Named after an ancient Sumerian city, Mette Tommerup’s Love, Ur exhibition currently on view at Emerson Dorsch gallery (emersondorsch.com) is an interactive wonderland meant to take you back to a much simpler time when primal instincts led our conscious thought.
The Danish artist takes gigantic canvases and exposes them to the elements to create layer upon layer of textured beauty. Constrained and then pigmented and unraveled, the process resembles tie-dye but Tommerup’s version is much more labor-intensive. “When the canvases are wet, they weigh as much as a person…it’s almost performance art, the process of making them.”
The stretched and unstretched canvases are meant to represent the human experience and the artist’s own frustrations with power systems and hierarchies in the art world while touching upon feminist issues too. “I wanted to keep it as raw and very open as possible. I don’t want to limit the conversation.” The pieces hark back in time when art was more experimental and, in some ways more pure.
“I happen to be born in 1969…I like to think back then in the art world, it was a very noncommercial time. It was a time of conceptual art. People were experimenting with their bodies and getting out of the studios.”
Creating the canvases helped Tommerup reconnect with her work. “The art world can be very suffocating at times. I needed to scrape things away and fight with the work and make it important again for and hopefully for everyone as well.”
The colorful canvases are confined and bound and there is tension in the process, but once stretched they are “liberated.” So much so that visitors might do a double-take when they see them move – the artists enlists her high-school intern to wear the canvases and move throughout the exhibit. “it’s a slow-moving feature – a little haunting, people don’t know at first that she is moving.”
The great Dane, who recently became a U.S. citizen in order to vote, is also working on her next project with Locust Projects, which focuses on the centennial of the passing of the 19th Amendment-which gave women the right to vote- and launches a week after the 2020 election. “I’ve been very angry with the political situation and that fueled my work…I’m in complete disbelief every day, even rage.”