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Artist in residency: Mothership NYC

Artist in residency: Mothership NYC

Through September, when the bustling art season kicks in, I am excited to be back in NYC and at the Mothership, this time around as an artist in residency at the rooftop live work space in Greenpoint. Here I plan to dedicate some of my residency time to revisit and rework the glass installation I created for my first solo exhibition in NYC in 2016, the Sound of Silence. Shimmering new work will travel from NYC to UK, for a group exhibition entitled I Am My Own Primal Parent (Sept 28th - 2nd Nov) at KARST, Plymouth’s largest independent contemporary art venue. A show curated by NYC-based radical siren Katie Cercone. Other female artists included are Melanie Bonajo, NARCISSISTER and Go Push Pops.

On September 11, 2018, together with Alexandra Arts which I founded, I will be bringing the spirit of my most recent venture, the Pankhurst in the Park (PitP) festival 2014-18, from Manchester to New York with a “PitP infused art salon”, hosted in and by Mothership NYC.

It will feature a performance by New York-based collective ULTRACULTURAL OTHERS, and work by PitP commissioned UK artist Anna FC Smith. Travelling from the EMINENT DOMAIN flash exhibition staged at the former blue-chip Robert Miller gallery space in West Chelsea in July, it has organically stemmed from Alexandra Arts recent collaboration with online based NYC’s ART 511 Magazine. This Spring, we teamed up and produced a limited-edition print commission - a publication marking International Women’s Day (March 8th) and the centenary of women over thirty earning the right to vote in England. Read it online here. At this event, catch me in conversation with ART 511 Magazine publisher Scotto Mycklebust.

This year’s will be the final Pankhurst in the Park Festival. There will be a closing ceremony at Last Frontier NYC in Greenpoint, on September 21, 2018. Everyone is invited to join me in celebrating this four-year initiative committed to providing a platform for women in the arts by commissioning a stunningly broad array of artists, performers, makers, and critics and reaching out to all members of the community regardless of gender, class, or cultural background through workshops, open exhibitions, performances, and other events. This is the last chance to catch UK based Anna FC Smith’s work tour of NYC.

Pankhurst in the Park 2018 program of events is funded by Arts Council England, Manchester City Council Department of Culture, St Mary's Primary School, Friends of Alexandra Park and the Neighborhood Investment Fund from the Whalley Range ward.

ART 511 MAG

ART 511 MAG

'Sound of Silence' exhibition review 

Artist and writer Katie Cercone did a shimmering review of my solo exhibition 'Sound of Silence' in New York last September. It's now available to view at the newly launched online magazine Art 511 Mag.  A big thank you goes out to Katie, but also artist and publisher Scotto Mycklebust who invited me to be the first, in a Visiting Artist series, at studio 511, in collaboration with West Chelsea Artists Open Studios. Read the review here

In a highly competitive and commercialized industry like art, where working together or calling yourself “feminist” isn’t always a safe or lucrative career move, Karlsen’s insistence on following through with her total vision for integration of self and community feels all encompassing in her radically interdisciplinary work. Her dexterity with the medium of glass and subtle meditation on the nature of life and death promises to shine through in this kinetic, effervescent installation for many moons
— Katie Cercone, via Art 511 Mag
Art 511 Mag

Alexandra Arts has also been named by Art 511 Mag as one of '10 Organisations helping Artists build community' with Ultracultural Others, Minnesota street projects, Beat Global, Culture Push + others. I am thrilled, to be connected to so many forward thinking creatives who are smashing up the conventional mould of 'community arts'. We are also the only organisation on the list based outside the US! Read the full article here

In addition to their dynamic offerings in the park, Alexandra Arts is perhaps best know for its (international) artist residency program Pankhurst in the Park. Inspired largely by the legacy of the suffragette activism that took place in Alexandra Park and named for iconic movement leader Emmeline Pankhurst, Pankhurst in the Park is a comprehensive program empowering the community to engage deeply with their local environment and social history. A program which provides a platform for the work of primarily female artists, Pankhurst in the Park also partners with neighboring schools and community groups on integrated creative initiatives bringing together artists and local residents.
— Art 511 Mag

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 

Recap Miami Art Basel 2014

Recap Miami Art Basel 2014

NEW video out for SELECT - Miami Art Basel; 2014. Below is text from the press release and pictures from my time out there.....

Manchester’s Alexandra Arts celebrated on international stage at Miami Art Basel

From 3rd to 6th December, Alexandra Arts’ founder and Pankhurst in the Park curator, Lotte Karlsen, exhibited work inspired by the history of Moss Side’s Alexandra Park to a celebrity audience at SELECT Art Fair as part of Miami Art Basel.

Alexandra Arts was invited to join a group exhibition curated by feminist collective Milk and Night, in a special residency project by New York’s Gallery Sensei. This incredible opportunity saw Manchester-based Alexandra Arts exhibiting alongside a number of high profile feminist artists, including Guerrilla Girls, in a collaboration that brought feminist art to an international stage.

In addition to Guerilla Girls and Lotte Karlsen, collaborating artists included: Kembra Pfahler, Nancy Azara, Nicole Nadeau, Narcissister, Anne Sherwood Pundyk, India Salvor Menuez, Ange (ThreeAsfour), Bianca Casady, Jemima Kirke, Lola Montes Schnabel, Kara Rooney, Virginija Babusyte-Venckuniene, Amanda Keeley, Coco Dolle, Carol-Anne McFarlane, Mika Azegami-Parlá, Samoa, and Victoria de Lesseps.

Guerrilla-style performances were conducted throughout the fair by Legacy Fatale and Alexandra Arts’ Artist in Residence Go! Push Pops. Special guest performer Hari Nef, also premièred part two of ‘i am your girlfriend’ live at the booth. However, it was when Usher stopped to charge his phone using performance artist Lena Marquise’s vagina phone charger, that a film featuring the booth at Select went viral.

Commenting on the collaboration, Lotte said, “Our stand at SELECT provided great exposure for the work we are doing in Manchester to create a platform for female artists and celebrate the feminist legacy of Alexandra Park. It was fantastic opportunity to participate in the international Art Fair, to solidify connections to the New York scene and carve the way for future collaborations between artists in Manchester and the United States.

The booth at Select Fair is a unique project on the map of Miami Art Basel, the only commercial booth solely dedicated to feminist artists and its various conversations.

Coco Dolle, Founding Director of Milk and Night, said: “We will stand as ambassadors of this feminine consciousness and activate its presence on the art market."

To find out more about what happened, check out the links below.

Legacy Fatale and gopushpops