HILDE MARSTRANDER IS A NORWEGIAN ARTIST, ILLUSTRATOR AND FASHION JOURNALIST.
HILDE HAS LONG BEEN NOTED AS ONE OF NORWAY’S FOREMOST FASHION JOURNALISTS, WITH AN ACADEMIC AND PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND AS A FASHION DESIGNER IN LONDON AND PARIS. HER JOURNALISM CAREER INCLUDES POSITIONS AS A HOST FOR A FASHION TV-SHOW ON ZTV AND FASHION EDITOR FOR ELLE. SHE HAS ALSO WORKED AS A REPORTER FOR VG, AFTENPOSTEN, NRK, DET NYE, AND SE OG HØR, AMONG OTHERS.
HER COMMENTS ON THE DRESS OF FEMALE POLITICIANS AND ROYALTY STARTED PUBLIC DISCUSSION THAT OTHER JOURNALISTS BRANDED “THE DRESS DEBATE” AT THE BEGINNING OF THE NEW MILLENNIUM. IN 2004, WITH PIA HARALDSEN, SHE BECAME A JUDGE ON TV3’S SHOPPING PROGRAMME SHOPAHOLIC. SHE HAD THE POSITION AS THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF OF THE NORWEGIAN DESIGN MAGAZINE SNITT DURING THE YEARS 2006-2011.
ON 12 AUGUST 1998 SHE ESTABLISHED STUDIO DELUXE HILDE MARSTRANDER AS AN OSLO-BASED COMPANY TO HANDLE HER BUSINESS ACTIVITIES.
SINCE HILDE WAS GOING ART SCENE. LET’S CHECK UP, HOW’S HER ARTISTRY TODAY?
DT 500 ZINE IS INVITING HILDE TO A PHOTO-SHOOT AND TALKING HER VERY IDENTITY.
THE NIPPLE HONESTY EXPOSED!
DT500 ZINE: – Hi, thanx for last time, fun to shoot! It is a pleasure to get to know a person like you. You seems like a great and balanced one, let’s go closer, right to irrationality. What is your personal philosophy about your identity?
HILDE: – I think I am a designated traveler. I travel both outwards and inwards; geographically and introspectively.
” I have a strong perceptiveness, which is both my burden and my blessing.“
DT500 ZINE: – How much irrationality, unconsciousness or intuitiveness is important for an artist?
HILDE: – Both irrationality and unconsciousness can be good tools for many artists, although I do not believe in the myth of the «tormented artist». You don’t have to seek destructiveness to be a good artist. Many succeed doing the opposite – by keeping a clear head and working hard.
” Intuitiveness is perhaps my personal favorite. You just get an idea, feel it in your marrow, brew on it for a while, write down some words, let it simmer – and if you still think it’s a good idea after some time, go for it.”
DT500 ZINE: – What is your origin and where did you grow up?
HILDE: – I grew up as the youngest of six kids on Frogner, Oslo. My father was a Ph.D. in literature, a historian, and a language teacher, my mother was working with troubled kids and teenagers. She started her education as a social worker at the age of 51, and before retirement, she had been the Head of Social Services for the City of Oslo, which I think is pretty awesome. We had a cabin high up in the mountains, where we spent every single holiday when growing up. It gave me a close connection to animals and nature, which is ever-present to this day.
DT500 ZINE: – It sounds like you had various angles of influences during your childhood, any personal story?
HILDE: – My parents were both engaged in the arts. My father used to take me to almost every opera, ballet and annual art show at Kunstnernes Hus («House of the Arts»). I still go there every year if I’m in town. My mother wrote short stories and published a collection of poems at Solum. I don’t know whether this identifies me, but my mother had a story about me which I find telling:
” She once put me in the child seat at the back of her bicycle. I was a toddler, maybe 2 or 3 years. She fell on her bike, and told me I instantly crawled to the sidewalk into safety at the «speed of light». Since then, I have often been in potentially hazardous or challenging situations, but always seem to crawl back.”
DT500 ZINE: – A good orientation is definitely useful! Do you use it in your artistry? What is your story of becoming an artist?
HILDE: – I feel like I’ve always been a so-called «life artist», although I did not formalize the last steps through advanced art studies until recently. My first studies were within textiles and fashion design. I had a strong career in fashion and journalism for many years, which gradually drifted into an Editor-in- Chief position at a visual communications magazine (graphic and digital design, and illustration).
DT500ZINE: – Yes, we do remember.
HILDE: – I then started studying art. I guess I have been lucky along the way, as I have had several people contributing to my life choices. My mother, first and foremost. But also some brilliant teachers and mentors I met along the road. I made friends with designer and founder of fashion school ESMOD, Nils-Christian Ihlen Hansen when I was flat broke and living in Paris. He took me under his wings, fed me Thai food and gave me free private lessons in illustration and design.
DT500ZINE: – as you are naming thai-food, you did some eco-art in Thailand, we have published your video before on our walls, tell us more about it.
HILDE: -The farmer, Uncle Tha and I formed a special bond, and we both cried when I left the Land. I will go back to see him, and still have a good connection with Nils-Christian from ESMOD.
” I had an art residency at The Land Foundation, an eco-farm and art collective in the power-stricken, northern regions of Thailand. It was super-primitive, and I spent three months sleeping under a mosquito net, working on a big installation made out of recycled materials in the day- time. It is probably one of my most life-changing events, transforming the last pieces of the «material girl» into something else, something far more … organic?”
DT500 ZINE: – What do u like most in your work?
HILDE: – I like the fact that there is an understated poetry to most of my works. It is often quite eye-catching, but if you look closer, and take the time to read the manifests, there are more layers to it. I believe (although many have, and will continue to differ)
” Artists have a responsibility to try to communicate something of a deeper and more fundamental level, rather than just produce beautiful objects for commercial purposes.”
DT500 ZINE: – SOCIAL ARTISTRY ALIVE!
HILDE: – There is enough art based on solely the WOW-factor on the market today. I am not (yet) getting rich doing the stuff I do, but I feel it has a purpose.
” Every time someone comes up to me and tells me that my art touched them in a profound way, rather than just the aesthetics, I feel blessed and humble.”
DT500 ZINE: – What is annoying you these days?
HILDE: – I would not say I am annoyed about anything or anyone. But there are a few things with today’s art scene, that should be tweaked.
DT500ZINE: – What do you mean?
HILDE: – Firstly, I do not think the current art industry is designed to represent artists.
” It is designed to sell art, which is a totally different thing. Institutions and media are money-driven, and will therefore always seek out the hype and sensational, which is rarely the most interesting art in my opinion.”
DT500ZINE: – Folk, vote for BASIC INCOME GUARANTEE!
HILDE: – Secondly, there is a frighteningly unbalanced representation between the genders. There is an over-focus on male subjects and male artists, especially in Norway. Men, often have a more sensational take on art, which caters to tabloid newspapers, glossy magazines and «clicks».
” It is perhaps the nature of most men to go for the kill, and be more competitive, whilst women have a tendency to be more subtle, and perhaps not «take the room» in the same manner (and if she does, she might be seen as big-headed – even in 2016.)”
DT500ZINE: – Equality and Transparency for everyone! Male vs female artist?
HILDE: – This is of course NOT the case with all male artists, I am just pointing out a general tendency. The huge art institutions and media is also over- represented by male voices and curators. Perhaps the softer-spoken art does not always reach its audience because they have less resonance with the mediators. Lastly, I have noticed that art editors, journalists, juries etc. often consists of professionals with a theoretical background; art historians, philosophers, word-smiths. But they do not necessarily have a practical art background.
” I think it would be healthy for the art industry to invite more people with a hands-on background from the field to the round table, where decisions and selections are made.“
DT500 ZINE: – Let’s cover up the beast, trends vs changes?
HILDE: – When everybody else e.g. is making intricate pencil drawings, I tend to do something else. Call me stupid if you like, but I think it’s the anti-establishment attitude in me who forces me to go in a different direction. I refuse to follow trends, as I think art should be about changes, not about reinforcing existing ideas and means of expression. That said, I still enjoy good pencil drawings.
” Having (in a «previous» life) worked many years in fashion, and hence with trend forecasting, I am sensitive to shifting trends. As a result, I consciously try to avoid them.”
DT500 ZINE: – Hilde, is art/culture dead? Have we really become a Homo Economicus – the monsters of rationality, who are looking just for profits and calculating every action etc … or have we become Homo Interneticus – the great nerd of technological media, the man who is living in a digital world with minimal body connection? Or Homo Informaticus – who is flexible enough to use all the endless technological possibilities, without over-intellectualising it… but to search for the knowledge and improve the reality? Any other versions?
HILDE: – Ha-ha! Great question! Well … I would say that most of the art market today, unfortunately, is dominated by Homo Economicus. It is a consequence of living in an age where capitalism has taken over most of our hearts and minds, as we have bombarded with up to 2000 sales- pitches every day through internet, television, radio, super-boards, ads and smartphones – and greed is still «good».
” But I will propose, that science and technology are great bedfellows to the arts. As long as we look at these potential spouses as playful companions, and do not let them overtake the artistic expression and message (there is nothing more boring than seeing an artist’s show, which is just a display of cleverness, whether it is through meticulous gathering of data and information, or genius kinetics like drone-art, without a soul).”
DT500 ZINE: – Do you mean, that the artist has to play a specific role in today’s society? What is yours?
HILDE: – Yes, I think we do. But I know this is not true for everyone. The problem with the society as a whole today is that most people don’t have the extra resources to engage in global affairs, the environment, animal care, gender equality, race, ethnicity, freedom of religion etc.
” Everybody is too busy trying to manage their own lives. There are bills to pay, kids who need their attention, pets, work, social life, social pressure, self- image issues etc. This lack of time and closeness to social medias makes us think that sharing, liking or commenting on a good cause is more than enough, which is our time’s biggest self-deception.”
DT500ZINE: – WAKE UP MEN!
HILDE: – This means the real «Weltschmerz», is felt with by a very small group of people. And so the pain and the burden for those who engage in these things seems so much more overwhelming.
” If everybody cared a little bit more about all the craziness surrounding us, not just our own day-to-day troubles and challenges, it would be a better world for everyone. My art is commenting on some of these issues, and I think that’s the niche I am more content working in.”
DT500ZINE: – We are working the same content obviously… There are a lot of things happening globally today, in our neighborhood too. Hilde, do we need a new national idea? A new definition of our times?
HILDE: – I don’t have a Hurray-hope for the future of the world society. But we probably only live once, and so we should probably all try. I mean, we conscientiously fold our empty cartons for recycling, while huge national and international companies spew out poisons into the air and soil around the clock. Also, we are overproducing food, because consumers are led to believe that only the «pretty fruits», for instance, or goods within sell-by dates are safe. This overproduction is the biggest contribution to CO2 release and energy waste on the planet, thus the main factor creating the global climate change.
DT500ZINE: – Is it a beginning of what?
HILDE:- We are only starting to see the beginning of; the age of Anthropocene (the epoch that began when human activities started to have a significant global impact on Earth’s geology and ecosystems), which again brings me back to the point that artists should be aware of the type of objects they are putting out on the market. But anyway; we still have to fold those damn cardboard boxes, otherwise – what are we?
DT500ZINE: – Mainstream as a killing-machine?
HILDE: – The mainstream greed, the social pressure for status and income and the time-constraint makes both politicians, world leaders and (us) people in general unfit to successfully manage the earth’s resources. But it is essential to be aware of this, and try to contribute to some good while we are still on this beautiful planet.
DT500ZINE: – Democracy vs dictatorship?
HILDE: – We speak warmly about the democracy in this day and time, although democracy is based on the opinions of the «average opinion». And I am not sure if the Average is qualified to make decisions to the best for all (most of us are too lazy and self-absorbed). The opposite extreme would be a dictatorship, but unfortunately, it has proven very hard to successfully recruit qualified dictators with a selfless head on their shoulders.
” The best way to save the human race, and the earth, would undoubtedly be to go back to the rural ways of our ancestors, move out in the countryside, live off the land, be self-sufficient, make our own houses, clothes, tools. Minimize, not maximize.”
DT500ZINE: – Getting back into the real life, again…
HILDE: – To ban all ads would be a good start.
” And put down a brainy group of innovators who could come up with a totally new society structure, which is not capitalistic, not based on annual economic growth, but actually based on a reduction of consumption and monetary growth.”
DT500 ZINE: – Any rope to the world?
HILDE: – My message is:
” Wake up, use your head, and don’t follow the masses. Don’t buy crap. And open your heart to the people and the world around you.”
DT500ZINE: – Is “rebel” back again?
HILDE: – A rebel is someone who doesn’t necessarily accept mainstream ideas as the truth, and challenges authoritative systems and hierarchies…
DT500ZINE: – What inspires you in Oslo?
HILDE: – Oslo is my hometown, and I am inspired by both my past, present and views of things to come. Oslo has a vibrant cultural scene, including art, architecture, music, dance, literature, poetry, theater, stage, street markets, food, and people. I love the fact that Oslo has transformed from a narrow-minded little puddle into an open and international hot-pot, where there is room for most; different opinions, styles, taste and preferences.
DT500ZINE: – ha-ha, any inspirational tip?
HILDE: – My biggest inspiration in this city is both my close friends and the interesting new people I constantly keep bumping into. Like the team from DOWNTOWN500. These meetings restore my faith in humankind, and makes living in Oslo like indulging in a big box of chocolates; you never know what’s in the next wrapper, but you know it will be sweet!
DT500ZINE: – Thanx Hilde, Ditto!
HILDE: – Saying that, Oslo is going through an (in my opinion) negative gentrification process right now. Housing is expensive, prices/tickets for cultural events skyrocketing and artists are being pushed out in the suburbs – because, as we all know, the salaries for artists have gone down with 10 %, the last eight years, while the rest of the population has enjoyed an increase of 20%. We cannot compete in this inflated property market. So essentially, the city is filled with cultural events that most artists can’t afford to participate in. We are, however, often invited to contribute to these events for free.
DT500ZINE: – Yup gentrification… Artists are forced out to the suburbs… We were too, but we kinda love it! But we need our own Bushwick or Neukölln in Oslo! What is next for Hilde Marstrander? What exhibition is coming up? Any new projects?
HILDE: – I have a solo exhibition in Carthage in Tunisia in September, themed around the refugee crises. It will be a conceptual audiovisual art show, with an installation built on the premises. I am really looking forward to it, as its proximity to some of the most affected areas in the Middle-East makes it extra relevant. The gallery is beautiful and placed in the thriving gallery area in the old town, in an area sited on UNESCO’s heritage list. And the gallerist, Mohamed, is a very cool guy. We’ve Skyped on English and broken French a few times already, and I look forward to meeting him and his friends and contacts in person. I also had an «open studio» at MIR Grünerløkka Lufthavn, sort of a retrospective, 16th, and 17th of June, where I was showing works from early days until 2016, with bubbles and friendly prices.
DT500ZINE: – Our very pleasure Hilde! See ya!
INTERVIEW BY DT 500 MAG
IMAGES DT500 OSLO
STYLING BY MITSU FRUITBASKET/GYPSYWAGON