Photo: Johanna Kassel
BENDING THE LINE OF SIGHT
Exhibition at NAU Gallery, Stockholm
Artist book / Glass lens / Photography
Interview / Traction Magazine
by Susie Pentelow.
Originally trained as a glass blower, Mette Colberg challenges traditional perspectives on glass. Shifting the emphasis from the handcrafted object to look at to the filter that we look through, she explores the potential of the material to subvert our perception of the world around us.
Here, she talks to Traction about her recent exhibition ‘Bending the Line of Sight’ at NAU gallery, Stockholm.
You have extensive training in the field of glass work and are a skilled glass blower. Can you talk a bit about how your interests in the material qualities of glass have changed and developed over the years?
My first fascination with glass was of the technical kind. I was blown away when I saw glass blowing for the first time as a kid and I decided then and there that this was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a skilled glassblower and I wanted to be able to master the material like they could. That was what got me started with glass, but then over time something happened and the fascination for the technical aspects of glass transformed into an even deeper fascination for the material itself and especially the transparent aspect of it.
Tell us about ‘Bending the line of Sight’, your solo exhibition at NAU Gallery in Stockholm. What work will you be showing?
The exhibition is made from a mindset that focuses on glass as a mediator and the act of seeing. Since 2012 I have been working with the idea of flipping the perspective from looking at glass to looking through glass and let the art be what happens through the material. I do this by making my own camera filters, which have different optics and distortion and I see how the different qualities are changing the world, as I know it and document it through photography. It is very much about construction, de-construction and re-construction – construction of self, surroundings, friends, life, taste, look, look at etc. I construct a camera filter that constructs an image that can trigger thoughts about construction.
You describe glass as taking on a role of a 'mediator’ in your work. Can you elaborate on this idea?
When I talk about glass as a mediator I am talking about how glass, and especially the transparency of glass, can emphasize immateriality and raise questions of a more philosophical character. The glass is the vehicle, the machine, through which the world as I know it and see it is transformed and questioned.
How much control do you have over your experiments? Are you often surprised by your material?
All the time! And that is why I work with glass, because it manages to surprise and puzzle me over and over again. My method is quite controlled and reflective and I always have an idea of an end goal when I start on a new piece; probably of a more philosophical and metaphoric kind like a question I want to try to answer. But then in the process of making the material takes over and turn everything upside down, work in unexpected ways or making me discover something that is fare more interesting then my initial idea. It is a sort of collaboration between the material and me and I always try to stay attentive and alert on what is happening in the process since that is often where the magic happens.
What will you be working on in the coming months?
One work always inspires another and there doesn’t seem to be a full stop in my work, but more of a current status, like for example the exhibition. So the work that I will be doing the next months will be reflections and further development of what I have been working on so fare. I have been consumed with this way of working and thinking for about 3 years now and it doesn’t seem to stop anytime soon.