Henry Martin: How do you work?
Marie Thams: I work research- and concept-based to create enclosing, critical work. I’m driven by questions of the current valorisation of human activities in western society, our working culture’s dictation of identity and artistic value, and the relation between biological body and social/political status. I aim to create enclosing installations, and lately my focus has been on sound and spacial installations as well as performative gestures. I often combine sound, text, video, and sculptural and performative elements, resulting in larger installations, and have a special focus on spoken, poetic text (Spanish, Danish, and English)—both as independent work, as part of larger installations, and as publications.
Henry Martin: What, if any, responsibility, do you feel as an artist, in what way, or toward whom?
Marie Thams: A feeling of responsibility drives me on both a personal and professional level—a responsibility of testifying to my lived, subjective experience; to shed light on and react to the dysfunctional systems and imbalances I perceive; to respond and contribute to the professional landscape; to activate and challenge my critical voice and potential. A combinaton of impulses that manifests in my longing to create greater awareness through my works and contribute to the critical mass of my surrounding society—to propose alternative points of views and to shed a nuanced light on the living and working logic and conditions that reign in western societies.
Henry Martin: Should an artist be in the world, looking out, or outside the world, looking in?
Marie Thams: As an artist you are as much part of the world as anybody else, but you have the opportunity to take a critical look at that which surrounds you—to take a stand and share it. The challenge is also to balance between both positions, in- and out-side, and to make the subjective experience unfold to the objective eye—be engaged and respond to the surrounding world, whether it is from within this context or as a critique from outside.
Henry Martin: Does your work come from the head or the heart?
Marie Thams: My work is very much driven by a wish to react to my lived experience, which departs both from emotions and intellect, impulse and reflection.
Henry Martin: What does the word gender mean to you within your practice?
Marie Thams: Gender as a social construction is something that is always part of my thinking and I, as mentioned, also deal with the relation between the biological body and social/political status in my work.
An example of this is the sound and space installation It’s (not) about (2015) created for Viborg Kunsthal, DK, for the 100th anniversary of Danish women’s right to vote (pictured above). Sound/voice and a staircase comprises the installation, where the audience has to move up the staircase in order to hear the sound. The spoken text deals with the complexities related to negotiating one’s body and the many values, functions, positions, possibilities, and restrictions one is given qua one’s actions, and how architecture reflects the hierarchies surrounding us. (click here to listen to the sound).
In the same line of interest I can mention the performative work What we have in common, 2015, made for the same context as It’s (not) about. On Saturdays during the exhibition period a young woman carried a flag through the city center. The emblem on the flag is a subtle circle sewn in fabric, a kind of gender symbol without any gender attributes—a symbol of a joint battle, here accentuated by being carried by a young woman alone, again and again.
1: It’s (not) about, 2015
Sound and spacial installation: Wooden staircase, measuring: height 280 cm x width bottom 540 cm x width top 340 cm. Sound, duration: 5:34 min, loop.
2: What we have in common, 2015
Performance and prop: Flag: bride satin, wood, tassels. Measures 100 x 260 cm
3: re, 2017
Sound and spacial installation: Sculptural banners, each measuring 180 x 250 cm. 3 channel sound installation, duration 7 min, loop, and HD video projection on acryllic screen 40 cm/diameter.
4: O(h)n no mr. B.
– A question of stepping into character with a risk of (sudden) disappearance
Performance lecture, 2017
5: 8 hours? 0,- desire, 2016
Sound work/publication: Set of 3 audio cards. Edition of 25. Published by Hour Editions, Copenhagen.