt arbete och liv som kulturell hacker med anarkistiska skriftrullar och personliga ägodelar.

Om Goodiepals bidrag är det mest galna och roliga, rymmer vandringsutställningen ”Horizonic” en rad verk tillkomna under rätt extrema förhållanden. Temat är smalt, men fungerar genom sin tydliga profilering: konst som på olika sätt förhåller sig till ljud samt till det nordligaste Norden. Alla tio konstnärer har någon anknytning till Färöarna, Svalbard, Nordnorge, Island eller Grönland.

Så blir också naturen, med sin stränga kyla, istäckta vidder och kärva förutsättningar, en utgångspunkt för flertalet konstnärer. Grönländska Jessie Kleemann och Iben Mondrup iscensätter en schamanistisk performance i vattenbrynet där rytm och kropp, nutid och urtid smälter samman.

Avsevärt mer intressant, med oroande politisk kraft, är svenska Åsa Stjernas bidrag. I samarbete med forskare vid Internationella Meteorologiska institutet vid Stockholms universitet har hon skapat ett ljudverk som i realtid baserar sig på mätningar av hur Nordpolens is smälter. En klirrande, gnistrande, dovt pulserande upplevelse av den globala uppvärmningens konsekvenser.

Allt på utställningen är nu inte natur – eller ljud – vilket bidrar till helhetens styrka. Ljudkonst, som lagom till hundraårsjubileet av pionjären John Cages födelse uppmärksammas med satsningar i både Stockholm och Köpenhamn, kan annars ibland bli en rätt torftig visuell historia.

Men här agerar bland andra isländska Dodda Maggý motvikt, med sin ljudlösa, psykedeliska videoprojektion baserad på kalejdoskopiska speglingar av blomsternärbilder. Genom mönstrets växlingar, transformationer och glimrande explosioner förmedlar hon känslan av att se ljud, istället för att höra det. Ett av de mer spännande verken på ”Horizonic”, som lyckas ganska bra med konststycket att vara en visuell utställning – med och om ljud.

Ystads konstmuseum i samarbete med tidskriften ARTnord, t o m 21.10.

Andinn í lampanum
Review on Lucy in Reykjavik Art Museum
Reykjavik, 7. February 2010

Anna Jóa

Listasafn Reykjavíkur kynnir unga listamenn í D-sal Hafnarhússins; að þessu sinni sýnir þar Dodda Maggý. Um er að ræða innsetninguna Lucy sem byggist á hljóði og myndbandi. Með tæknina að vopni skapar listamaðurinn skilyrði fyrir óvenjulega skynræna upplifun sýningargesta. Fyrst er skynjunin rugluð eða „afstillt“ með því að leiða gesti inn í myrkvað rými þar sem ómar angurvær söngur. Hljóðið ferðast um salinn og er þannig skerpt á skilningarvitunum, ekki síst heyrninni þegar „áhorfandinn“ reynir að átta sig á aðstæðum. Og áhorfið fær sinn skammt; athyglin beinist fljótlega að skjámynd sem í tilviki undirritaðrar virkaði í fyrstu sem afstrakt litaflæmi, og stemningin fljótandi, óhlutbundin og andleg. Þá tekur á skjánum að glitta í konu í skrautlegum búningi, sem leiðir hugann að sirkus eða skemmtanaiðnaði af einhverju tagi. Fyrir utan að vera blekking á tjaldi, býr þessi kona yfir talsverðum annarleika; látbragð hennar er tregafullt og hún sést aðeins að hluta sem flöktandi ímynd í myrkrinu, dálítið eins og logi sem leitast við að draga í sig súrefni – en hér er það hljóðið, söngurinn, sem glæðir ásýnd verunnar.  Við rétt ákall birtist hún eins og andinn í ævintýrinu um Aladdín. Dodda Maggý líkir hér á vissan hátt eftir bíóreynslunni, þ.e. þeirri sem fæst í dimmum sýningarsölum kvikmyndahúsa. Hún einangrar þó „bíógestinn“, magnar og kemur óvanalegri hreyfingu á hljóðið, einfaldar og dempar myndina. Ólíkt því sem gjarnan gerist í bíó – að áhorfandinn gleymi sér í sjónarspilinu – virkjar eða lýsir Lucy smám saman líkamlega skynjun og tilfinningu fyrir rýmislegri stöðu sýningargesta sem umluktir eru ljósgeislum og ósýnilegum hljóðbylgjum. Hér er á ferðinni fallega unnin sýning sem kveikir ýmsar hugleiðingar um samspil skynjunar og tækni, efnis og anda.

Lucy í D sal
Listasafn Reykjavíkur, Hafnarhús
15. janúar - 21. febrúar 2010
Sýningarstjóri: Yean Fee Quay

From the Catalog for the Graduation Exhibition from the Danish Royal Academy of Fine Arts
Copenhagen, 1 May - 20 June 2009

By Stine Hebert

The experience of fainting, waking up and realizing that one has been in a parallel state has influenced Dodda Maggý’s artistic practice. As a child she often fainted, and it became an occurrence to be caught between different states of consciousness. The unbound connection between the physical residence of the body and the mental universe of the psyche has created an interest for the increased receptiveness and emotional experiences of the situation.

To be confronted with an out-of-body experience paradoxically reminds one that one is actually present in a sensing body. Dodda Maggý’s work emphasizes this element and her works primarily materialize in video and sound. Both the audio and visual components are lyrical and simple structures, which compose a non-verbal emotional language. In her videos she herself plays the female performer, who draped in colorful costumes enacts dreamy and seductive scenes, enacted in imaginary spaces outside time and space. Female figures with names such as Lucy, Iris and Stella connote an element of inexplicable mystery like characters from a David Lynch film.

Dodda Maggý’s works materialize trance-like states, and she works with passing on and opening the experience to her audience. Via her performative act she tempts the viewer to surrender to the same state. The performer’s seductive gaze looks directly out of the video at the viewer in the room. There is a hypnotic relation: To return the gaze is simultaneously to try to see oneself see. The intimacy created by being locked into the gaze of the artist is overwhelming, even though the situation is staged and strongly theatrical. A tune is played and created a sense of progression in the otherwise anti-developmental narrative in the video and suggestive state of daydreaming. The premise, to reach this female figure trapped in this displaced state of reality, to lose control and look within.

(Danish version)
Oplevelsen af at besvime, vågne op bagefter og indse man har været i en paralleltilstand, har sat sit præg på Dodda Maggýs kunstneriske virke. Som barn besvimede hun tit og det blev til en begivenhed at være fanget mellem forskellige bevidsthedstilstande. Den løsrevne forbindelse mellem kroppens fysiske forankring og sindets mentale univers har skabt en interesse for situationens skærpede sanselighed og følelsesmæssige erfaringer.

At konfronteres med en ud-af-kroppen oplevelse gør paradoksalt nok samtidig én opmærksom på, at man faktisk befinder sig i en sansende krop. Dodda Maggý arbejder med at fremhæve dette element, og hendes værker udfolder sig primært performativt i video og lyd. Både de auditive og visuelle komponenter er lyriske og simple strukturer som udgør kompositioner over et nonverbalt følelsesmæssigt sprog. I sine videoværker spiller hun selv den kvindelige performer, der iført farverige kostymer udfolder drømmende og forførende seancer, udspillet i imaginære rum udenfor tid og sted. Kvindefigurerne med navne som Lucy, Iris og Stella emmer af uforklarlig mystik som karakterer fra en David Lynch film.

Dodda Maggýs værker materialiserer trancelignende stadier, og hun arbejder med at videregive og åbne oplevelsen for sit publikum. Via sin performative optræden frister hun beskueren til at overgive sig til samme tilstand. Performerens fængslende blik kigger direkte ud af videoen på beskueren i rummet. Det er en hypnotiserende relation: At gengælde dét blik er samtidig et forsøg på at se sig selv se. Intimiteten ved at blive låst fast i kunstnerens blik er overvældende, selvom situationen er iscenesat og stærkt teatralsk. En melodi spiller og skaber forløb i den ellers udviklingstomme fortælling i videoen og den suggestive tilstand af dagdrømmeri. Præmissen for at nå denne kvindeskikkelse, der befinder sig i en forskudt realitet, er at slippe kontrollen og kigge indad.

Jeg ser dig, og jeg ser mig
Downtown Magazine 04 Vol. 2
Copenhagen, May 2009

By Ida Marie Fich

Der er de mennesker, der taler til én med det samme. I hele deres væsen, deres blik, ja, ned til den måde de går og taler på, fanges man ind af dem. En virkning, der minder om den, kunst kan have på én. Sådan var det at møde den 27-årige islandske kunstner Dodda Maggý. Hun er lige så eventyrlig som sit navn, kan snart kalde sig færdiguddannet kunstner og er dermed aktuel på udstillingen EXIT på Kunstforeningen Gl. Strand. I mere end 250 år har Det Kongelige Kunstakademis Billedkunstskoler dannet rammen for udviklingen af nyt kunstnerisk talent, og hvert år udklækkes unge kunstnere med dugfriske versioner og udtryk indenfor video-, billed- og installationskunst. Det markerer Kunstforeningen Gl. Strand med den årligt tilbagevendende og fremadskuende udstilling EXIT, som i år præsenterer 16 afgangselevers vidt forskellige værker. En af dem hedder Dodda Maggý, og hun er i fuld gang med at lægge sidste hånd på sit bidrag til udstillingen, da Downtown lukkes ind i hendes poetiske univers af blide toner og flygtige eksistenser. 

Toner og glimt
Charlottenborgs imponerende renæssancemure skærmer for Kongens Nytorvs trafik- og menneskemylder. Her har Akademiet, som det i folkemunde er kendt som, haft til huse siden 1753. Mangen en kunstnerspire har betrådt den brostensbelagte gård, som nu også en lille kvinde i lyserøde strømpebukser skrår smilende over. Doddas mørke hår blæser let i forårsvinden, som i dag er utilregnelig nok til, at jeg inviteres op ad de tunge trapper og ind i hendes lydstudie. Det er her hun sammensætter de melodier, der tit akkompagnerer hendes små videoværker, som hun næsten altid selv optræder i. Med en baggrund i klassisk musik og som (snart afgående) studerende ved masteruddannelsen Nordic Sound Art har det altid faldet hende naturligt at arbejde med lyd- ,video- og performanceformer. Hendes pande får en lille tænksom fold, da jeg spørger ind til hendes kunst:  ”Mine værker er meget poetiske,” fortæller hun på sit knasende islandskklingende engelsk. ”Det er svært at beskrive, hvad de består af, fordi de ofte handler om at udtrykke en følelse eller stemning non-verbalt, noget som man ikke ville behøve at i-tale-sætte, fordi man forstår det rent intuitivt eller kropsligt. Jeg er meget interesseret i det her følelsesmæssige sprog. Jeg tror, det er knyttet til den måde, jeg fungerer på som kunstner. Det er nemmere for mig at udtrykke mig gennem musik og billeder end ord.”  
Musikken, Dodda komponerer i det lille, mørke lydstudie, er for det meste klassisk klavermusik i flere lag tilsat kor, og den udvikles sideløbende med den visuelle del. ”På mange måder arbejder jeg som en maler i min måde at have kontrol over billedet på,” siger Dodda om sin arbejdsproces. De første ideer får hun altid som ”glimt, der popper op i hovedet ”, og er altså af visuel art, men herfra følges de og musikken ad i en improvisations- og redigeringsproces. Musik og billede er altså ligeværdige og ikke adskilte dele, der komplimenterer eller bevidst står i kontrast til hinanden for at opbygge en særlig atmosfære.

Den stemning eller følelse, Dodda gerne vil have frem i sine videoer, bliver typisk repræsenteret af en karakter eller stemme i en bestemt situation. Det er den æstetiske og poetiske værdi af det situative, der optager Dodda på flere planer. Hendes videoer fungerer som meditationer over små øjeblikke som fx i hendes Iris (2006), hvor den enkle handling at hoppe i en sofa og lade sig falde ned på en madras bliver undersøgt fra alle leder og kanter. Man ser den hoppende Dodda fra neden og med ansigtet i front og følger til sidst faldet i et loop, der gentages flere gange. Det er dermed ikke deciderede historier, der udfoldes hos Dodda. Karaktererne skal snarere forstås som billeder på identitet og bevidsthed, forklarer hun: ”Jeg vil ikke kalde mine værker narrative, men lyriske med en foreslået historie. Jeg er fascineret af den måde, hvorpå mennesket oplever, hvem de er og af, hvad det vil sige at eksistere. Mine karakterer har ikke en fast forståelse af sig selv, forståelsen flyder tit ind og ud mellem en imaginær og reel forestilling om identitet. Men selvet har stadig en base et sted, det er situeret i kroppen. Og den fysiske handling, situationen i videoerne, bliver et billede på det mentale rum, jeg gerne vil skabe for tilskueren.”
Som led i sin interesse for sammensætningen af identitet beskæftiger Dodda sig også med, hvordan vi iagttager hinanden og os selv, og hvordan vi eksisterer i kraft af at blive iagttaget.  Gennemgående for videoerne er tilstedeværelsen af det, Dodda kalder gaze: blikket. Det kan give sig til kende i videoerne ved, at der bevidst leges med roller, identitet og performance og altså med en bevidsthed omkring det at blive iagttaget. I videoen Stella (2004) fx afslører to maskeklædte piger på skift, at de ligner hinanden til forveksling. Det er da guf for eksistentialister – ikke mindst når begge roller spilles af Dodda. Selvet og kroppen bliver fremstillet som foranderlige og flygtige størrelser, hvilket også er gældende for hendes nyeste værk, som vil være at opleve på EXIT på Kunstforeningen Gl. Strand.

Now you see me…
Udover at markere akademielevernes afgang er EXIT særlig som udstilling, fordi den ikke er ensrettet i sit udtryk. Den består af 16 vidt forskellige værker, der peger i alle mulige kunstneriske retninger og bliver sat op på kryds og tværs. Dodda lægger vægt på, at den version af hendes afgangsværk, som jeg får lov at se, er en ufærdig skitse og fortæller, at den i forhold til hendes andre værker er meget skrabet og minimalistisk i sin udformning. Den består ganske enkelt af ét gentaget loop uden progression: Man ser Dodda i hvidt tøj mod en hvid baggrund. Når hun tager hænderne op for øjnene, forsvinder hun foran tilskuerens øjne og viser sig igen, når hænderne lidt efter tages til side. Som videoens arbejdstitel, I’m not here, antyder, er det også her den menneskelige som kunstneriske eksistens og spændet mellem illusion og virkelighed, der reflekteres over. Denne gang især ved at bringe kameraet i spil:
”Jeg udforsker konfrontationen med kameraet og det rum, der skabes mellem kameraet, mig selv og tilskueren,” fortæller Dodda. ”På videoen er jeg meget bevidst om mig selv som billede og om mit publikum på den anden side af kameraet. Når jeg kigger ind i kameraet, kigger jeg tilskueren i øjnene, hvorved blikket og selvbevidstheden bliver iscenesat. Videoen handler om, hvordan man som menneske kan opleve sig selv i forskellige bevidsthedsniveauer. Alle kender fx til følelsen af at forsvinde ind i sig selv, og det leger videoen med.”
I stedet for at frygte at blive overset mellem de andre værker på udstillingen har Dodda tænkt dens form ind i sit værk. Det er hendes hensigt, at hendes video skal projekteres op på en hvid væg blandt de andre udstillede værker, så museumsgæsterne ikke nødvendigvis opdager den med det samme, men kan blive overraskede, når den pludselig dukker op på væggen.

Åben og på egne ben
Samtidig med EXIT-projektet arbejder Dodda på afslutningen af sit studie på Nordic Sound Art-linjen, et samarbejde mellem kunstakademierne i Trondheim, Malmö, Oslo og København, som har fokus på udviklingen af lydkunst. Afgangsprojekterne herfra kan opleves på udstillingen Soundings på Museum for Samtidskunst i Roskilde kun to uger før EXIT åbner, så blodet pumper hurtigt rundt i de islandske årer disse dage. Hvilket dog ikke kan mærkes på det rolige gemyt, der ikke et øjeblik panikker over fremtiden som finanskriseramt kunstner. ”Lige nu er det bare crazy busy,” smiler Dodda. ”Jeg er i kapløb med tiden. Men jeg er glad for at være færdig, jeg føler mig fyldt, klar og tilfreds med det, jeg har præsteret under min uddannelse og synes, jeg har fået rigtig meget ud af den. Og jeg glæder mig til at få ro på til at arbejde mere selvstændigt. Jeg er ikke nervøs for at stå på egne ben” Selvom det at være kunstner ikke er en beskyttet titel, ville Dodda ikke være for uden sin uddannelse. Hun mener det er vigtigt at engagere sig, være kritisk overfor og udvikle sig med sin kunst, hvis man vil være en del af en verden, der kan være krævende både personligt og professionelt. Og det kan en uddannelse hjælpe til. ”Men det er jo hårdt,” fortæller hun. ”Det kræver en stor del selvransagelse, og man går igennem en masse følelser, når man får kritik. Men jeg tror den proces er vigtig, og jeg ville anbefale folk at gøre det. Det er vigtigt at være kritisk og udadvendt og interesseret i at vide, hvad der foregår i kunstverdenen, hvis det er det man vil vel at mærke. Der er jo nogen, der laver kunst kun for dem selv. Men hvis man ønsker at være en del af samtidskunsten, bliver man nødt til at have øjnene åbne og vise man vil det.” Om kunst produceres med et politisk, æstetisk eller personligt øjemed går Dodda ikke så højt op i.  Men at kunst må være ærlig og ikke lukke sig om sig selv for at nå ud til verden, og at kunst er en væsentlig del af samfundet, har hun bestemt en mening om. På EXIT vil man med sikkerhed kunne opleve den alsidighed og åbenhed overfor kunst, som Dodda står for. ”Ligesom musik kan kunst give mennesker meget og gøre livet rigere. Nogle kunstnere ønsker måske at bruge deres kunst politisk, og det synes jeg er vigtigt. Politisk kunst kan være en stemme, som ellers ikke ville blive hørt. Men jeg mener ikke, man kan tvinge alle til at være politiske, det bliver det ikke nødvendigvis interessant af. Kunstnere må finde ind til, hvad deres stærke side er. Kun når man arbejder med sig selv, og det man tror på og er, kommer der noget godt ud af det. Hvis det er ærligt kan andre mennesker mærke det stærkere.”

Dodda Maggý, født 1981 i Keflavik, Island. Har gået på musikskoler til hun var 19 år og siden studeret ved Kunstakademiet i Reykjavik og København. De sidste to år af sin overbygning har hun desuden fulgt det tværkulturelle og -faglige studie Nordic Sound Art, som er et samarbejde mellem kunstakademierne i København, Malmö, Oslo og Trondheim, der har fokus på udviklingen af lydkunst. Hendes afgangsværker kan opleves på Kunstforeningen Gl. Strand og Museet for Samtidskunst i maj.

Tid & sted 16.05-05.06, ti-sø samt helligdage kl. 11–17, on-to kl. 11-20
Kunstforeningen Gl. Strand, Gammel Strand 48 Kbh. K
Pris 0-55 kr.
Info, tlf. 33360260

Tag hovedet under armen og fold sanserne ud
Review on Soundings – Nordisk Lydkunst på Museet for Samtidskunst
Copenhagen, 13. May 2009

By Helle Bach Rungøe

"Bizzzzzzzz" (stilhed), "bizzzzzzzz" , "bizzzzzzzz" (stilhed). Jeg kigger mig rundt. Lokalet er tomt, bortset fra et papkrus med sugerør, der står efterladt i vindueskarmen. Jeg nærmer mig afventende - ikke en lyd høres. Jeg lægger forsigtigt øret til kruset, og det giver et sæt i mig, da der pludselig lyder et kraftigt "bizzzzzzzzz". Spyflugen i papkruset er ikke en drengestreg efterladt på en rasteplads et sted på den tyske autobahn, men et kunstværk af den unge finske kunstner Nestori Syrjälä, på udstillingen Soundings - nordisk lydkunst.
Det er blot ét bud af mange på udstillingen, der kredser om lyd som kunstnerisk materiale og betydningsskaber. Soundings viser ni unge kunstneres afgangsprojekter fra den nye lydkunstuddannelse Nordic Sound Art, der er et samarbejde mellem kunstakademier i Danmark, Norge og Sverige. Afgangsudstillinger lider desværre ofte af svingende kvalitet, og denne er ingen undtagelse.

Letkøbt konceptkunst
Fluen er, som man kan læse i museets kunstneroversigt, en leg med det hverdagsagtige, en udfordring af publikums traditionelle forventninger til hvad et kunstværk er, og ikke mindst en fokusering på en undseelig, irriterende, hverdagsagtig lyd, der normalt ikke fordrer den store koncentration. Men det er også letkøbt konceptkunst, der har sin primære berettigelse, som et humoristisk pauseindslag.

Fænomenologisk sanseerfaring
Til gengæld må det fremhæves, når noget virkelig skiller sig positivt ud. Her er islandske Dodda Maggýs værk Lucy, det absolut mest overbevisende. Hun har fuld kontrol over såvel billed- som lydside. Værket består af en videoprojektion, hvor en kvinde i orangefarvet palliettøj, kontinuerligt synger "uhhh-ahhh".
Lyden er meget dominerende og bevæger sig rundt i det mørklagte rum, så man som publikum føler sig omsluttet af lyden, der veksler i intensitet og styrke. Lyden opleves så kropsligt og nærværende, at det føles som om den antager reel form i rummet. På den måde peger værket på en fænomenologisk tilgang til omverdenen, hvilket betyder, at vores oplevelse af verdenen sker i kraft af en sansemæssig erfaring.

Minimal lyd
Hvor Dodda Maggý arbejder med det teatralske, stemningsfulde og sanselige lydrum, finder man i modsatte ende af skalaen bl.a. et lavmælt 4-kanals lydværk af indisk/franske Tisha Mukaji kaldet Metronome Series #1, effektfuldt installeret i Hussarstalden. Her er ingen forstyrrende visuelle effekter, men blot musikalske forløb reduceret til et absolut minimum. Lyden kommer som små bølger fra højtalere placeret forskellige steder, og giver man værket tid, er det som lyden af en taktstok, der slår tempo og rytme an - tap, tap...tap. Mod forventning forplanter rytmen sig til krop og fødder, i en sådan grad at et fransk par ved siden af mig ikke kan modstå fristelsen til at tage et par dansetrin rundt i den gamle stald.

Den 4. dimension?
Lyd som omslutter eller frastøder, som lydlandskab eller lydskulptur - alle former og hybrider har et vigtigt ærinde i billedkunsten. Lyd er på én gang håndgribeligt og diffust, til stede og ikke-til-stede. Et uendeligt æstetisk råmateriale der i et sanseligt øjeblik kan opfattes som dén fjerde dimension, nogle russiske kunstnere (Suprematisterne) søgte efter i starten af forrige århundrede. Nok er lyd retningsbestemt, men omsluttes vi, bliver lyden kropslig og allestedsnærværende, stemnings- og billedeskabende.
Soundings - nordisk lydkunst tager fat om denne dimension, og er på trods af forskellige udsving et interessant møde med kunst i et udvidet felt, og der er ingen tvivl om, at den nye uddannelse falder på et tørt sted.

Feminism Now?! - A two-part exhibition at Babel and Galleri Blunk
Trondheim, March 5 - 11 2007

By Solveig Lønmo
Translated by Kjetil Myskja and Birgit Kvamme Lundheim

We define temperatures in terms of differences and oppositions; warmth is seen in opposition to cold. Our conception of the world around us is to a large extent structured by oppositions or dichotomies. The relationship between two contrasts can be described by pointing out the presence or absence of something. We are often not conscious of the value judgements inherent in the oppositions. Almost always, a hierarchy will be created, where one side is assigned positive characteristics, while the other one tends to be described through negative or less positively charged adjectives.

Both naturally and culturally, the Man/Woman dichotomy is a central one in the basic structure upon which our western society is founded. Along with post-structuralism, feminism has tried to unsettle and make us aware of the hierarchical thinking which to a very strong degree has permeated our ideas of the sexes. The art exhibition “Feminism Now?!” intends to find the bearings of feminism’s present position. What is feminism today, and where is it heading? How hot is the topic today? Have things cooled down? How will 18 young, Nordic artists comment on feminism in today’s situation?

“To me, feminism is a room, in which I am allowed to bring to light problems, systems, structures, constructions, habits and norms. Where I can criticize them, try to remake them, change them, cancel them.” Thus says Thea Veronica von der Maase, one of the exhibitors. She wants to “bring to light, criticize, cancel”; she wants to show us the disparities between the sexes, and she wants to deconstruct our habitual perceptions. Just as the slash in the opposition Man/Woman, her artwork is a barrier, the kind used to enclose an area and mark divisions. However, von der Maase’s barrier is soft and limp; it is made from felt and wadding and lies collapsed and useless on the floor. It no longer works the way it is supposed to, and we can easily step across it. It is far from virile. Should we perhaps lower the slash: Man_Woman?

Male artists were encouraged to submit works for “Feminism Now?!” (Are there others beside me that find the term “male artist” irritatingly unfamiliar? “Artist” is traditionally perceived to be a male, and we still haven’t got rid of this expectation. It is never mentioned specifically that an artist is male. “Female artist”, however, is commonly used to point to the fact that, “Hey, this time the artist is a woman!” As an exception from the rule.) However, it may not be unexpected that the great majority of the submissions come from women. One of the relatively few male contributors is Klas Hallerstrand, who shows a baseball bat. Masculine – yes, certainly, a bat may stand for something virile, sporty, active, and even for something violent. On the other side of the slash stands the feminine and passive, and the position of a victim. But Hallerstrand has decorated the bat with silk yarn in soft colours. Thus,he has stepped across von der Maase’s barrier. The bat gains a new dimension; it has been repositioned from the masculine to the feminine sphere, and thus becomes a strange and ambivalent element in the exhibition. A similar crossover between spheres is made in Yvonne Normanseth’s works, which consist of embroidered graffiti. It is hard to think of a greater contrast to embroidery than tagging and street art. The rough, quick and dangerous against the well behaved, painstaking and safe. Trend versus tradition. And the masculine versus the feminine. Such associations lie just below the surface, whether we want it or not, and it is difficult for us to rid ourselves of our accustomed thought-patterns. Such art can, if nothing else, make us conscious of our straitjackets.

The artists Naja Lundstrøm and Troels Lundstrøm make an interesting and sly comment on the exhibition concept. They have both submitted photographs of themselves. Their applications are almost identical. Troels writes, “Hi! I am interested in seeing what my chances are as a male artist to be included in the exhibition “Feminism Now”... Naja wants to see what her chances to be included are as a female artist. Their pictures are conspicuously similar... you choose for yourself what you want to believe. We can let this be a comment on the topical question of quotas. What if 10% of all artworks in all exhibitions had to be made by men? In this case, the 10% male representation is safeguarded by Klas Hallerstrand and Troels Lundstrom.

We have so far focused on stereotypical feminine qualities like passivity, innocence, frugality and on women’s role as bearers of traditions. However, the Femme fatale is another version of the feminine. She is someone over whom man has no control, and she is both frightening and destructive (we will here disregard the fact that this female stereotype has also been also sexualized and objectified.) We meet her in Hanna Paulin’s video works. An outdoorswoman aims her gun straight at us and fires. And it is not at all Cupid’s arrows that strike us. Here, we are drawn into the work of art, and into a dangerous world in which girls shoot – watch out all men! The femme fatale is also extremely flirtatious. In her video, Camilla L. Haukedal flirts with Joseph Beuys himself. Beuys is the prototype of a mysterious, masculine artist genius – active and avant garde. Haukedal consults him on how to become a better artist. The encounter moves in a slightly comical direction by and by, and it is Beuys who becomes the comic figure: he is demystified and becomes almost cute. Simultaneously, the artist plays so heavily on her feminine charm that she limits herself, and thus questions how imbalanced patterns are maintained by both camps.

Is it possible to escape prejudices and culturally determined standards for how to relate to members of the opposite sex? One of Lise Stålspets’ videos chooses as a point of departure the Greek myth about Apollo and Daphne. Apollo is head over heels in love with fair Daphne, but she does not reciprocate his love. He chases her, and she implores the gods to save her from being caught. They grant her prayers by transforming her into a tree. She has to pay an unreasonably high price for being left in peace. In her video, Stålspets allows Dapne to escape both Apollo and the passive existence of a tree.

For many it is difficult to avoid the cultural standards of femininity when our popular culture is permeated by feminine ideals that only a few may live up to. Listen carefully to ridiculous lyrics and see the vulgarly wiggling bottoms in music videos. Maria Meinild Nielsen has focused on Britney Spears’ lyrics. She transforms the pop lyrics to texts dealing with serious existential questions by having real, mature girls present them as if though they were their own thoughts. The acting in this video is impressive, and the texts have gained a vulnerable, solemn quality that the originals never possessed. The same sense of vulnerability is found in Dodda Maggy’s powerful video. Here the vulnerability is not anything weak or “feminine” in a negative sense, it is rather something more forceful than the most macho action painting. Iris jumps up and down in a bed, in slow motion. Maggy has also made the accompanying music, music that underlines the power of this poetical video. In the middle of the video there is a black pause, giving emphasis to what follows: Iris falls sideways into the bed, over and over again. She is virtually thrown into it. The overall impression is that of playfulness. Or of violence. By and by, it becomes impossible not to think of violence. The offender is not seen, but his or her presence can still be perceived. Iris keeps her mouth shut. We are never told about what goes on. Too often violence and abuse continue without being discovered by the surroundings.

As the exhibition demonstrates, feminism is still a hot topic. And if art related to feminism, as Dodda Maggy’s video, can have an influence on gender- related social problems, feminism should absolutely continue to be a hot issue. We’ll see if the temperature will rise to boiling hot in the course of the festival week. It’s a pleasure to record the quality of the contemporary art presented in “Feminism Now?!” So let us overcome the fear that women often harbour, the fear of expressing ourselves squarely and plainly; let us remove the hesitant question mark and shout “Feminism Now!”

2 March – 1 April 2006

By Paul Usherwood

Dodda Maggý creates a series of female characters based on personal experiences, which are then enacted in front of a video camera, accompanied by piano music composed and played by herself, sometimes re-worked using a simple recording technique, building layers as if sculpting. She creates audiovisual narratives that objectify the female body without degrading it to the status of a mere object. Digitally manipulated in post-production the characters are eerily illuminated and set within a void space, adding to the theatrical nature of the work. She edits the video in the same manner as one composes music; with highs and lows and a certain rhythm designed to create tension and heightened emotions. This method allows the work to communicate self and body as experienced in a context where existence is challenged or threatened.
Both video and music have the ability to construct narrative. Maggý uses both to attract her audience’s attention and then hold it until the end of the piece. She deliberately stretches the limit of how far she can take a certain emotion, sometimes to the point of being over-dramatic, leaving the viewer unclear as to her exact intentions – is she being serious or joking? This ambiguity gives the audience space to draw their own conclusions as to what the work is about.
‘Video/Music’ brings together two video works by the artist. Stella (2004) consists of two projections, back to back. In the first projection, a female character is shown walking, aware of being watched. Initially, she appears to enjoy the attention and flirts with the viewer. However, she gradually becomes uncomfortable with the gaze and frantically tries to escape it. In the second projection, two girls hop up and down in slow motion. As they take their bunny hoods off it transpires they are identical. They continue to jump euphorically and end up on the ground, touching and flirting with each other.

In Margret (2005), a small monitor shows a girl dancing in circles against a black background. She is reminiscent of a figurine in a music box, a ballerina on stage, or a woman dancing in a peepshow. In between advancing and retreating, she falls down repeatedly. Close-ups are evocative of melodramatic scenes from the black and white silent days of early cinema. The process is both enchanting and slightly disturbing to watch. One might think of it as a metaphor for the process of experimental creation: you begin somewhere, fall and stand up again, fall, stand up and so on.

The dramas and dilemmas of the desiring gaze emerge as a main theme of Dodda Maggy’s two video installations in this exhibition.

Stella (2004) comes in two parts. Part one begins with two girls bouncing up and down against a black background on what is probably a trampoline. Slow motion and a Debussy-ish piano score of tumbling scales and arpeggios (specially composed and performed by the artist) combine to suggest the intoxicating fun they are having. However, we soon discover this is not just the Billy Elliot-ish fun of bouncing up and down; it’s also the joy of simply being together. They clearly find each other irresistible. And this is confirmed by the closing scene where the two of them are shown sitting on the ground, gazing into each other’s eyes.

So what is their relationship? Are they lovers? Are they identical sisters? Is one of them the doppelgänger of the other – the kind of perfect imaginary friend that some children like to invent? Certainly, although they wear different coloured T-shirts and leggings, in many ways they seem uncannily alike. Before we can get any answers, however, the second part of the piece on the wall opposite starts up.

The lack of a sound track in part two seems to confirm that the young woman whose face we watch has a very different mood. Like the ‘girls’ in part one this character is also played by the artist. However, this is not immediately apparent. On the contrary, initially she seems happy enough to be the object of another’s (the viewer’s) gaze as she walks along. Her jewellery, hair and make-up suggest she is at an event of some kind, a film premiere perhaps, and she’s confident she’s looking good. Gradually though we realize she finds the viewer’s attentions intrusive, even threatening and the second part of the work ends with her in obvious distress walking faster and faster, and finally breaking into a run,
in a desperate attempt to escape.

It might seem therefore from this description that Stella is a pretty straightforward exercise in fetishistic scopophilia, albeit the narrative in each part remains unresolved. Indeed, the moment when terrified and tearful the young woman tries to hide from view might be seen as distinctly Hitchcockian in character. However, it does not come across like that. This is mostly because of the way the two parts are projected: not in a conventional manner but one after another, on opposite walls of the gallery. For what this does is ensure that at a certain moment we are obliged to turn and face in a new direction: a simple device but one that means that we feel estranged from the narrative; we have to engage with it in a way which is active rather than passive.

A similar Brechtian device occurs in the other work in the exhibition, Margret (2005). Here what prevents us from becoming immersed in the narrative is the fact that we have to listen to the accompanying soundtrack through headphones and have to view the image on a monitor that is just a few centimeters across. Because it’s so tiny all we are able to make out is a tiny white speck in the dark. However, when, rather clumsily, the camera moves in closer it becomes clear what this is. It is a young woman in slightly childish clothes (the infantilized woman again) spinning round and round, playing that game beloved of small children where you spin round until you make yourself dizzy and cannot stand up anymore.

I say ‘game’ because initially, as we watch her spin round, fall to the ground, get up, and start spinning again that is how it seems. Indeed, for a while it is possible to imagine a smile playing on her lips. However, as the sequence repeats itself not just once, but two, three times, this hardly seems appropriate. It is evident she has lost control and is continuing more or less against her will.

But why? What drives her on? At one level it could be the music we hear on the headphones for the impression is that this is being played by some invisible piano-playing authority figure. It is melodious but the way it is repeated over and over has a relentless, domineering quality. However, perhaps it is not so much this as we ourselves who are responsible for her ordeal. How come? Well, there is something about the business of viewing her ‘game’ on a tiny screen that makes one feel like a scientist in charge of an animal experiment or a pleasure-seeker operating an end-of-the-pier peepshow or one of those pirouetting ballerinas in a wind-up music box that you play with as a child.

Is Margret therefore in some way a feminist reflection on the role cinema plays in the construction of the image of woman? Interestingly, the fact that the woman wears starkly black and white clothes coupled with the slightly hammy, theatrical way she throws up her hands every time she falls to the ground and the clumsy camera movement gives the piece a decidedly archaic, early-cinema feel. It does seem therefore as if we are being asked to consider the way in which during its history cinema as an apparatus has served to manage pleasure for its viewers in accordance with the psychic formations of masculine sexuality positioning woman as image and man as the bearer of the look, as Laura Mulvey’s famous essay puts it. Indeed, in common with Stella, Margret might be read as an illustration of Mulvey’s thesis that in patriarchal culture the image of woman is “bound by the symbolic in which man can live out his fantasies and obsession through linguistic command imposing them on the silent image of woman still tied to her place as bearer and not maker of meanings”.

© Dodda Maggý