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07 February 2017 @ 12:54 am
Several works of Magne's have been selected to be translated into hand-knotted rugs for a limited collection with Urban Fabric Rugs, which will be launched at the Stockholm Furniture Fair later this week:

You can find some posts about it on Facebook and Instagram, including some behind the scenes photos and video clips.

I have shamelessly swiped two photos from Instagram to stitch together into this one:

where do you take your
confidence from? and if energy
is a constant then whose confidence
is gone? if 98% of the atoms
in your body were not even there a
year ago what makes you
insist again and again
you are you? what tells
you what compels you to make
spectacle of everything you're about
memory is meant to make you stronger
not wipe your sense of self out
with confidence gone
learn to love doubt

While all three of the chosen works are stunning - and so well suited - in this new medium, this one stood out for me in part as yet another case of Magne expressing something I think many people can relate to.

Two lines really strike me: 'memory is meant to make you stronger' and 'learn to love doubt'. The former is self explanatory, yet prompts you to think of your own past and consider whether you've somehow allowed memory to weaken you instead; a perfect device to spark introspection in every viewer. The second invites you to dig much deeper, just as the poem is ending, to not only identify your doubt (difficult enough at times) but to embrace it.

Life is full of doubts, and this may simply be saying we'd get through our days much better if instead of ignoring, resisting or hiding from doubt, we face it, get to know it, develop a kind of affection for it, and thereby not merely lessen its power over us, but use it as an impetus to continue to move forward. Basically, you can find a way to make something unpleasant and defeating into something positive, or at least to accept that some things can't be changed, and you are better off approaching them from a place of strength. What's stronger than love, after all?

Surely that is enough to like about this poem: a common wisdom expressed in a unique way. However two other lyrics come to mind unbidden, and make me consider this theme in a couple of different lights.

From 'Undo my Heart' (which Magne is a co-writer on, so this may or may not be his contribution):

'They say that love's a catapult to throw out your doubt / it flies for miles, through the clouds, and lands without a sound.'

I always liked these lines because they express an active, immensely helpful and selfless aspect of love: to break down your love's doubts and hurl them with all your strength far enough away that it's as if they never were. One helps the other in conquering doubt, so the mind and heart are clear and not weighed down anymore, which allows both people to love more deeply and freely. It's such a beautiful idea. I think too many people carry their doubts like obligations, not to mention as deep, dark secrets, as if to say them out loud gives them more power than they already have. However with the right person, you can share your doubt and know it will be respected and understood, not dismissed or trivialized, or intensified, or somehow used against you to hold you captive. The right person will want to know what your doubts are so they can help you deal with them and get free of them.

Makes sense, right? But 'learn to love doubt' seems to be saying the opposite: doubt is here to stay, so you might as well find a way to love it. On one hand, I don't like that idea because I'd rather believe you *can* be free of doubt; but on the other hand, I have to acknowledge that it's human nature to have doubts, and therefore the wisdom of learning to live well with them is a more realistic goal.

From 'Time and Place':

'Your heart does what it's told'

This lyric is one of my favorites from Magne's solo albums. It refers to the theme of conflict betwen the heart and the mind. The heart is the seat of emotion of every kind, not just love but anger and sorrow and every other feeling that makes us human. The heart should be free, it yearns for connection and inspiration. Meanwhile the mind has great power; at times it is difficult for even the most open heart to argue with logic.

How often do we convince ourselves that we're happy with how things are? Or patiently wait when we want to be off and running? Or downplay our ideas and creativity because we don't think others are receptive to them? How often do we love where we think we shouldn't, or yearn for friendship but something stops us from taking that important first step? Why do we hide a delighted smile when we see someone we love? Why do we keep people at arm's length even when we know they want the best for us? Doubt. Uncertainty. Lack of confidence.

It may seem better to believe what your mind tells you to believe - or to believe what others tell you is the logical thing to believe - than to risk allowing your heart to show you the way. By letting reason have sway, you can defend any choice with logic, and never deal with doubt of the heart. We're told that it's better and safer to have a plan than to follow your heart, and if we're not careful, we can wind up convincing ourselves to feel what we *think* we should be feeling. In this context, 'learning to love doubt' seems like it could be another example of this, a kind of advice to the mind for the protection of the heart.

Yet...no matter what reason or knowledge our minds have, our hearts don't want to be told what to feel ;-) Even if you hide that smile, your heart is still doing flips at the sight of your love. Even if you tell yourself an idea isn't going to fly, the really good ones will pester you on the inside until you find a way to share them and allow them a chance to develop. Despite the benefits of logic, our hearts are happiest when they lead the way.

And...I honestly don't know which is worse, the feeling of doubt itself, or the understanding that because of it, we are holding back or missing out on something essential and important and true. Is it possible that in loving our doubt, we take away its power over us?

Long story short: another great poem. Hopefully Magne publishes more poetry in book, digital or other form soon.
31 January 2017 @ 10:31 pm
For those who haven't been able to listen to the 'Beatles' movie soundtrack yet due to geographic, financial or initiative reasons (no judgement! ;-)), you can now listen to four of the songs on a new YouTube channel:

The channel was created a couple of days ago and so far there are only four tracks available. Hopefully all the tracks will be added at some point..? Anyway, get on over there in case it's not an official channel and the songs get taken down ;-) Easily one of my top three favorite albums of all time, it has a very special place in my heart.
09 January 2017 @ 11:39 pm
I've made some edits to my last three posts:

~ Added photos of the QSPA 5 book
~ Added a couple of links to the Imprints 3 post and put off topic stuff behind an LJ-cut
~ Added more about Norway behind the LJ-cut in my last post, because I kept thinking of more observations I wanted to share

It seems I've somehow gotten over the writing block I had for much of last year. I've struggled to find motivation and inspiration for writing for both work and personal projects, which is not a good thing for someone whose job and hobbies involve web content production ;-) Anyway, even though a lot of what I've written recently is only very loosely related to the topic of this blog, and it rambles a bit, I thought I should continue writing so as not to discourage any inspiration coming my way. Thanks for bearing with me!

~ Yet another addition on the subject of the 'Imprints' time-lapse video: Thanks to a post the other day from Studio Hugo Opdal on Facebook, I remembered that Magne has shared videos/footage like this at least twice before, so this new video isn't as rare a glimpse as I had thought ;-)


A Dot of Black:

But hey, it has been a super long time since he has shared anything like this, so the Imprints clip is still pretty special IMO.

~ Since last year was such an overall bummer, I thought it would be fun to kick off the new year here with some fun photos of Magne - it has been a long time since I indulged in photo posting ;-) Here are a couple of my favorites from 2016:

Just stunning, the man and his works here. All the photos in this article are awesome.

What a great day this must have been:

Looking mischievious - definitely up to something!

A friend recently saw this one for the first time - one of the people I went to see Kaiser's Orchestra with in NYC - and she said, 'They MAY be the hottest men in Norway.' No disagreement here ;-)

~ Anyone else thinking it's quiet on the MF front, and wondering if that signifies lots of work going on outside the public view, either in art or music or both?
03 January 2017 @ 12:10 am
As a kind of follow up to this post, I had an interesting conversation with my Norwegian teacher recently that may have changed my view on the band's approach to interacting with the fans.

Off topic stuff back here.Collapse )

My teacher talks about the egalitarian standard in Norway, and how each person is valued equally - their time, their ideas, their basic human rights. In one recent small group conversation, I mentioned how remarkable I think it is that the guys are so kind to all the fans and so genuine as well. Her response was that these are typical Norwegian values, that each person has worth and should be treated equally. So it seems I may have been making the wrong assumptions about why the guys interact the way they do with fans, it is probably just their natural way of treating people, fans or not. But I still think it could be part of the process of finding balance between what they give of themselves on stage and what they are able to take back in a way. This is just a guess, though!
24 December 2016 @ 12:03 am
As luck would have it, I had some time available last night to update here, but there was an LJ site outage and I couldn't post. But you know me - once I get the bug to write, I can't rest until I get it done. So I am drafting this in textpad and hope to be able to access LJ for posting later today :-)

I've been trying to figure out why this video and others like it interest me so much. It's a unique perspective on a process we wouldn't normally see, it helps fill in the scope of the project and effort involved, and it's wonderful of the artist to be willing to share his creative tasks in a raw format like this. You really get a sense of his relationship with the work. He could just as easily have let the works speak for themselves, and if the viewer is curious about the process, allow their imagination to fill in the details.

The video is not an intrusive view of the work, and in some ways it generates more questions for me than answers (because that's how my mind works ;-)), but that's ok with me.

How much time is passing in this video? Did this happen over a couple of weeks or on several occasions over months? What season is it? What does that dark period represent? Was Magne away on tour with a-ha in parallel with some of this? And was the process for the other jar similar, or did they run into any delays or challenges that made it different? Were both jars built at the same time, or in succession? How many people were involved with building the jars, and was Magne present for that, or did he only arrive in time for the actual imprinting of letters and painting work? What kind of mental transition does Magne have to make between all his creative projects, in order to give 100% focus on what he is doing in the moment? Or do all his projects somehow inform the result of whatever he is working on at any given time? How long did it take to fire the jars and how many days did it take to complete the glazing? Is it a local team of people doing the building of the jar or did Magne bring people with him to do the work? How did they make sure the sides of the jar were uniformly thick? Is there a 'front' of a round object? Did he know when he was doing the work which side of the jar would face the road and which would face the center of the park? Did he consider the view of the work from the office buildings, mostly from above? Why haven't we seen a photo of the finished sculpture park from above?! I'd sure like to see that ;-)

All questions don't require answers, but the curiosity certainly has value in that it leads to further thought and a kind of bond with the subject. If you look at an artwork once and can't find one thing about it to spark a new thought or a question or an emotion, you'll never bother to look at it again.

I believe that one reason people return again and again to view certain art is that the works tell an endless story that evolves every time you visit. Perhaps because I have been watching the process from afar, via whatever photos and videos Magne has allowed to be shared in media etc., the 'Imprints' works had a story of their own in my mind before I ever saw them in person, and their story will continue to evolve. Having visited the site three times, at specific and impactful moments in my own life, I can't help but associate some of the works with profound personal memories of my own.

Off topic stuff back here.Collapse )

All this to say that this little video is interesting to me for a lot of reasons, mostly due to my own history and perspective, not least of which is my fascination with Magne's art in particular. Over the years I have learned some things about myself because of my interest in art and music.

Does my story matter all that much in relation to the 'Imprints' works? Not to the world, of course. But my story informs my response to the works, just as your story informs your response. I can only encourage you to look at this art - and any art - as something that sparks a thought, or a question, or an emotion, so that you can be open to what it tells you not only about itself but about yourself.

EDIT: I see that LJ is up and I can post now :-) Not sure this will be interesting to anyone but me, but that's ok. In any case, have a wonderful Christmas and here's to more art and music from Magne in 2017!
06 December 2016 @ 11:54 pm
I received the book QSPA 5 for my birthday last month. It is a really wonderful book, including details about the Queen Sonja Print Award's 5 year history, as well as the collaboration between HM Queen Sonja and Magne on 'Texture'. There are photos of the works and their working process, as well as photos of the award nominees' works, interviews with the juries, and poetry by the author.

The book was written by Lars Saabye Christensen, whose writing impressed me as incredibly rich and knowledgeable, as well as somewhat poetic. It took less than a page for me to find myself an admirer of his craftsmanship with language. Actually I've been sitting here in front of my computer with the book open for a while, paging through it, trying to find a way to express what engages me so thoroughly, or how his texts have a wonderful balance between informative and imaginative. There are interesting reflections there, and I learned more than I expected to, and on a level I rarely have the opportunity to experience lately. I'm hungry for more, there isn't enough of it!

"Seeing is not only about presence, about the moment, about the situation; it is just as much about recollection, memories, about all your ages and calendars. Art can open up spaces of time that put you in a context you didn't think was possble. That is a profound joy: suddenly to recognize something you haven't seen before. It's like falling in love.' Exactly this. I feel like I have been struggling to understand and explain this precise concept in regard to art for a long time, and here is my own experience written down for me to discover as if it is a new thing. A new thing that fits perfectly.

EDIT 2: Finally adding photos to this post!

The reason I bring up this book now - beyond the obvious, which is to encourage you to get your hands on it if you have the interest, you won't regret it - is a short passage on page 63. The author tells of Kjell Nupen's advice to Magne about how an artist has to spend time in a gallery when the pictures are all hanging and before the public comes in, to have his own last encounter with the pictures before abandoning them. This story immediately reminded me of this picture of Magne at Fornebuporten, perhaps having that last encounter with one of the works before the official opening of the park:

Yes, I still have 'Imprints' on the brain, and I do still plan to write about this video sometime soon. These days I picture the park covered in snow, and I am nostalgic for last December when I was there because of the Nobel concert :-)
22 November 2016 @ 12:04 am
For those who might be interested, I've posted a selection of my pictures from Fornebuporten on Flickr here. It was interesting to look at them again after all this time and absorb the details once more.

In a blog last year I wrote:

"I was surprised by how much even this 'incomplete' experience touched me. One of the letters actually moved me to tears, right there on the spot - I had to pause and blink them away, lifting my eyes from the ground to a neutral point for a moment before I could see clearly again."

A couple of people asked me which letter had such a strong effect on me - it was the 'n'. Hopefully I have transcribed the text right:

I want these words
to be your church floor
and bear witness
to your sacrifice
I want them to mean even more
A place of worship in itself
I want my thoughts
to sooth and comfort you
and all things dead
inside of you
to rise again
for love has died
but not in vain
your saintly form
as etched into
the walls of me
echoes of some long lost litany
your body like a hymn
- sublime arches
stretching yearningly
into the sky
and to think
there was I

Although the other works were not all installed when I was there in May, I was glad to have the chance to look around and see what I could. Part of an old favorite poem is pressed on the surface of a large block, originally posted on Magne's MySpace page on December 5, 2006:

how she takes refuge in herself
how she must do this;
for there is nothing else
how she is scared and hurt
and betrayed by fate
how she must concentrate
to be her own girl
in a world
where everyone
blends with someone else
how she is hurt and brave
in the face of truth
for she believed love
when it told her to wait
and so she waits

I love that poem, and it makes me glad to know people will read words from it down through the years; in passing or with full attention, slightly obscured under a light dusting of snow or glistening from rain; part of a story in strong relief for those who care to notice. One of many stories, no doubt.

There are many poems and lyrics throughout the works that have associations for me, as I am sure is the case for so many others. I can't wait to get my hands on the book about the project and return to the park to see it now that it is complete. I have no idea when I will get back to Norway, but I hope it will be soon.
09 November 2016 @ 12:57 am
Can't go to bed because there is a train wreck happening right now.
Also can't concentrate enough to write anything of sense.

I feel bruised and scared. I can't comprehend what is happening in my country right now, on so many levels.

If, like me, you need some spark of light to focus on, maybe this wonderful video will help:

I'll write about this soon. In the meantime, group hug?
02 November 2016 @ 10:48 pm

If you haven't seen it elsewhere, thought I'd pass along that Filip is in a band called The Nowes, based in Edinburgh. They've released a new single called 'Hanging On' which you can find on the various digital music platforms:

Spotify - https://play.spotify.com/track/4u3ATPVSPc5p1FhLSWuEZy

29 October 2016 @ 10:30 am
(X-posted to aha)

As you may know if you follow a-ha on Twitter, yesterday Mags' son Filip released his first single with his band the Nowes. It's called Hanging On, and it's available from iTunes and Amazon. I recommend it! Nothing special perhaps, but a nice piece of bouncy, Indie-style rock. A good start.