Jelsen Lee Innocent
22.04.2023 – 22.07.2023
Documentation images: Tor S. Ulstein / Kunstdok
For the third iteration of (be)longing, two new artist publications by Jelsen Lee Innocent and Robin Mientjes are presented at House of Foundation. Innocent has taken over the entire main gallery with an all-consuming site-specific installation, while Mientjes has constructed a large photographic installation hanging from the ceiling in the first room. A new selection of books by Tenthaus members Helen Eriksen, Nikhil Vettukattil and Jacky Jaan-Yuan Kuo are also on display.
The wider the gap between how we see ourselves and how society sees us becomes, the more difficult it can be to feel at home. Thus, we must help ourselves and accept whatever consequences this entails—inclusive of conflict and misunderstandings. However, together we are stronger, and our communities and chosen families are more important than anything else.
å falle mellom to stoler by Jelsen Lee Innocent encourages a discourse that goes beyond this exhibition and surpasses the aesthetic of ethnic integration as proof of racial progress in Norway. In the installation and accompanying publication(s), he has centered a diversity of African Norwegian voices, seeking to engage within realities too often dismissed or unconsidered while navigating mainstream Norwegian society. This work is intended to both instigate and contribute new and direct critical language, constructive political expression and empathic debate within the African Norwegian community.
The things I’m afraid to ask for by Robin Mientjes (NL/NO) is equal parts therapeutic exercise and creative challenge, a reckoning with deep-seated traumas in the form of an artwork that directly requires submission to those fears. Her therapy, through the years, has shifted towards a more emotional than cognitive process—an attempt at feeling instead of rationalising, at hurting without needing to understand. Not every feeling can be understood, but hiding it away has done more harm than good.
The accompanying “manual” is a tongue-in-cheek mirror to the piece, the inversion of the emotional honesty and necessity of the artwork. The manual contains all the rational and understood parts of creating art, and the artwork itself contains only the emotional and felt parts. Together they reveal a multifaceted depiction of trauma, and suggest new ways to learn and feel.
Jelsen Lee Innocent (b.1983) is a Haitian-American conceptual artist based in Bærum whose social practice confronts the deceptions of securities fixed in racial formation. Innocent’s sculptures and installations present rigid, brooding objects that confront and contort bias. Jelsen was artist in residence at Iwalewahaus Bayreuth, Germany as part of 49° Grenzüberschreitungen Festival Future Ports of Entry, an exhibiting artist at The 32nd Biennial of Graphic Arts in Ljubljana, Slovenia and is showing his most recent work in the Smithsonian Institute Men of Change exhibition. This is the first time he is exhibiting his work in Norway.
Robin Mientjes (b. 1988) is a Dutch designer and recreational amateur of too many hobbies, based in Oslo, Norway. She’s worked on different sides of design, technology and education for more than 15 years, and specialises in large-scale design systems, type design, and conceptualising, articulating and writing. Her work can be seen in movies, supermarkets, wallets, hardware stores and record shops. Next to that, she runs her own type foundry, selling retail typefaces to a wide range of customers.
The publications and works in this exhibition were made thanks to the financial support of Viken Fylkeskommune, Grafill, and Arts and Culture Norway: Project Support and the Pilot for the distribution and display of artists' books.
A public conversation between the artists in conjunction with the exhibition opening and book launch took place on Saturday, April 22 from 13:30 at House of Foundation in Moss.
Image credit: Ayesha Jordan