Kunsthall Trondheim’s last exhibition for the season will be a presentation of a new installation by Simen Engen Larsen. The title points to the geological term watershed — a line often following topographical ridges such as mountains and which decides the direction in which water flows. Rain falling on one side of the line will ultimately end up in another river or ocean than that which falls on the other side of the watershed.
Simen Engen Larsen works mainly with found materials, images from old newspapers and books, to which he then makes alterations which changes the reading and understanding of the image. It can be a matter of addition — in which case he uses the image as a starting point for continued drawing and painting on its surface. And it can be a matter of exclusions — using cut outs and visual isolation of details. The changes in the images are not always easy to discern, it’s the subtle changes and the fine lines between one reading and another that interest the artist here. If every image tells a story, narration is here altered with a fine line made with a pencil — just as the watershed line decides the direction of flowing water and the future context.
This change of context can also be to change the direction of the image by presenting it lying flat on the floor or on a built surface, in which case the viewer also adds to the alteration of meaning by moving around in the exhibition room and changing position in relation to the image. The change in the viewer’s perception add to the uncertainty of the image, its meaning floating as the water that is present in most of the works by Simen Engen Larsen.
The gravitation that makes water flow is also affecting the human figures that inhabit these works. Falling or floating, seen at a distance or without recognizable features they express a fragility that can be understood as a fundamental human condition. Fragmented and subject to forces outside of the personal body, these figures sometimes even become a kind of alphabet, signs not of language but of the human as such. The works oscillates between the physical — fragments sometimes even step out of the paper and are manifested as sculptural elements — and the ephemeral.
The image, the body and the history coexist with and within the archive. These works emerge out of the artist’s collection of images, a growing and changing entity in which connections and new histories evolve and withdraw simultaneously. The original histories erode with time only to be replaced by new interpretations and new narratives.
Simen Engen Larsen was born 1983 in Kabelvåg, Lofoten, Norway. He graduated from Trondheim Art Academy in 2013.