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Reflections: Sound of Silence

Reflections: Sound of Silence

Reflections: Sound of Silence

Since I can remember, I have fantasized about taking my own life. Not in the brutal and selfish way, I wanted to go out slitting my wrist, quietly fading away pain free without a single witness. My fantasy of insular death was a disillusion at best. Every action we take massively affects others.  What began as a sad, angry, childlike form of escapism caught up with me later in life. When I was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer in my early thirties, I began to understand that my death wish was a deep rooted longing to come home to myself – to my soul - released from the shackles of my physical body and the traumas of the mundane world. Initially I pretended the cancer wasn’t happening, struggling to avoid the deep depression lurking around the bend. Eventually, this marked the beginning of a deep emotional and spiritual decent. Deep diving into darkness, I searched desperately for my soul. The experience offered a brutal awakening – an opportunity to really take a look at myself, fundamentally expanding my perceptions about existence.

Where I was born, there are no universities or specialist colleges. People leave home to get their degrees, some at a young age.  Many never leave at all. I left my family in the North of Norway as a child to live with my Mum in Oslo. At the age of 17-years-old, I left my Mum’s place over a boiling, adolescent rage for my stepfather.  I studied art glass in Sweden and eventually settled in the UK, living further and further away from my family and friends as time passed. It was as if somewhere along the way I had adopting the mantra trust nobody. I stopped connecting with people in anyway that could be described as whole, authentic and vulnerable. You cannot selectively numb yourself. You can’t numb grief, sadness, shame and disappointment without depressing the body’s natural ability to feel and express joy, happiness and gratitude. The more I attempted to numb with antisocial and addictive behaviours, the more my life lacked purpose and meaning.

I began studying for my Masters Degree in Manchester just ten weeks before my cancer diagnosis. Despite myself, and my routine insistence on living in my head, my body was crying out with truth. My MA research focused on my own community, specifically on the nearly abandoned Victorian Park next door to my home, which would eventually lead to starting the non-profit artist collective Alexandra Arts. My goal was to create the perfect project for the communities surrounding Alexandra Park…what better place to look for a sense love and belonging? Reconnecting with nature was a key part of the healing process, and felt much like going home.

Eventually things started falling into place. As it turns out, we can’t practice compassion if we don’t treat ourselves kindly. Each and every one of us is hardwired for connection, that’s why we are here. Without the opportunity to love and be loved by others we are nothing. Within the complexity of human connection exists life’s most precious gifts – love, joy, hope, courage and compassion. And creativity. For real connection to take place one must allow oneself to be seen, deeply and authentically. Our society’s overarching rejection of vulnerability often stems from an avoidance of humanity’s darkest emotions - fear, shame, grief, sadness, and disappointment—emotions that we don’t want to discuss, even when they profoundly affect the way we love, live and work.

As a female artist in a patriarchal art world, the odds are stacked against me. To put my art and ideas out into the world with no assurance of acceptance or appreciation—is a daily exercise in being vulnerable. My battle with cancer woke me up to the fact that the creative work I do is fundamental to life; it’s not a luxury, not for the privileged few. My love and passion for what I do has a direct and positive effect on others. Through this process, and accepting my cancer as part of my soul’s own design, I’ve found the courage to be imperfect, to be enough.  I have an increasingly greater clarity of purpose and live a more meaningful spiritual life, one involving more emotional risks, more loving, more compassion for others and myself. One thing that became clear was a necessity to work with other people. Redirecting my energy towards others has been a very healing element of this process.

The work on show at Studio 511 bridges my past with my current work. A black & white photograph on the back wall depicts the feminine motif I designed to be the essential pattern representing my work with the communities surrounding Alexandra Park. Situated in front of the photo canvas, a shimmering shower of tear-shaped crystals flows from floor to ceiling. The mass of crystals is installed vertically, strung to follow the curvaceous forms of the image behind. In my return to my original medium – glass – I offer a glimpse of my vulnerability, fragility, my light, my love. In the poetics of the space, and the luminous, radiant colour signatures embedded in the subtle contours of crystals, I offer viewers a reflection of my deep and personal journey into self-expansion.

Sound of Silence: by Lotte Karlsen

8th - 24th September 2016

Studio 511, West Chelsea Arts Building, 526 West 26th St. New York, NY 1001

Preview: Thursday 8th September, 6- 8 pm

Opening times: Tuesday – Saturday 12 – 6pm, and Thursday’s 6 – 8pm

This exhibition is a collaboration between West Chelsea Artists Open Studios, artist and feminist writer Katie Cercone, of Go Push Pops and ‘Pankhurst in the Park’ 2016 programme of events, funded by the Arts Council of England.

 Read the press release here 

Lotte  Karlsen  solo  exhibition  'Sound  of  Silence'  in  New York

Lotte Karlsen solo exhibition 'Sound of Silence' in New York

Press Release

Shimmering Sound of Silence travels across the Atlantic

On Thursday 8 September, Norwegian Artist, Lotte Karlsen will officially open her solo exhibition 'Sound of Silence' in West Chelsea Art studios, New York City, as the final installment of an arts programme connecting female artists across the Atlantic.

Highlights:

  • Manchester (UK) based collective, Alexandra Arts, celebrates the final installment of Pankhurst in the Park 2016 arts programme in New York City.
  • The solo show entitled 'Sound of Silence' will showcase a glass installation - involving 241 crystals - by Norwegian artist, Lotte Karlsen.
  • The pop-up exhibition will launch on Thursday 8 September 6-8pm at Studio 511, West Chelsea Arts Building, West 26th St. New York, NY, and runs until 24 September.
  • The exhibition will be housed inside a small white cube nestled inside artist Scotto Mycklebust's studio - executive producer of the Public Art Squad Project. Visitors will have exclusive access to this private artist studio, which is based in the heart of West Chelsea's Arts district.
  • Sarah Gavron, director of award-winning 2015 film, Suffragette, was one of several female artists to have taken part in the Pankhurst in the Park programme, which has also involved New York artists collectives Go! Push Pops and Legacy Fatale.

With an exhibition housed inside a white cube entitled ‘Sound of Silence’, Lotte Karlsen returns to her specialist medium of glass for what will be her first solo show in New York, to create a site specific work which explores and deals with her relationship to her own mortality.

Lotte Karlsen, Artist, founder of Alexandra Arts and curator of Pankhurst in the Park, commented:

"For this final installment of Pankhurst in the Park 2016 in New York City, I’m delighted to have my work showcased in the heart of the west side of Chelsea; NYC’s premier contemporary-art district. 'Sound of Silence' is an opportunity for me to return to the beginning of my career and specialist medium - glass - which I feel best reflects the fragility of the subject matter. I felt it was time for me to delve deeper and create work that deals with some of the more difficult and darker aspects of my life but through a medium that quite literally shines a light on the more positive outcomes.
In my early thirties I had a brush with cancer, which changed the course of my life and outlook on my work, leading me to found Alexandra Arts and develop the work I do within my own community, especially through Pankhurst in the Park." 

Curated by the Manchester-based, artist-led collective, Alexandra Arts, Pankhurst in the Park 2016 is inspired by Alexandra Park - a Victorian Park in Manchester - and its rich historical connection to the Suffrage Movement, whose iconic leader, Emmeline Pankhurst, was born and bred yards from the Park in the neighbouring Moss Side Estate.

This exhibition, Sound of Silence, marks the end of the Pankhurst in the Park 2016 programme, which aims to empower the local communities around Alexandra Park and beyond through engagement with their local environment and social history, and to promote the wealth of talented female artists in Manchester and beyond by providing a platform for their work.

'Sound of Silence' represents a collaboration with Lotte Karlsen, West Chelsea artist Scotto Mycklebust, and artist and feminist writer Katie Cercone, co-founder of NYC radical artist duo Go! Push Pops. Go! Push Pops were artists in residence for Pankhurst in the Park 2014.

'Sound of Silence' will celebrate its opening on Thursday the 8th of September, from 6-8pm, with a public launch and drinks reception. The exhibition is free and open to the public from 8th - 24th September 2016. Opening times are 12-6pm from Tuesday to Saturday, and 6-8pm on Thursdays. In conjunction with the exhibition, on Thursday the 22nd of September, a new online-based magazine, called ART 511, will also be launched.

For more information, visit: www.alexandra-arts.org.uk

For further information, images and interviews please contact: Amy Clancy press@alexandra-arts.org.uk | www.alexandra-arts.org.uk | @AlexArtsMCR #pankhurstinthepark

NOTES TO EDITORS

Lotte Karlsen

Lotte Karlsen FRSA, born 1974 in Hammerfest, Norway is a multidisciplinary artist working fluidly across the boundaries of fine art, social practice, sculpture and craft. Currently living and working in Manchester, UK. Karlsen earned an early degree in glass blowing from the world renowned Kosta Glass School in Sweden's Crystal Kingdom. Later obtaining an MA in Art as Environment at Manchester Institute for Research and Innovation in Art and Design (MIRIAD), her work in recent years has blurred the lines of conceptualism, artivism and craft. She has exhibited her work in London, Milan, Tokyo, Seoul, Barcelona, Paris, New York and throughout Scandinavia.

http://www.synchronizedliquid.com/#lotte-karlsen

West Chelsea Artist Studios

'Sound of Silence' will be exhibited inside a small white cube inside artist Scotto Mycklebust's studio, which is located in West Chelsea Artist studio complex in New York. The building houses galleries, multiple artists and art dealers, and resides close to the far west side of Chelsea — the city of New York's premier contemporary-art district — which is home to high-profile spaces including Gagosian Gallery and Gladstone Gallery.

http://westchelseaartists.com/

Alexandra Arts

Founded in 2010 by Norwegian Artist, Lotte Karlsen, Alexandra Arts is an artist-led collective based in Manchester's Alexandra Park. The collective aims to empower the local community around the park through engagement with their local environment and social history, and to promote the wealth of talented female artists in Manchester, and beyond, by providing a platform for their work. In 2014, Alexandra Arts established Pankhurst in the Park to highlight Alexandra Parks rich historical connection to the Suffrage Movement and its inspiring socio-political heritage, which has until now has left no trace locally.

http://www.alexandra-arts.org.uk/

Pankhurst in the Park 2016

Pankhurst in the Park 2016 is an Arts Council England and Manchester City Council funded, public programme of artist commissions, an international artist in residency and outreach and educational programme, which took place in Manchester from March – May, 2016 and will arrive in New York between August - September, 2016. Curated by the Manchester-based, artist-led collective, Alexandra Arts, Pankhurst in the Park is inspired by Alexandra Parks rich historical connection to the Suffrage Movement, whose iconic leader, Emmeline Pankhurst, was born and bred only yards from the Park in the neighbouring Moss Side estate. The 2016 programme, builds on the hugely successful events of 2014/15.

http://www.alexandra-arts.org.uk/pankhurst-in-the-park/