Artwork by Christian Houge

Words: Esben Holmboe Bang

The start of a new season has brought with it not only new produce but also new artwork for the restaurant. As we’ve discussed before, the entire visual expression here at Maaemo is something that we feel is crucial in creating the best possible experience for our guests.

A guest’s eyes are drawn not only to what is on the plate in front of them, but also to everything that is around them. The artwork on our walls helps transport diners into our universe and gives a cultural and artistic backdrop that emphasises the cuisine and identity of the food here at Maaemo.

We were lucky to be able to work again with Norwegian photographer Christian Houge, who has already created two stunning series for us in the past. Christian’s work creates a reflective darkness that has strong roots in old Norwegian culture and Norse myths.

For this series, Christian has continued his exploration of the relation between nature and culture, in particular by examining the role of the wolf as a talisman that embodies our primal fears of nature itself, and the superstitious rituals that were once performed in order to alleviate these fears.

Here are some words from Christian:

“This series, made between 2011-2014, explores Norwegian rituals from the 1600’s that were thought to keep wolves away from man and livestock.

In this period superstition and folklore was an integral part of society. Our fear of the wolf was ever-present as it was seen as a malevolent creature; even an incarnation of the Devil himself.

The photographs explore the boundaries between dream and reality as the backdrop of fear of the unknown. Christian Houge

These rituals have shaped part of our identity and history during this dark era in Scandinavia, where Christianity was mixed with many pagan rituals juxtaposing further our relation to Mother Nature and the natural. All of the rituals in this series are taken from Norwegian folklore and the black books of Finnskogene.

Over several years, I orchestrated scenes in the forest inspired by my research and meetings with authors on this hidden and fascinating subject. In these daily, but complex rituals, the struggle within was just as strong as the struggle without. The photographs explore the boundaries between dream and reality as the backdrop of fear of the unknown.

Man has always had a tendency to project true evil in things, in order to see himself in the good. Good versus evil is a classic construction.

This is the fourth commission I create for Maaemo, where all my series have explored the relation between nature and culture with different perspectives. The two past commissions, ‘Shadow Within’ 2010-2013 (photography) and ‘Darkness Burns Bright’ 2013/2014 (installation), have explored how we mirror our own taboos and social structure in an outlawed and stigmatised creature that represents true raw nature.”

Read more about Christian and take a look at his other impressive artworks on his website.