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Frithjof Hoel - Let there be light

9:52, 2012, Video Art
In September 2011, I travelled to Armenia with some of my artist friends.
It was a journey, where I was dramatically confronted with the Armenian history, both in the past and the present.
We were working with an exhibition "On Trial - Christ 2012" which in June 2012 was shown in Oslo, Norway. It was a show that put faith and existential issues in focus.
The Armenians are one of the oldest nations in the world and adopted Christanity in 301 a.c. Armenia has geographically and historically been placed between the hammer and the anvil, surrounded and caught between hostile muslim countries. Their strong Christian faith and love for their land has kept this nation together despite the greatest disaster , such as the Muslim Turks genocide of 1.5 millions Armenians in 1915.

In my video "Let there be Light" I´m also trying to visualize the very strong and almost religious relationship the Armenians have to their Holy Mountain Ararat.

My video is a tribute to this brave people.


DirectorFrithjof HoelProducerFrithjof HoelWriterFrithjof HoelCameraFrithjof HoelEditorAaslaug Krokann BergCrewReading: Simon Nicholas

CountryNorwayEdition2012 ScreeningsGallery F15, Oslo, Norway

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Interview

Who is Frithjof Hoel?
I´m an Norwegian artist who work with video, photo, painting, text and sculpture presented as project-based installations.


What is Let there be light about?
In September 2011, I travelled to Armenia with some of my artist friends.
It was a journey, where I was dramatically confronted with the Armenian history, both in the past and the present.
We were working with an exhibition "On Trial - Christ 2012" which in June 2012 was shown in Oslo, Norway. It was a show that put faith and existential issues in focus.
The Armenians are one of the oldest nations in the world and adopted Christanity in 301 a.c. Armenia has geographically and historically been placed between the hammer and the anvil, surrounded and caught between hostile muslim countries. Their strong Christian faith and love for their land has kept this nation together despite the greatest disaster, such as the Muslim Turks genocide of 1.5 millions Armenians in 1915.

In my video "Let there be Light" I´m also trying to visualize the very strong and almost religious relationship the Armenians have to their Holy Mountain Ararat.


How did you start with film? And do you have an educational background in art or film?
I have my education/degree from Archeology and Osteology at the University in Stockholm, Sweden and from the National Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo, Norway but I started with film after I finished my artstudies.


Could you explain how you work, what themes or concepts you use and what is important to you?
For several years, I have worked with artistic projects concerning the problems that arise in the meeting of art, history, science and ethics.

A colleague and I did, i.e., an artistic collaboration that we called«Norwegian folk types», which we showed in many venues in Norway. We looked closely at the scientific research that the Norwegian anthropologist Halfdan Bryn did during his extensive travels in Norway in the 1920s. He took measurements for a Head Index of a broad selection of the Norwegian population, thereby drawing his conclusions on the origins of the Norwegian people and of the racial differences between the different parts of the country and the folk types.
By reworking this material, and the presentation of it as an artinstallation, we wished to focus on questions concerning the historical premises of national identity and of the scientific definiton of the concept of race, at the same time shedding light on contemporary currents in today’s society.

I have also taken a closer look on the research done by the Norwegian racial hygienist Dr. Jon Alfred Mjøen at Vinderen Biological Laboratory in the 1930s. I also sought out several archives in Germany and France, where I gathered documentary photographic material from the medical experiments executed on humans by German doctors during the Second World War. Some of this material was also used as a basis for a series of paintings in black-and white tones, which I exhibited in Bergen Kunsthall and Galleri LNM in Oslo.

During a study trip to Paris, I met the known Nazi hunters Beate and Serge Klarsfeldt, a meeting which had a great impact on my art. Along with her husband Serge Klarsfeldt, she tracked down the Nazi criminal Klaus Barbie, and got him expedited from Argentina to France in 1984, where he was tried in court and condemned for crimes agains humanity.

This work also inspired my interest in the esthetics of fascism, in particular within film and painting, and how this esthetic was used as propaganda for fascist/stalinist regimes. The German filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl’s films have also been important to me – films that are propaganda, but also art.

This gave me a greater awareness of the phenomenon of fascism.

My works today have become centered on a set of motifs where I work with painting, photography, text and video, presented as a sort of installation where art, history, science and ethics, or rather the absensce of ethics, meet each other and with a perspective that also shed light into our contemporary. It´s a critique of the human longing for purity, a longing that has lead to widespread genocide. This Utopian Longing for purity has occupied my thoughts and work for many years. The reading of «Modernity and the Holocaust» has been very important for the development of my artproject «Visions of Purity»

I work, apart from painting, photographs and texts, also with video works circling the same theme. I have made a video which takes as point of departure texts based on the German writer and war hero Ernst Jünger’s diary notes from the 1930s until the 1950s, which I have called "War Diary – Inspired by Ernst Jünger". It has been showed in Cinamateket in Oslo, and a German version has been shown in Berlin.


How long do you usually work on one project?
That depends on what kind of project I´m working with.


Do you carefully plan the production process or do you work more intuitive?
I usually carefully plan the production process.


How does the title relate to the work, and how do you find a fitting title?
The title is very important to my work and usually comes to me as I work with the project. In the show "Let there be Light" I found a poem(see below) by the Armenian poet Paruir Sevak that I used in my show.

Already 10 years, 110 years, 1010 years
That I fear
The multiple and blunt believer,
the multifaced and vain believer.

If you are a god
Blow out all their candles,
extinguish their various torches
And let there be light.

Paruir Sevak


Where do you get your ideas or inspiration from?
I use a sort og "Blut und Boden"(Blood and Soil) aesthetics in my latest installations, particually in the paintings.
"Blut und Boden" originated in the German nationalist circles in the early 1900s and was a sort of romantic/religious life philosophy in connection between family, home district and territory/land. It was also a an idealization of the traditional agricultural and peasant life.


How important is sound in film, and if you use sounds, do you create your own or use existing?
The sound is very important and I use both existing sounds and my own sounds.



What is your next project about?
In January 2013 I revisit Armenia and exhibit in the Museum of Modern Art, Yerevan with the exhibition "On Trial-Christ 2012".
I will also travel to the Armenian enclave Nagorno Karabagh and the armistice line to Azerbaidjan. I also hope to visit the abandoned city Azeri which now lies in ruins after the war against Azerbaidjan. From this journey I will make a videowork to use in an installation project in Norway next Year.


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