Sensitivity as Strategy – Knowing, Non-knowing and the Third Alternative

Marte Johnslien, oslo national academy of the arts, department of art and craft

The project Sensitivity as Strategy will use as its point of departure my practice as a
visual artist. In my work, I often start by doing investigations into social, cultural or historical
phenomena, and their relation to the arts. My working method is to find inspiration in the use of materials or techniques in the collected information, which I then use in my studio work in the final stage of the project: the production of the sculptural or painterly reactions to the research process.

In the project description I elaborate on this working method, claiming that it activates
the use of both the intellectual and the intuitive, hence operating between the «knowing» and the «non-knowing». I am of the opinion that artists of today can get involved intuitively with their physical materials, at the same time as they can address the economical/political/social contexts they are operating within. And that this can potentially form a «third way» that acknowledges the «knowing» and the «non-knowing» as equally important, and which focuses on the connections we have to each other, to history and to nature.

In the project Sensitivity as Strategy I will investigate the Russian avant-garde artists’ use
of the term «faktura», and look at its relevance to contemporary art practice. «Faktura» is said to be a visual demonstration of the properties inherent in a material, and is also shaped by the artistic traditions, social environment, and historical context in which the work is created. I will test this term in my own practice, through theoretical research and studio work. The resulting artwork will consist of two parts: a publication and an exhibition.

The aim is that my work on «faktura» can help me describe a third way of knowing,
which I believe is relevant to both the making of and viewing of art. I will try to find support in this work to develop a set of terms that can explain a third way of knowing which is linked to our ability to see connections and feel a part of a larger story, and which is activated when the intellectual and the intuitive both are at work simultaneously and equally.