Thyra Dragseth
Selva Mente

Thyra Dragseth - Clareira (2020) 150 x 100 cm, inkjet Print on Cotton paper Edition of 3+2AP

September 10 – October 3, 2021

MELK is proud to present the first solo show at the gallery with Norwegian artist Thyra Dragseth, this Friday from 18.00–21.00. In Selva Mente Dragseth will show a new body of work consisting of 16 photographs and an installation.

There is a lamp which shines forcefully from the other side of a doorframe; a naked body that comes into view and disappears behind a laced curtain; a glowing line in the darkness that mirrors itself onto the tarmac road as a black-red pool of blood. The photographs of Thyra Dragseth are orgies of colours and light that pull, shutter, screen and scold the eyes of the beholder. Or put in another way; like portals they lead us towards places which we are eager to visit but dread to be held captive within. With curiosity, the images let us investigate bodyparts, structures and fragments from landscapes, the dead ones as well as the living. Anxiously, they transmit to us a restless feeling – we understand that time is up. The interval stretching from the first moment of attention until the camera lens focuses and finally executes passes by within a split second. The uncanny is a leit motive in Dragseth’s practice, desire inevitably another. When meeting her photographs we are confronted with elements that exudes an ‘unheimlich’ sensation; the odd feeling of something being familiar and strange to us at the same time. Jacques Lacan describes it as being in a state of mind where we are no longer capable of separating good from bad, pleasure from pain. With her camera, Dragseth is situated in the middle of this ambiguous world, she is the center to which illuminating events and human fantasies occur but she is also, always and forever, distant to the world she is documenting. Dragseth has taken upon herself the role of the outsider – she continually seeks gravitational points of navigation in the reality in which she herself became a part of when she moved from Norway to Portugal in 2017. Life as an immigrant is bittersweet; feelings of longing mixed with repulsion when thinking of the homely existence one has abandoned; at the same time the everpresent future appears thrillingly brutal in all its inaccessibility. Hidden in Dragseths photographs lies a critique of both the new and the old, the life chosen versus the one discarded. In these images a grid repeats itself; a guarding fence which the artist herself has chosen to reinforce. As if she wants to tell us that not everything follows human need for logic — we are not supposed to understand all that we want to. Susan Sontag writes: “in place of hermeneutics we need an erotics of art”. In response Dragseth anarchistically mixes both tenchiques and formats and thereby underlines the extra-material properties of photography. Her work consists above all of reflexive situations spread out between various places; a tender dwelling on both nature and the artificial. Like zoological garden seen from an unusual perspective. It might be worth asking oneself on which side of the fencing we stand.

Sofie Amalie Andersen
August 2021


Thyra Dragseth (b. 1993 Copenhagen) is a Norwegian artist based between Kristiansand, Norway, and Lisbon, Portugal. Dragseth works with installation, video, and photography and often involves an autobiographical approach. Her work is concerned with interpersonal relations, and the political and social context in which we are part. Dragseth is educated at the National Academy of Fine Arts, Oslo, and the faculty of Fine Arts, Lisboa. Recent solo and group shows include Estufa Fria Lisboa (2021), KÖSK, Oslo (2021), Thirdbase, Lisboa (2021), Sol, Bornholm (2019), QB Gallery, Oslo (2019).

The exhibition is supported by The Audio and Visual Fund and The Norwegian Photographic Fund (Nofofo)