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Elle + Klone. Up North Fest X BSA: Røst, Norway. Dispatch 5

Posted on July 15, 2017

This is the third year for Northern Norway’s UPN Festival and this year it’s on an Island called Røst and includes a collection of artists eager to do site-specific and environmental works – one evolutionary development in the mural festivals that blossom throughout the world right now. This week BSA is proud to bring you images and interviews along with Urban Nation this year at UpNorth, where the seagulls never stop calling and the sun never goes down this time of year.

We wind up the week on the island of Røst with almost a mystical sense, perhaps because of the inspirational messages we continued to see within the statements of this year’s artists. Today we see the metaphorical storytelling of Elle at war on the seas and the striking installation by Klone Yourself (or Klone) called “The Songs of the Vikings”

A surrealist illustrator experimenting with different styles and mediums on Street Art pieces and murals in cities, Klone’s works on walls often feature simplified and distorted forms, figures, and creatures occupying a space that is seemingly suspended in air. An uprooted Ukrainian immigrant now from Tel Aviv, the mid-30s artist is looking at existential matters today in the way you do when you have had to adjust to a radically new environment.

Klone. Up North Fest 2017. Røst, Norway. (photo © Tor Ståle Moen)

One examines fundamentals and pillars of a culture, its history, norms and language – and then struggles to find a place within it. For his installation in Norway, the artist studied the location and the history of the region, combined that study with his own history, and constructed “Viking” swords for a site specific piece that takes on many shadings of significance.

“The texts on the swords are coming from various sources: Viking poetry and songs, contemporary references like music and literature we grow up on, and personal remarks and thoughts on life and daily struggles,” says Klone about his striking installation by the sea. “In a way this is a series of protective runes, planted in the ground, like after a big battle, some of the text disappearing, some still exposed. Some of the truth is always gone, and it’s all relative.

Klone. Up North Fest 2017. Røst, Norway. (photo © Tor Ståle Moen)

BSA: Can you talk about this striking and meaningful installation you did by the sea for UpNorth?
Klone: My main goal for the UpNorth festival was to complete my installation that was planned specifically for it. The installation consists of wooden swords, cut out by me from found wood (mostly wood that was used for building houses on the island), with text written on the swords.

Later those swords got stuck into a hill structure on the island. This installation has and can have so many meanings, to both me and the random viewer, so I’ll explain some of my intention – and anyone else can take it somewhere else, as people already did while I was installing my piece and directly after it was completed.

The sword is a symbol of power through thousands of years. A wooden sword is a toy, meant to play with. In a way it is to prepare us for one day holding a real sword, real power, or at least real representation of it, no matter how prepared or not we are.

On a personal note – my name is Igor, and this is the name my mother gave me when I was born and later explained to me that she gave me a Viking name so I could grow to be a strong man. In a way I hope I did become kind of a Viking. A free man, at least as much as I’d like to think so, somewhat a pirate, and always on the move with deep respect for history and traditions as well as a love for innovation. For me this was a kind of a closure, to bring this installation to a place that felt like it’s meant to be.

Klone. Up North Fest 2017. Røst, Norway. (photo © Tor Ståle Moen)

BSA: How would you describe the environment working in Røst?
Klone Yourself: The Røst environment is insane. It feels like another planet over there and with the 24/7 daylight, its easy to feel so.

I think it’s amazing to experience a place so old and yet so wholesome and not destroyed by modern civilizations. Yes they have machines, Internet and restaurants, but it seems like the people just want to live their lives and are not really bothered by what’s happening around them.

BSA: How are you challenging yourself as an artist right now?
Klone Yourself: I’m challenging myself as an artist on a daily basis. My practice is always on a few levels of perception, depending on the time and the place of course. As I work in drawing, painting, installation, video and mural painting, the limits are far to be seen, and there’s so much to try and learn yet.

The most appropriate personal title for the piece is – “Song of the Viking” , as a tribute to songs written by Vikings to their gods, and as a tribute to this land now and then.

Klone. Up North Fest 2017. Røst, Norway. (photo © Tor Ståle Moen)

The American experimentalist Elle tries anything once – including fire extinguishers, rollers, aerosol, wheatpastes, silkscreens and bus stop takeovers – legal and illegal. Her illustrative style often centers around a fantastical avatar, a heroic and sensual woman who is exploring new psychological landscapes.

Here in Røst the heroine of a shipwreck casts a wide eye at you as she climbs through a tumultuous and harrowing sea storm. The metaphors are many and so is the range of Elles ever-increasing skills.

ELLE. Up North Fest 2017. Røst, Norway. (photo © Tor Ståle Moen)

ELLE. Up North Fest 2017. Røst, Norway. (photo © Tor Ståle Moen)

ELLE. Up North Fest 2017. Røst, Norway. (photo © Tor Ståle Moen)

ELLE. Up North Fest 2017. Røst, Norway. (photo © Tor Ståle Moen)

ELLE. Up North Fest 2017. Røst, Norway. (photo © Tor Ståle Moen)

ELLE. Up North Fest 2017. Røst, Norway. (photo © Tor Ståle Moen)

Our thanks to our partner Urban Nation (UN) and to photographer Tor Ståle Moen for his talents.

See our Up North roundup piece on The Huffington Post

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