Thora Dolven Balke


Thora Dolven Balke lives and works between Oslo and Rio de Janeiro, where she completed the Capacete programme in 2016. Recent solo exhibitions are FLOW, Cavalo, Rio de Janeiro (2019); All that respires, conspires at UKS, Oslo and Ultima Festival (2017); Von hinten durch die Brust ins Auge at Kristiansand Kunsthall (2015) – recent group exhibitions and other projects include Mind moves with matter, body blends into space, Kunsthall Trondheim (2019); Off the Page, Bergen Kunsthall (2017); Slutten, Kristiansand Kunsthall (2017); Innland, Centre Création Contemporaine Olivier Debré, Frankrike (2017) and The Young Lions, Preus Fotomuseum, Oslo (2017). Among other curatorial projects, Dolven Balke curated the biennale Lofoten International Art Festival – LIAF – with Linn Pedersen in 2011 and co-funded and programmed the artist-run space REKORD in Oslo from 2006 to 2010.

Presenting a new series of works, Thora Dolven Balke’s second solo exhibition at MELK is a reflection on bodies in vulnerable situations and the often mundane spaces where major life events unfold. FLOW continues Dolven Balke’s exploration of the slippage between analogue and digital mediums, presenting original and enlarged polaroid photographs, epoxy resin and silicone cast objects and a video installation, all from 2019.

FLOW imagines the body as a system of open channels that its owner can lose control over in certain singular but commonplace situations, related to sexuality, illness, childbirth and age. Images from intimate domestic scenes are interspersed with hospital interiors and marine animals, alongside a series of tinted fountain heads. These are based on faces found in the gardens of Museu do Açude, in the Tijuca forest in Rio de Janeiro, undated and made by unknown artists. Spending time in the park, Dolven Balke saw an image of this life-flow in the fountain figures, with their gaping mouths relentlessly spilling water. In collaboration with the museum she was able to take moulds of them on site.

The flow is of time through matter, preserved in a variety of materials with different life-spans. Traces of water through stone and copper are captured in resin, while the slow disintegration of a whale’s body is made physical by an augmented TV flat screen, disassembled to expose the fragile technology beneath. A series of silicone objects, with industrial patterns cast from anti-slip matts, allude to the surface of skin. Encasing original polaroid photographs, they are shown alongside enlarged prints that make visible the dust, hairs and organic matter from the scan, sharp against the larger soft motif. The subjects seem to exist in a liquid atmosphere, floating between layers of chemicals and light, stuck in the thickness of an instant.

The exhibition is supported by the Arts Council Norway.

List of worksDownload ↓

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