Nº 8
Week 38, 2014

For this weeks issue of Opaque we’ve interviewed Danish Johanne Skovbo Lasgaard about her process which operates in a field of structuralized coincidence creating intriguing work from series of consistent material experimentation.

Swedish Anna Åstrand engage the gaps between structured material investigation and blatant inconsistency.

The Norwegian artist run space NoPlace sets the bar high when it comes to well formulated non–manifestos and intriguing exhibitions.


– have a nice scroll!

Arranging elements with Johanne skovbo lasgaard

Category: Interview


All work courtesy of the artist. For more information and individual titles please check out Lasgaard’s website here.

Johanne Skovbo Lasgaard’s elements are derivatives of a process of meticulous material variation aimed at an intentionally undefined outcome: “the materials are the narrative,” Johanne says.

– She invited us for a peaceful walk round the tons of exhibited minerals at the Geological Museum of Copenhagen.


By Erik Duckert
Photos by Martin Kurt Haglund

Fluorescent lighting.
Empty halls.

Glass and wood vitrines coated with
sun-bleached felt
display neatly tagged rocks and minerals
in the hundreds.

LASGAARD: “Actually I’m often here with a friend, we’ll call each other: ‘look, look at this one,’ – it’s really just a fundamental fascination of stuff you don’t usually happen upon.

They’re excavated treasures in a way.”

Johanne Skovbo Lasgaard (b. 1985) graduated from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art in 2013 and works with both sculpting and painting.

Her work revolves around a part calculated, part unintentional process of material investigation
culminating in aestheticized objects, or ‘elements’ as she prefers to call them.

L: “I see many of my elements as both registered in my body as well as being exterior extensions of my body. A lot of what happens during the process actually just occurs: it’s the materials, an excavation from the materials.

The materials acquire linguistic qualities.

– I guess they are ways of congregating outside of my self.”



L: “There are these potentials … It is difficult for me to talk about them as finished works of art because often I work with them again or they change as they are put into new constellations.

Of course they are objects but it is like their ‘object-ness’ is dissolved when they are put in new contexts.”

L: “I have this underlying idea that every time I make these material investigations my body stores the data, so my production is a continuous process.

– It is about temporality, a temporality that doesn’t point in any particular direction.”

L: “Often I think it is just about figuring out what the materials are capable of.

Some constellations are structures I assemble, others are structures I break down.”

L: “I like that there’s no meaning except what occurs.

– I am not on a quest for the sublime. Not at all.

The space I enter has more to do with existential or cognitive processes or how the body acquires knowledge.”

We leave the echoing halls of glass cased minerals and enter the nearby botanical garden.

L: “In every translation something is lost and something is added, that becomes particularly evident when verbalizing works of art.

I guess you just have to let go – you can’t fathom everything.”

L: “It is the materials that become the narrative.”

L: “Over time it evolves into a language, an unfamiliar language with a clear intention to communicate but without the desire to be defined.”

L: “The elements are insisting and private at the same time.”

L: “In a way it is like musical compositions: a single tone or a bass, why does it move us?

Scientifically it is just vibrations.

That perspective can be transferred to my elements as well by shifting perception from audio to visual.

The various elements can be addressed as singular objects but it is the constellation of them that creates narrative and force.”


Mailing with: Anna Åstrand

Category: Q&A


All images courtesy of Anna Åstrand, please check out her website for individual titles.

“Being inconsistent forces me to think all the time.”
– Anna Åstrand

Born 1982, she earned her MFA from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm in 2012. Anna Åstrand lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden.

We’ve asked her to elaborate on her practice that involves a high degree of material devotion and a healthy doze of inconsistency.

ÅSTRAND: “I would say my focus is scattered but not confused.

I make a mess and then I tidy: I try to be inconsistent and challenge my own way of thinking and working.

With given structures you can lean back and just follow. In the extension it’s about challenging structures in society, even though it may not be visible at first – or at any glance for that matter.

Small, every day things in relation to grand gestures and divine sceneries and how these small things can have a great impact in the long run: How to describe and define things and what it means to be something, how something moves from being a material to being a sculpture for example, like how much do you need to treat the plaster in order to turn it in to a sculpture.”

Å: “All my work relates to my own body and even though they are very thing-like I see them as some kind of portraits.

I also see them as words, freestanding on their own at the same time as they create different compositions depending on how they are composed.

I try to find a balance, not by putting polar opposites against each other, but by finding the neutral buoyancy within.”

Could you elaborate on the thoughts behind the Desert Act of Memory?

Å: “It’s an archive of its own process. The Desert Act of Memory was produced during an all night 12 h performance at a gallery in Stockholm. It’s made out of electrical scrap, plaster, clay, rebar and chicken wire.

It was a very intuitive process based on the knowledge of hours and hours of working with plaster.

Every action has left a trace, big or small, but it affects the outcome. The title can be read in two ways to me, the desert act of memory, like the desert’s files of its own memories or the desert act of memory, like the lonely action of remembering something.”

Å: “I often look for strengths and weaknesses in materials and then find the best use for it. Materials are important to me and a weakness in a material can be turned to a strength if used the right way.”

Å: “I love geology and nature and how things are stored and how it relates to the human body and memories.”

Featured Space: NoPlace

Category: Spaces

Artists:, , , , ,

All photos courtesy of NoPlace. For additional information and individual titles please visit their website here.

Lately artist run exhibition platforms have gained new momentum on the Scandinavian art scene.

The spaces come in different sizes, have different lifespans and at times very different ideological pursuits. Common for them all, though, is that they depend on the goodwill of artists ready to invest their time in creating alternatives to the commercial galleries and government institutions.

Artist run spaces can be difficult to spot when browsing mainstream media so in every issue of Opaque we’ll give a short presentation of a space that we think you should pay a visit to.

– This week we’ve been in touch with Oslo based NoPlace.

NoPlace is run on a conservative, socialist and anarchistic mandate. Conservative graphic aesthetics,  socialist in that everyone is included and heard and anarchistic to the extent that everything is permitted within the limits created.

The framework is a room and that’s it.

One can say that the site’s function is to be a place of neutrality. By this we mean not an artistic or political neutrality, because the artists we exhibit have strong positions, but because by putting totally different projects up against each other (though never in conflict) we are able to create a chronology in which variations constitute a harmony.

We try to gather the field, but not mask the fact that there are differences and that these differences always will on some level be present.

There is no agenda, which is underlined in the title of the space. We are not a place. We are a platform where people with the need to say anything or do anything living up to a quality criterion that we can live with, can unfold. It’s that simple. What we do is to offer everything we have the capacity to deliver and put whatever comes out of the collaborations into a netral but still subjective framework.

Why did you open NoPlace?

NP: “The question is not why we opened NoPlace. The question is why should we not have opened NoPlace. Why should we not take control of our own situation in our own scene?
Why should we not create a place to meet and become older together and show each other what we’re able to do without the censorship that the art world (controlled with an iron glove by gallerists and curators), represents?
Why should we not create a website summarising in great extent whatever happened in this epoch in our own city in our own country?
Why should we not create a container?
Why should we not define ourselves?

There are many reasons for not doing it, and sometimes we wish we didn’t, but in the end we said fuck it and did it. Because the Latin meaning of the word art is: to do or be able to do. So we decided to… do it. And now we’ve done it for a while and we still haven’t asked ourselves why. We have only asked ourselves why not. And still we haven’t found a reason not to do it.

So we continue doing it. Until we don’t.”

Please elaborate on the curatorial considerations / concept of NoPlace.

NP: “NoPlace has no concept except the specific tastes of the different members at the different times which varies a lot, but as the place continues it is becoming more and more predictable we guess, we just don’t notice because we’re not that self-conscious. The reason for this is probably that we’re getting older and less curious and less egocentric. We need each other more now.”

What are your thoughts on the recent development on the artist run scene in Oslo?

NP: “More or less great people do more or less great things and these people mostly don’t give a toss about what other people think. If they do they are not artists. They are ethical and aesthetic slaves.”

What are the future aspirations of NoPlace?

NP: “We have no future. Like you have no future. Because life is a circle.”

NoPlace was established in 2011 by Jason HavneraasKristian SkylstadKaren NikgolHans Christian SkovholtStian W. Gabrielsen and Petter Buhagen.

For the entire exhibition catalogue and individual titles please visit NoPlace’s website here
– or just pass by: Oslogate 2B, 0192 Oslo, Norway.