Six questions for
Thora Dolven Balke

Tique | art paper asks six questions to an artist about their work and inspiration.
This week: Thora Dolven Balke.

Artist Thora Dolven Balke
Lives in Rio de Janeiro and Lofoten, Norway

How do you describe your own art practice?

A mixture of documentation and fiction, in the slippage between analogue and digital image making, sound and sculpture. I like to explore the language we use to describe experiences that seem impossible, although they are perhaps the most real of all; experiences related to your own fragility, to time, to community, to self-preservation.

What was your first experience with art?

My parents are both artists so I grew up being part of my mothers work, and going on tour with my father who is a musician and performer. Still I felt I had completely my own discovery of art and what it meant to me. A first moment I remember is finding a book of the Swedish painter Hilma af Klint (1862-1944), who made this incredible body of work completely outside of any art movements at the time, abstract compositions that predate Kandinsky and Malevich. I was struck by how she combines intellect and emotion in a powerful, unflinching way.

What is your greatest source of inspiration?

People and the things they do, in mundane and critical moments.

What do you need in order to create your work?

Time, my own space, and a mixture of mental calm and external pressure.

What are you working on at the moment?

All that respires, conspires’ is a radiopodcast series and exhibition project I’ve been working on for 18 months, across Brasil, US, Germany, Norway and the UK. It is a series of conversations with people from several fields like natural science, medicine, art, music, anthropology, education, justice and philosophy – about conspiring. The word to conspire etymologically means to breathe together (con– + –spirare) and thinking of this original meaning is an invitation to subvert it from its general connotation. So ‘conspiration’ is also transposed to mean sensitivity, communication, instinct and synchronicity, within oneself and in relation to other beings, bodies and citizens. The project will launch at Ultima Music Festival and UKS Young artists Society in Oslo on the 7th of September and I’m so proud to have many incredible people on board, who have wanted to collaborate with me.

What work or artist has most recently surprised you?

Recently I saw Rivane Neuenschwanders exhibition O nome do medo (The name of fear) at the MAR – the Rio Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro. I did not know anything about the project and so got the pleasure of gradually interpreting the colourful, inventive, playful capes, each adorned with words that make up a fear – described by a child and then interpreted into these sculptural garments. I was very moved by this naming of fear, making it physical and putting it in the open without undermining its power, taking it seriously. Also Marina Wefforts recent exhibition Tecido at Galeria Cavalo in Rio. Her textile compositions have so much character, light and strength in a way that reminds me of Agnes Martins paintings.

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