Flemming Jespersen

Extracts from an Interview with Martin Erik Andersen

(Interview – EN)

Extracts from an interview with Martin Erik Andersen by Flemming Jespersen


How is your work process? Do you work for example with sketches or through a more immediate approach?


My work process consists probably first and foremost of a range of attempts to get around or to circumvent the thinking which have produced existing work. So I suppose it’s an attempt to work as straight forward or directly as I can – even though it can seem like a way to play hide and seek with ones own methods and perception which in itself necessarily is a labyrinth of detours. In that context the sketch and the small scale model is a very effective tool. To be able to reduce something is the prerequisite for all communication, even the internal.


You work with sculpture, installation and drawing. Do you see yourself as a sculptor who works with an outset in the great history and tradition of sculpture or as an installation artist with roots going back to environment art and concept art? Or do you see yourself as being somewhere inbetween?


My viewpoint is that there probably already is a tradition inside environment art and concept art, although possibly a reluctant one. So whether the reference is to renaissance, concept art or subculture I think is secondary, the primary focal point for me is that there is a reference at all. So therefore I prefer it to be as flexible as possible. Visual art is always being produced through an exchange with other visual thinking and is always socially radical, even when it is played out privately, which, among other things, is why it is interesting to work with. So yes, I do prefer the space inbetween. When all the chairs are taken I don’t mind flopping around on the floor. The space inbetween consists of fragments and therefore endless possibilities of creating new connections and contexts through which to discover and explore unforeseen and overlooked outcomes. Which by the way is also how tradition is kept alive, discovering the fractures created through investigative repetition.


Your works have a very varied expression spanning from sculpture to elaborate installations consisting of light, sound, various objects and materials. Is there a red thread?


I suppose there is, even though I work hard to try and cut that thread. I always invest my body in what I do and a body has a long range of different imprints some more evident than others. Furthermore I generally work with the relationship between space, body and mind as a kind of equal relation to each other often boiled down to the relation between surface and space, or drawing and mass. A mimic of the relation between the limitations of our perception and the world we have to deal with. And them I work with a reasonably stable notion of a work concept. I do this through a belief in the visually artistic as a highly intensive borderless space where everything that happens is chosen with intent. I am hereby not saying that such a thing such as bad art doesn’t exist, I am merely saying that I have a great respect for the artistic space and through this even bad art is something that I take very seriously. When one is confronted fx. In the visual arts with a torn piece of paper or a blob of mayonnaise, then it’s in principle never a flaw or a coincidence but always a highly organised choice made with intent. A certain kind of sensibility or a particular form of aggression has been present in the framework which has demanded that exact application to the artwork. That I try to pursue a kind of seriousness all the way to the very edge off what is artistically feasible is probably the red thread in my work.


Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Beuys stand as two of the key figures of the 20th century art. They both expanded the concept of sculpture, Beuys with “social plasticity” and Duchamp with the “readymade” concept. What significance has Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Beuys had for you?


They are naturally two very important figures and both have obtained an almost saint-like status in the artworld and they each have a very broad and a thoroughly investigated production. They have each in their own way changed the artistic language far beyond their own production. That being said I must admit, and I don’t think I’m the only one who finds, that there are sides to these artists which I find a little difficult today. Duchamp’s urinal and Beuys’ romantic side are quite worn expressions today. But personally I’m far from done with for example Duchamp’s titles and the great glass, as well as Beuys’ drawings which I can’t picture myself letting go of.


How great an importance does the aesthetic parameter play in your work?


The concept of the aesthetic relates to the sensuous whereby it refers to the very foundations of the bodily registration of our surroundings. The aesthetic refers to some very basic bodily notions which cover everything from happiness to disgust and it is also in relation to aesthetics one rates what is good or bad taste. Furthermore it is also a range of complex cultural and social codes which binds our body in a certain historic sensory space. I sometimes try to work very pragmatically to connect various connotative spaces, and in these situations these codes can be extremely useful tools.