Exhibition text, As Spaces Folds, Companions Meet. Oslo Kunstforening, 2016





Oslo Kunstforening is proud to present the first artist in our 180th anniversary year: London-based Norwegian Eline McGeorge, with the exhibition “As Spaces Fold, Companions Meet”.


In “As Spaces Fold, Companions Meet” folds are a visual and thematic motif. The exhibition also refers to a science fiction inspired interpretation of folded space, which allows fictional and actual characters to meet and be cast into new constellations across time and space. Alienation and hybridisation are recurring traits of the characters populating these works.

Eline McGeorge’s work spans abstraction, concrete references and documentary. Democratic problems, environmental issues, feminist legacy and science fiction comprise McGeorge’s oeuvre. These themes are brought together through drawing, animation, collage, and artist books; and a particular interest in folds (as mentioned above); pixels and weaving.


Room 1

This exhibition brings together works from the period 2003-2015, which are spread across the three rooms, and not necessarily chronologically presented.

On the wall to the left hangs a portrait of the feminist pioneer Virginia Woolf woven into a portrait of Valentina Tereshkova from 1963, the first female cosmonaut. The Woolf-Tereshkova character emerges here as a space explorer, exploring the space available to her as a woman and looking into a future of freedom and equality. This work is part of the series “A World of Our Own” (2009-2012) consisting of collages, sculpture and the video that you will find in room two.


Three more Cosmo characters hang vis-à-vis on the wall structure: Kate Bush, Nina Hagen and Maya Deren. Bush was the first woman with a number one on the UK music hit lists with a song both written and performed by a woman. Nina Hagen and Maya Deren are pioneers within punk music and avant-garde film making.


The large-scale work “Folding Emergency Weave” (2015) in the middle is made of woven emergency blankets and is part of a series begun in 2012. “Biomatic Encounters”, which consists of 28 pencil drawings, continues McGeorge exploration of the Biomat-character from the video “With the Free Rider into the Oil Age and Beyond “(2014) shown in room three.


Room 2

The video “A World of Our Own” (2012) is a montage of animation, video recordings, found footage and sound. A sci-fi element weaves together the various Cosmo characters across time and space. Kate Bush for example, appears in full spacesuit in a clip from “The Dreaming” from 1982, the first album she produced herself. The financial district of the City of London makes a backdrop for the video, introducing discussions about the financial crash in 2009 and questions about a sustainable future society.


The video shows an animated folded sheet of paper, which is also presented in the exhibition as large-scale prints by the works “Folded Space (A World of Our Own)”. The folding and scanning of a sheet of paper forms an abstracted image of the idea of ​​the folded space where the characters in the exhibition meet.


The sculpture “Not Yet Titled” is made up of found concrete from a demolition site just outside the financial district and emergency blankets used during the Occupy movement demonstrations in the area.


The accompanying book A-W-O-R-L-D-O-F-O-U-R-O-W-N, in room three, contains a transcript of the video, which together with collages weave together the various references in the video. The book is printed on paper made from recycled British banknotes, and the incompatibility between the two paper sizes (A4 and US letter) gives the book its hybrid form.


Hundreds of seed capsules in the second and the third room form a pixelated pattern on the floor. The capsules are based on a recipe by Masanobu Fukuoka, – the permaculture pioneer who wrote the book “One-Straw Revolution” (1978). He developed a regenerating form of agriculture and replanted manmade deserts by the use of seed capsules. The seed capsules in the exhibition have been developed specially for the Norwegian ecosystem in collaboration with a plant sociologist from Efferus Veksthus.


Rooms 3

The video “With the Free Rider into the Oil Age and Beyond” (2014) in the last room is based on the Norwegian TV series “Blindpassasjer” from 1978. McGeorge’s video discusses the paradox between the social democratic ideas Statoil was built on and the international competition for resources the company is part of.


One of the characters in “Blindpassasjer” is called a Biomat, a digitized figure. In the TV series, the Biomat is portrayed as a protector of nature but an enemy of people, which is itself a paradox leading to its destruction by the human characters in the series.


Eline McGeorge’s recent work continues the Biomat-character from “With the Free Rider into the Oil Age and Beyond” to the present in the meeting between species, seeds, pixels and machine. During the climate conference in Paris recently, one of the slogans was “We are nature defending itself”, which fits well with the mind-set of the Biomat.


Endangered species, people, vegetation and a picture of UFOs appear in the second weave in the exhibition, “Companions Species, Emergency Weave” (2015). Depending on the viewing angel, more or less of the motives appear in between the reflections of the woven emergency blankets.


One of the motifs in the weave is a wolf-like creature, a “maned wolf”, which has long deer-like legs. It is almost extinct because it is hunted in the belief of its magical properties and its fur. The yellow jackal can also be seen in between the weave. It has fled to new habitats as the original habitats are disappearing and the animal is now for the first time observed in Scandinavia.


Eline McGeorge’s latest work discusses Donna Haraway’s approach to the term “Anthropocene”, which has been proposed as the new geological epoch defined by man’s impact on nature.


In contrast to this man-centred view, Haraway focuses on symbiosis, networks, coexistence, and feminism; “eco” instead of “ego”. Haraway is best known for her feminist manifesto: “A Cyborg Manifesto” (1983) and several of Eline McGeorge titles refer directly to Haraway’s book “When Species Meet” (2008).


There will be a conversation between Eline McGeorge and Maki Suzuki from the design collective åbäke, London, and the wax woman Fatima at Oslo Kunstforening Wednesday February 17th, 6pm.


The book “As Spaces Fold, Companions Meet” will be produced after the exhibition. It will contain works from the exhibition and texts by Eline McGeorge and the art critics and historians Marcus Verhagen, Marit Paasche and Marianne Hultman. This will be the first time McGeorge works with a publication that presents her artistic activity over a period of time.

Internationally Eline McGeorge has had an extensive exhibition activity. In Norway she has most recently participated in «Vi lever på en stjerne», Henie Onstad kunstsenter (2014), Momentum, Moss (2009) and Fotogalleriet (2007). Her exhibition at Oslo Kunstforening is her most extensive presentation in Norway so far.

«As Spaces Fold, Companions Meet» has been made possible by the generous support from the Norwegian Association of Art Societies, the Arts Council Norway, Statens utstillingsstipend and Billedkunstnernes vederlagsfond.


Eline McGeorge is represented by the gallery Hollybush Gardens, London. Oslo Kunstforening is supported by the Arts Council Norway and the City of Oslo.




We Are Living On A Star, Catalogue text, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, 2014

The works presented by Eline McGeorge investigate paradoxes within the social democratic ‘normality’. The use of science fiction and the grid are common denominators: the weaving grid, the grid façade of the High-rise governmental building in Oslo, and the Norwegian science fiction television series Blindpassasjer (1978). The series was directed by Stein Roger Bull and written by Jon Bing and Tor Åge Bringsværd—the latter two were strongly inspired by Harry Martinson’s Aniara. 

The plot in Blindpassasjer, which means Stowaway, is simple: After a completed research project on an unknown red planet, the Norwegian starship Marco Polo returns to headquarters. While the ship accelerates beyond the speed of light and the crew lies dormant, the silhouette of a figure appears on the surveillance monitors. The figure is a “biomat,” an artificial human made out of a cloud of programmable molecules, who enters the starship from the unknown planet, and whose mission is to protect the planet’s ecological balance. Both the starship and the headquarters are considered a potential threat. McGeorge’s video uses clips from Blindpassasjer, drawn animations, and documentary material to establish new connections between past, present, and future. As a result, the connections tell about Norway, Norwegian paradoxes, and the foundation of social democracy.

In both the video and the artist book, the plot from Blindpassasjer (referred to in these works as the Free Rider) is rewritten into a timeline that takes as a starting point the construction of the High-rise governmental building at the end of the 1950s and the social democratic ideas coded into its architecture. In the rewritten Blindpassasjer plot, the High-rise plays the role of the headquarters. The text follows some of the principles that laid the foundation of the social democratic model, the organization of Statoil, and the distribution of oil wealth. In McGeorge’s video and artist book, themes from Blindpassasjer represent issues raised at the beginning of the oil age and changes the oil industry made to the Norwegian society at the time of the film (1978). The timeline continues up to today and today’s version of Statoil as a multinational corporation, and further into a paradoxical future still haunted by the “biomat.” The “happy ending” in Blindpassasjer’s original plot, where the “biomat” is eliminated, is swapped with a parallel to Aniara, the epic poem that the tapestry We Are Living on a Star is believed to refer to.

In the apparently abstract pattern of the two woven works, another paradox is investigated. Their titles refer to a sociological term for the large gender segregation within the Norwegian society—The Norwegian Paradox. The starting point of these works is an inquiry into the gender distribution of solo shows in Oslo galleries and of works purchased by national collections over the last years. Investigations, done by the artist, show that the proportions of artworks and shows made by women in different parts of the art sector are between twentyone and twenty-six percent. The black rubber in the striped weave represent the “missing” artworks in these investigations, referred to by the artist as “dark matter,” while the monochrome silver weave points towards a “vision” of equal visibility of artistic production.