Stories

New artwork on the walls of the restaurant

Words: Esben Holmboe Bang

Since Maaemo opened I have had a close relationship with artist Christian Houge. We seem to share a profound understanding of each other’s expression. We want to tell a story and force a reaction in our audience. Not only as a simple or mundane provocation but as a sincere way of communicating a set of ideals and emotions. We both seek out new ways of approaching our expression. The manner in the way Christian is moulding and crafting materials is astonishing. It gives a depth and a multiple sensorial layered experience of his work. I have been provoked and have been moved to tears by Christians artwork. Two extremes. And that is what I love about Christian. He forces a reaction. He creates matter and energy with his work. I am proud to once again have Christians thoughts and craft on my walls in the restaurant.

He forces a reaction. He creates matter and energy with his work Esben Holmboe Bang

About the series
In this series, Christian Houge is inspired by our endeavour to connect Man to both the Cosmos and the Earth.

Rare NASA photographs of early moon landings from the 60`s and 70`s, survey photographs and explorations of Man’s new constitutive horizons have been collected and photographed. The title, `In;Human Nature` reflects both Man`s urge to explore, as well as the fact that this part of nature is very much outside of our comprehension, reminding us that we venture into a domain where mankind is perhaps fundamentally unwelcome. Many of the works in `In;Human Nature` holds a suffocating silence juxtaposed with humanity`s own urge for exploration and conquering of the unknown. The Moon has always been subject to much symbolism in culture and served as a gateway to the Universe in our explorations.

After photographing and categorizing massive glacial landscapes in his native Norway, the artist integrated 3-dimensional geometric landscapes into unknown horizons in the lunar landscape. These are hand drawn liquid chalk and pastel forms making each print unique. Man’s own cellular `composite` is geometrical and thus links us more, universally, to the unknown than we may think.

By exploring nature`s geometry in minerology, the outer landscapes of the Moon are juxtaposed to inner landscapes on Earth. Rare minerals are photographed in extreme detail with up to a hundred different focal planes for each image. These micro/macro perspectives still-lifes of floating minerals serve as reminders of how the composite of Earth, Moon and Man are linked in geometry.

The NASA images, at the time made, were documentation of the biggest achievement made by Man in modern times, and there is an irony in making new landscapes of our own disappearing nature onto the moonscapes. Here lies a commentary of Man`s ego that is hard not to take notice of.

This creates unique images with symbolism and relevance to one another, including Man.

Rare minerals are photographed in extreme detail with up to a hundred different focal planes for each image. Christian Houge

In the artist’s fascination of the limits of our perception and science's inevitable failure in the uncertainty of quantum processes, he uses the charge between the known and uncertain to explore the deep-seated human need to create order and find meaning in a bigger picture.

As the Holocene epoch turns to the Anthropocene in the mid-20th century humans fundamentally lose their all too human superstructure. It is this loss of environment that Houge ironizes in his new work. Like all of his work, the relation and conflict between Nature and Culture is explored.

In the book by Carl Jung (1875-1961), `Man and his Symbols`, the psychiatrist reminds us of how our exploration of the unknown Antarctic in 1911, provided an apt image of the liberation, the breaking out of containment that characterizes transcendence. This is still true in contemporary times with space exploration of new stars, planets and galaxies.

The images in `In;Human Nature` symbolize the 20th-century embodiments of the urge toward liberation and release what is called transcendence. The word transcendence comes from the Latin prefix trans-, meaning "beyond," and the word scandare, meaning "to climb”.

About Christian Houge
Christian Houge was born in 1972 in Oslo, Norway. He studied art at St.Clares, Oxford. His work has been exhibited widely in Norway and internationally. He has received several art scholarships from the Norwegian government and been nominated several times to the prestigious Prix Pictet Award for sustainable photographic art.

His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries all over the world. Recently, Houges work from both `Arctic Technology`, `Barentsburg` and `Shadow Within`, has been part of several large museum shows in the US and Canada, exploring Mans relation to nature/culture, and thus the current condition in which we live in terms of climatic change.

The `Vanishing Ice` tour (Museum of Washington) and `Beyond Earth Art`(Johnson Museum, New York) were both exposed to a large audience. Houges work has also been acquired by several museums and institutions (lastly Nevada Museum of Art and their own Center for Art + Environment)

Houges most recent exhibition `Paradise Lost` (consisting of three of his main series exploring the human condition and climate change) was on tour from 2014-2016 in China amongst non-profit museums. christianhouge.no/InHuman-Nature

It is possible to acquire the artwork currently hanging in the restaurant. Price on request.