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.