ELLEN HENRIETTE SUHRKE
Syncronized HD-video and visual interpretation. Duration: 10:06 min
Curated by Malin Barth
The video «Touch Tours» has its genisis from a series of tactile tours, arranged for blind participants in the Botanical Garden in Oslo. Ellen Henriette Suhrke invited members from the Norwegian Association of the Blind to the garden, where a gardener would give them a guided tour. The gardener placed careful consideration on which areas would provide them with the strongest impressions. The aromatic garden is constructed with plants that have a strong and distinctive scent, while the tropical climate and dense growth in the greenhouses gives a total experience of another place.
In the video the focused attention is on one of these tours, where a young, blind woman is given a personal tour. During the tour, visual impressions are replaced by touch and scent impressions, and the exploration of the plants by nostrils and fingertips evokes in the viewer a sheer mimetic response to the images on the screen. «Touch Tours» offers a seeing audience a glimpse into a different way of navigating through ones surroundings.
Accompanying the video is a soundtrack by artist Jørn Tore Egseth, consisting of field recordings from the greenhouse. These recordings have been processed, creating a musical rendition of the movements, touch and the place itself.
To share the video with a blind audience, «Touch Tours» has been visually interpreted by writer Inger Wold Lund. She has translated visual information into an audio description. In the short time-frame of each scene, Lund attempts to give a precise translation of what she sees, without compromising on the poetic quality of language. Selected video stills have been turned into a tactile photo book, where extracts from the audio description has been written over each image in the form of braille.
At Kunsthall 3.14 all three element in the “Touch Tour” project will be featured: Video work, Sound work, as well as the book.
Ellen Henriette Suhrke’s practice may be seen as meditations on nature and culture, where human interaction with the environment plays a vital role. Each work is based on careful planning and background studies, but still leaves room for the poetic and unexpected. Her most recent work explores how one senses ones surroundings without sight, and the experience of something described versus seen.
Suhrke holds her education from Kuvataideakatemia in Helsinki and Bergen National Academy of the Arts, where she received an MFA in 2013.
«Touch Tours» is supported by Arts Council Norway and Billedkunstnernes Vederlags-fond.
Special thanks to Eirin Frøyland, Anne Finnanger, The Natural History Museum in Oslo, and the Norwegian Association of the Blind.