Marie Kølbæk iversen: Mirror Therapy, 11th Gwangju Biennial, Gwangju, South Korea, 2016.

Marie Kølbæk Iversen

Marie Kølbæk Iversen is a Visual Artist MFA from the Department of Time-Based Media at Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, DK, 2008. Born April 19th 1981 in Herning, Denmark. Lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark. Recent exhibitions include: “Io/I” and Matrilineal Collapse, PARMER, New York, USA, 2017 / The Eight Climate (What Does Art Do?), The 11th Gwangju Biennial, Gwangju, South Korea, 2016 / Spin and the Wolf, Overgaden, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2016 / Transformer (solo), Brandts, Odense, Denmark, 2015 / Mirror Therapy (solo), Fotografisk Center, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2015 / BIM, Centre d’Art Contemporain, Geneva, Switzerland, and MONA, Hobart, Australia, 2014-15 / Consciousness, ARTEFACT ‘14, STUK Kunstencentrum, Leuven, Belgium, 2014 / Dexter Bang Sinister, Kunsthal Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2012 / Execution – into decapital (solo), IMO, Copenhagen, Denmark, 2012.

Neo-worlds: Other-directed potentialities of fright

Locating my project at the intersection of visual art and anthropology, between modern and historical manifestations of Amazonian Pano shamanism and Southern Scandinavian Sejd, I set out to explore fright as transformative and other-directed potential. Recovering and learning strategies to approximate fright, I argue, is crucial to confronting ‘ends of the world.’

To approximate fright also means familiarising the category of the indigenous. According to James Anaya the term indigenous denotes the living descendants of pre-invasion inhabitants of lands now dominated by others. Following Yanomami shaman and tribe leader Davi Kopenawa the word also denotes s/he who has experienced or envisioned the end of the world as s/he knew it thereby becoming-other. These years see an increasing research focus on indigenous issues in Northern Europe, but our engagement with the category of the indigenous can go beyond multicultural affirmation to assert a revaluation of subjectivity and cultural belonging.

Following Tobie Nathan and Catherine Grandsard “the ability to cope with being frightened is equal to the ability to perceive of worlds based on unknown logical principles." Throughout the world vernacular and indigenous cultures have accessed it as such. To the modern Western mind, however, fear and fright are typically cast in negative terms and sought mastered, neutralised and cured. In an indigenous perspective, such counteracting of fright as impairment and disempowerment will numb or obscure its potential. For Westerners to become-other-than-colonisers then, and confront the destructive forces of capitalism, we need to acquaint ourselves with fright and (re)claim its handling. This entails envisioning the end of our world.

I conduct my research of fright-handling practices in the minoritarian exchange between active Amazonian shamanism and Scandinavian ‘ghost’ shamanisms, specifically Sejd as it has influenced magical practices of Danish Hedebonde culture: the native culture of Western Jutland based on extensive farming that existed until the early 20th century. This to explore bases for emphatic alliance-building across colonial divides and reclaim the heritage of the defeated cf. Isabelle Stengers: In this case, indigenous and vernacular knowledge forms that were systematically subjugated by an epistemicide (rather than genocide), launched by value systems and power structures involved in a modern perpetuation of colonisation and fear.

In my project I propose to reactivate fright-centered Hedebonde/Sejd rituality in dialogue with a South American indigenous theory and the female shamans of the Pano Yawanawá tribe – themselves modern subjects, who have re-situated their cultural identity by critically appropriating fading ancestral knowledge. The visions born out of the syncretist field between Yawanawá and Sejd/Hedebonde rituality will inspire sci-fi ‘visionary artworks:’ films, drawings, pottery, tapestries. I call them sci-fi since they deal with (past,) future and alien technologies, cf. Ursula K. Le Guin’s definition of technology as "the active human interface with the material world," and because, following this definition, shamanist rituals are (also) that: technologies.