- MARHAUG Rita, Norwegian Liquid, 2011. Grimsøy, Lofoten. August 2011. Photo. Emilie Marhaug.
(Rita Marhaug) : ‘‘The performance series Norwegian Liquid has developed over several years to encompass a number of elements it has met along the way. Black and white; visually and linguistically, an ultimate contrast. Skin; the interface between individual and world. Identity; central in my art production in a variety of contexts, and especially in my early works focusing on feminity and masculinity, children and adults.
Norwegian Liquid deals with the identity in tension between individual and nation. Our national and individual understanding often runs in contrast. The same can be said about reality and idea of nation, as well as of individual: Norway is presented as a country of pristine nature, while in fact we are the seventh largest oil exporter in the world. The individual is pulled between a tradionally moderate culture with roots in the rural, and a limitless, international, post-industrial infotainment society.
The black oil soaking through the figure’s white clothing is reminiscent of Puls. The scene however, is a very different one on a summer in 2011: One of the many beaches on Gimsøya in Lofoten, overlooking the Norwegian Sea and the Nordland VI, VII and Troms II; the battlefield between oil production and nature conservation.
The oil changes white to black, and eventually skin and sand turn black with oil. Corresponding to the blood volume of an adult, five litres of oil are soaked through, and then the figure moves backwards into the sea and is swallowed by the waves. The body is eventually washed up on the beach.
One year later and the strategy has changed, the situation has become both more realistic and surreal. My old enamel bath is placed on our boat landing, on the north side of Vestvågøy, bathed in sunshine on a July day in 2012. The bathtub is filled with a barrel of oil. The figure arrives on the little white beach and lowers herself into the black liquid filled bathtub. When she emerges from the bathtub she wades into the sea and swims.
The bathtub scenarion was recreated in the Bonington Gallery (Nottingham University) for the exhibition opening on 8th January 2013. With a large audience in attendance, the performance took on a very different context from six months earlier. This time, with the gallery’s physical presence and strong smell of the oil, the performance provided a variety of associations and interpretations that never came into play in Lofoten.
Although the English public is no stranger to oil political economy, there were more existential and/or abstract aspects of the work that came to light within the gallery walls. The relationships between the solid and the liquid, the oil and the body, the dry, fair skin and the wet, shiny oil, activated a restlessness of terms such as black-white and subject-object in the viewer.’’ (text: The Living In The Dead)