Yesterday Rita Marhaug did a lecture at KHiB. A mix between a performance and a self-presentation. The first part was a reworking of the performance I described earlier:
Rita in a luxurious fur coat, with expensive dark hair. Taking the floor in her high-heeled shoes. Standing still in front of the audience. This time she starts speaking; talking about her work in english. An imperfect and shaky, but very accurate english, that matches the strange upper-class costume perfectly. There is an uncanny blur between Rita, the artist, speaking of herself and that fictional figure with the wig. The real Rita speaking from underneath the wig, from inside the fiction. Then in the middle of the presentation, all of a sudden, she is pissing black oil. The dark liquid creating a pool on the floor. The sound of liquid splashing onto the floor. Shock and beauty. She pauses, looks back at the black pool. Starts speaking again. Again the awkward english voice slowly unwinding her artistic practice. Elaborate and clear. Walking back and forth in and out of the pool; black oily footsteps creating a pattern on the floor.
Then she opens up the fur coat, starts undressing, off goes the wig and here is Rita, short ultra blonde hair and an casual white underdress. Again uncanny. Very strange to see a woman in her underdress in the lecture room, all too intimate.
The white woman sits down at a white desk, lights a white candle standing on the table. Starts talking. Now more self-asure. After a while she casually sips some water from the glass standing next to the candle. Without warning she blows the liquid out of her mouth into the flame of the candle and a huge flame blazes explosively right in front of us.
This is agit-prop without an ideology: The liquids runs through Ritas body. She is pissing oil and spitting gas. The blaze of fire is her breath. The problematics of pollution and climate crisis comes from within her. She embodies the problems. Even the black and white dictonomy of the symbolic language she is using is dissolved in a complex web of symbols; the materials runs through her body and the opposition between inside and outside of the body is dissolved. The body feeds on these materials, as we feed on fuel in our entire societal existence. Our lifestyles feed on fuel and the consumerism flows through our societies like the liquids flows through the black and white bodies of Rita’s personas. Oil and gas. Explosive fire. Spill and blaze.
This is political art positioned within the problem it describes. The is no easy way out. There is no easy way to reject the energy of these materials. There are no black and white answers and the positions we can embody are masked and our voices are muffled.
Looking out from my window seat: The beauty of sinking through the clouds, the sunlight dimmed into complete grey.
Rita Marhaug: Material (Wo)man, lecture at Bergen Academy of Art & Design, KHiB, 20.10.2014