Constance Tenvik: Soft Armour
10. november 2017 – 28. januar 2018
Friday 8 December
Opening, part 1 | 7pm at UKS
Opening, part 2 | 8.30pm at Kunstnernes Hus
Concert and DJ | 10pm Jenny Hval – 11pm DJ Jan Mayen at Kunstnernes Hus
9 December 2017 – 14 January 2018
UKS, St. Olavs gate 3, Oslo
Kunstnernes Hus, Wergelandsveien 17, Oslo
In autumn 2017, a series of UKS solo exhibitions each employ both UKS’ grounds and a part of the neighboring venue, Kunstnernes Hus, enabling the simultaneous exploration of different corners of the artistic production in question, from the main streams to the fissures and crevices.
Second in UKS’ series of double exposés is draughtsman, masquerader, and filmmaker Constance Tenvik (b.1990, NO, based in Berlin and Oslo). Tenvik’s abundant, new production Soft Armour focuses on a disastrous attempt to restage a medieval joust at a Scottish castle in Ayrshire in 1839. This gothic reenactment, entitled “The Eglinton Tournament” after its initiator Earl Eglinton, was flooded by both a torrential downpour—disabling most of the chivalric acts—and by the unexpected turnout of around 100,000 spectators; in hindsight making this a milestone of mischief in failing to making fantasy and reality meet.
Employing this hilarious image of romantic longing, of regress to another time while being caught in one’s own ‘tense’, Tenvik creates a timely pointer to a current conservative retrograde, and the idle potential of nostalgic folklore. Unapologetically invading a male world of knights with her makeshift show(wo)manship, Tenvik explores Eglinton’s bloated performance—when everything goes wrong—through candy-colored assemblage sculptures, figurative drawings, and living images, creating a social carnival recalling Scandinavian 1960s and 1970s pop underground and feminism.
Divided between venues, Kunstnernes Hus displays gym vaulting horses and umbrella stands dressed as armored knights flanked by a grand-scale projection. Through the film piece, audiences follow Tenvik’s character Earl Eglinton (enacted by musician Jenny Hval). Very literally ‘soft-armored’, donning a pink and silvery fabric costume and heart-dotted cotton underwear, she/he slowly becomes aware of the quixotic failure of making actual events meet her/his high tournament aspirations during a banquet.
At UKS, Tenvik’s own investigation of the ‘original’ story is presented as described in Ian Anstruther’s account of the tournament “The Knight and the Umbrella”. From the artist’s mannered, cartoonish drawings—filtering Eglinton’s heraldic symbols and story—to short, slapstick film snippets from her own, failed attempt at reenacting-the-reenactment during a quest to Scotland. Digging into her wondrous world—from artwork-illustrations to glossy shots of her posing in fashion for both on- and off-line publication—draws attention to Tenvik’s manifold practice and opens the question of where this practice begins and ends—and whether it does indeed do the latter.