Unfastened thread

Unfastened thread

In her recent projects, Fahlstrøm has focused on the thread’s linearity and its representation of time. Emphasizing on the existential aspect, she examines how we move through time and under which conditions. Using a medium based on singularity and complexity, she explores and maps the different paths of our existence.

Unfastened thread, explores the processes involved with being located on the surface without taking root: a state of entanglement that occur when unfastened threads intertwine. The project was shown at the artist run space tête, Berlin 2016.

Documentation photos by Florian Bong-Kil Grosse.

Time wanderer (2015)

As I was invited to participate in the exhibition series Erratiker, I interpreted it as a project which stresses the aspect of displacement and wandering.

Contrary to the English word erratic (wanderer), the German word emphasizes the aspect of finding: Findling, something which has been found, but which seems to be strangely displaced. We all have found ourselves feeling displaced: Feeling like a Findling, waiting to be found and put into a context to which we belong, a context which gives us space, even a narrative. For me, born in Korea but raised as Norwegian and having found my home in Germany, displacement is part of my biography. But displacement is but a point of view, because the Findling never needed to be found: it was never lost or displaced. It is simply a wanderer, moved by ice and wandering through time.

Inside the container which I see as a Findling in its own right, I explore narrative structures which refer to the idea of time as single moments put together in the shape of a continuous line. In the four large scale textile works, the thread’s point-by-point movement through the fabric is a visualization of time and thereby a trace of our concrete actions. If the textile works are maps of my existence, the double layered photograph is a snapshot.

Als ich dazu eingeladen wurde, am Projekt Erratiker mitzuwirken, interpretierte ich es als ein Projekt, das Deplatzierung und Wandern thematisiert.

Im Gegensatz zum englischen Wort für Findling, erratic (Wanderer), betont das deutsche Wort den Aspekt des Findens: Findling, etwas was gefunden wurde, aber seltsam fehl am Platz wirkt. Wir alle haben uns sicher einmal selbst deplatziert gefühlt: Wie ein Findling, darauf wartend, gefunden und in einen Kontext gerückt zu werden, einen Kontext der uns einen Raum gibt, gar ein Narrativ. Für mich, die in Korea geboren, in Norwegen aufgezogen wurde und in Deutschland eine Heimat fand, ist Deplatzierung Teil meiner Biografie. Deplatzierung ist jedoch nur ein Gesichtspunkt von vielen. Der Findling hatte es etwa nie nötig, gefunden zu werden, denn er selbst war niemals verloren oder fehl am Platz. Er ist einfach ein Wanderer, bewegt vom Eis, wandernd durch die Zeit.

Ich betrachte den Container selbst als Findling. In seinem Innern erkunde ich Erzählstrukturen, die auf Zeit als einzelne Momente, die in die Form einer kontinuierlichen Linie gebracht wurden, Bezug nehmen. In vier großformatigen Stoffwerken visualisiert die Punkt-für-Punkt-Bewegung des Fadens durch den Stoff die Zeit und ist mithin eine Spur unserer konkreten Handlungen. Insofern kartieren die Stoffwerke unsere Existenz und die mit Doppelebenen realisierten Photographien entsprechen einem Schnappschuß.

Wie bunte Fetzen hängen wir im Wind (2014)

In the project “Wie bundle Fetzen hängen wir im Wind” I explored abstract narrative structures: with a private photo archive as raw material I worked with the overlapping of two and two layers, raising the question: what does it means to be doubly exposed? The installation in its finished form consists of montages, archival news phootage and textile works, and examines the understanding of the individual in modern society. The title “Wie bundle Fetzen hängen wir im Wind” (As colorful rags we hang in the wind), refers to Montaigne’s essay in which he describes identity as something we move in and out of and which is constantly changing.

I prosjektet “Wie bunte Fetzen hängen wir im Wind” utforsket jeg abstraherte fortellergrep : med private fotoarkiv som råmateriale arbeidet jeg med overlapping av to og to lag, med spørsmålet om hva det innebærer å være dobbelt eksponert. Installasjonen i sin ferdige form består av fotomontasjer og tekstiler, og undersøker forståelsen av individet i det moderne samfunn. Tittelen ”Wie bunte fäsen hängen wir im Wind” (Som fargerike filler henger vi i vinden), referer til Montaignes essay hvor han beskriver identitet som noe vi beveger oss inn og ut av og som er i konstant forandring.

The installation was shown at House of Foundation 2014


Performance for video (2011)


“Wobbly” (2011), duration 17:56, HD video with audio, recorded at Experimental Television Center in Owego, NY



“Hairpiece” (2011), duration 10:00 min, HD video with audio, recorded at Experimental Television Center in Owego NY


“Fuzzy” (2011) duration 16:06, HD video with audio, recorded at Experimental Television Center in Owego, NY



“All of me” #2 (2011) duration 02:00 min, HD video with audio,  recorded at Experimental Television Center in Owego, NY

film Florence Foster Jenkins 2016

vision_listen #2 (2008)

Video work based on Mats Claessons reworking of Arne Nordheim‘s piece “listen” (1972), here performed by Trond Schau

Duration: 08:00 min, HD video



Exhibition history

Research material for the work was produced at Experimental Television Center, Owego NY

The work was produced with the support of the Arts Council Norway

Commissioned works


“Soloduiveldans” #2 (2004) by Simeon ten Holt, 24:04 min, commissioned by pianist Ellen Ugelvik and Concerts Norway



“Eurasion tango” (2007) by Ayuo, 04:04 min, commissioned by pianist Ellen Ugelvik



“610” (2006)

Commissioned by Bodø Sinfonietta in collaboration with composer Lars Petter Hagen. It was produced as a result of a two week trip in the north of Norway, collecting material from the same region and places where the piece later toured.

The work premiered at The Nordlys Festival, toured in the north of Norway, and was performed at the Ultima Festival for Contemporary music in Oslo.


“Vox balaenae” (2007), George Crumb, commissioned by Trond Schau


Aesthetics of separation (2006)

“The short way from red to blue. The long way from blue to red” (2006), duration 02:00 min, DV video

Exhibition history


“All of me” (2006) duration 01:53 min, DV video with audio

Exhibition history


“DMZ” (2006) original duration 04:30 min, DV video with audio

Exhibition history


Cathalogue text

Unn Fahlstrøm continues her exploration of the material possibilities of the video medium in the exhibition Aesthetics of Separation. Three video works are on display, “All of me”, “The short way from red to blue. The long way from blue to red” and “DMZ”, as well as printed stills from the films.

Fahlstrøm has previously collaborated with several composers to confront the visual– always emphasising precision, stringency and formal accuracy. The perception of depth is opposed by concealing the visible information and distorting the relationship between form and background. Thus, the artist accentuates the superficiality of the images, but at the same time integrates them into new sensuous relations

Concurrently, Fahlstrøm has adopted various musical ways to structure her images, and the videos Houndred rounds (2003), Non lo so (2004) and I reread the Odyssey last night (2005) are articulated almost like rhythmic flows:  The tension between sound and sight mobilises emotional energy from one sense to the other – from the eye to the ear and back again. Lastly, Fahlstrøm’s most important mode of operation is the spectator’s sensual interplay.

In this perspective Aesthetics of Separation might appear as a step in another direction: While Fahlstrøm previously has founded her worked on more sensual and intuitive principles, the aesthetic reflection is now explicited with a pronounced theme. The visual interplay between the works constitutes a soundboard that encourages a total understanding, yet does not distract from the material qualities of the individual pieces.

On the one hand, Fahlstrøms opens a more intimate sphere of references which easily can be interpreted as personal: “All of me” displays the artist’s lips while she sings, whereas “DMZ” is based on video recordings from the demilitarised zone at the border between North- and South-Korea. These signs of sentimentality and nostalgia are counterbalanced by the absoluteness of Fahlstrøm’s formal criteria. What immediately appears as a personal motive does not acquire the character of univocal affectivity, and is, in fact, represented in a tone of discreet humour.

Aesthetics of Separation plays with complex paradoxes that challenge the spectator by questioning how the visible is brought to be seen. “The short way from red to blue. The long way from blue to red.” presents the scale of colours as an asymmetric motive. As a colour print on aluminium, it depicts a horizontal configuration that can be perceived from left to right as one reads, but also the other way. Apparently, the same motive can be found on screen as to separate phase transitions. There are no exchanges or blurring between the isolated halves. They follow their own courses, but still the red and the blue finally change positions. The exhibition space is therefore the scene of a reflective process where the qualities of the works resonate and circulate through different dimensions and directions without the support of material continuity.

Aesthetics of Separation is the staging of a longing that immediately changes character to become something else. Through imperceptible nuances it shifts from being experienced in passive silence to become a repeatable performative potential. This longing is therefore doubled – it is motivated and remotivated, to be played out in new generous gestures and movements.

Camilla Shim Winge

I reread the Odyssey last night (2005)

An installation using an exhibition space with 3 different rooms to create the sensation of a story stretched out in space using leaking sound from 8 speakers and the composition of 4 video tracks. Using found footage from Godard’s film “le mépris”; the installation captures the characters in a dream-like labyrinth of echoes and memories.