L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e ~ D o s t o ï e v s k i

L a - b e a u t é - s a u v e r a - l e - m o n d e  ~  D o s t o ï e v s k i

Sunday, December 30, 2018


Magnhild Kennedy, aka Damselfrau, is a Norwegian artist living in London. From Trondheim, she grew up in a home where both parents were artists, but says she never learned about crafts or textiles, any of the skills that would be relevant to her current work. When she moved to London in 2007, she and her partner frequented nightclubs, clubs centered on the display of full-on fancy dress. At some point she created masks for the two of them and mask making quickly became the focus of her work. At the time, she was working in a vintage designer clothing shop, and the owner would let her work on her own designs while behind the counter. She's self-taught, gaining her skills by trial and error, making a close examination of the construction and craftsmanship of some of the garments in the vintage shop, and even resorting to YouTube tutorials. She uses Damselfrau for her mask work as it seems rather a word that masks itself; it signifies an unmarried and married woman at the same time. She says it's come to mean something like “married to oneself.”

Asked about the seeming visual parallels between her creations and the restrictive face-covering veils - niqab, hijab, chador, or burqa - that many Muslim women are expected to wear, she has said that that was never her intention, that her work wasn't any sort of political statement. But says that she certainly doesn't mind if it adds to the conversation, and feels that "Everyone should be able to wear whatever they want."


I work with masks as autonomous works of art as well as action-objects. For me the mask is a place where different elements come together as situation. The work is about this place-situation, more so than the mask as a theme or category of form. The mask is a place.

I use found as well as self-produced material. I have used fine lace, carried by the nineteen century Norwegian author Camilla Collett, hair from two-hundred year old Japanese geisha hair pieces as well as everyday stuff, found in the street. I am an autodidact and find great pleasure in solving technical problems in the making of my work. A half improvised solving of a factual problem is for me more satisfying than a conventional take on a known material or technique.

I am led by the phantasms appearing in the process of the making and the materials themselves. These guide my decisions and inform the objects I make.

The becoming of character as play, in between the theatrical projective and the actual of the veil, has the effect that the masks equally are subject to the projection of others as well as my own. It is in this space that the objects exist and where I find new ones.

You can learn more about the artist and find her blog, etc., HERE.


And thank you to Paul G. Ellis for introducing me to this artist on his wonderful Facebook page, Attire's Mind.

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