Christian Houge will feature his latest work at Galleri Fineart in Oslo.
When I was a little boy my father kept a small stuffed crocodile on his office desk. It wasn`t big, but it made me both curious about what exactly was inside of it and always gave me a sense of awe. A predator. A real crocodile. It created vivid images in my mind in everything this animal had experienced before meeting humans. This was the start of a lifelong adoration and connection to both animals and nature.
Throughout my twenty years as an artist, I’ve always explored the relation, and conflict, between Man and Nature. `Residence of Impermanence` is an exploration of where Man has come as a species. Animals of taxidermy, often rare trophy animals, were tediously collected for seven years before being burned on handmade English wallpapers representing imperialism and how we obsess over conquering Nature.
Each image in the series is made in a moment of drama and destruction, but also vitality and life. The animal is immortalized with respect. It lives. It is resurrected with its distinctive personality before it finally is set free from limbo on its long-awaited journey.
This is done in a ritualistic and very personal performance with the element of fire. The repetitive performance of burning each animal is both a symbolic totemic ritual, an offering and a liberation. It is a violent act, but also a beautiful one and meaningful to me.
I want to invite the viewers to have a sense of cognitive dissonance in relating to the work and give the animals and images longevity. It is a closure if you will. An ending of a circle of that particular animal, both existential and physical, as well as a new beginning. The meeting between Nature`s fragility and Man`s ego has shown that glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, species become extinct and forests disappear. Since the dawn of Man, we have mirrored ourselves in animals. Not only have we needed them for food and survival, but as crucial elements to understand ourselves in myth, spirituality, religion, fairytales and art.
During the past decades, Man has become disconnected from Nature itself. This is evident in all that we relate to when it comes to climate change and consumerism in culture. For most of us, our relationship to animals may be a pet, a zoo, a cartoon, a movie or a teddy bear. Our disconnection to Nature makes it difficult to understand our own origins and what we in fact are.
In my exploration, I like to invite the viewers to their own ask questions with their own references. What do these manmade objects represent after they have been burnt? In what way can art influence our relation to Nature? And what can art do to create questions regarding climate change and how we can move towards a sustainable future?