by a rawlings
2013, 2015

During a visit to Lofoten, Nordland, Norway in November 2013, NORD emerged. The collection features a photograph series of sound museums, juxtaposing the wintry and dark Arctic north with Norwegian signifiers– lyd (sound), lys (light), ord (word), nord (north), navn (name). NORD also includes a long poem investigating the Norwegian idiom “Det er ugler i mosen / There are owls in the moss,” which implies that mischief is at hand.
Oslo's Pilot Project included an excerpt entited "X X X" from NORD in its inaugural exhibition The Word's Head, Autumn 2015. The excerpt was published in an accompanying catalogue. Here is a description of this work:

X X X is a triptych that engages the themes of disappearance and public. For the public aspect, I tie together two subjects related to the notion of the commons — #1: language that circulates in public space and #2: other-than-human entities that co-depend on the commons.

The curious infantilization of sexuality present in public signs that boast “Girls! Girls! Girls!” touts a contentious language no doubt part of an ongoing challenge to cede the sex industry as a safe work zone that proffers respect to its workers. In English and other languages, the female body undergoes not only infantilization, but also frequent association to animal bodies (bitch, fox, cow, bird, chick, etc.). The first sign swaps out the famous sex-advertisement with the word for a critically endangered species that has also struggled under public misconception in its plight for co-habitation. Norway saw the near extirpation of Scandinavian wolves in the 1960s, but their reintroduction has seen rural numbers rise slowly and steadily over the subsequent decades. Juxtaposing the advert-chant with species awareness troubles both intra- and interspecies relations by politicizing fetishist management.



The second sign functions in relation to the first, with each ‘x’ situated in the approximate location of where each “Wolves!” appeared in the first image. With multiple allusions, ‘x’ in triplicate signals the illicit (X-rated, triple-X) — but each individual ‘x’ can trigger alternative readings of removal, erasure, treasure, selection. The resonance of ‘x’ with ‘Wolves!’ — dialogic between the risograph prints — recalls death and pornography. In a non-confrontational but direct manner, the ‘x’ also troubles lessening/worsening public knowledge around other-than human entities.

[2 TEXT]
  x             x               x

The final inclusion in the triptych works to resituate the species within a well-known Scandinavian idiom in the environment ascribed to them. “There are owls in the moss” conventionally implies that mischief is afoot. Idioms such as these, widely in public circulation, shift human relationship to both owls and moss, so that these species become something over than what they are within this human rendering. By repopulating the idiom with other species that may, in fact, be in moss (wolves and elk), the original owls and moss are similarly reclaimed for their habitats while the familiar public idiom undergoes interrogation.

[3 TEXT]
Det er ugler i mosen.
Det er ulver i mosen.
Det er elger i mosen.