Interview: Idun Baltzersen

Idun Baltzersen’s Blå timmen (The Blue Hour) from 2018 is on view this fall at Magasin III as part of the exhibition A Quiet Spring Wanders Through the Apartment

Below you can read a short interview with the artist about the work.

In Blå timmen, as in many of your other works, the characters you depict are shown with their backs turned toward the observer. Can you tell us more about these figures?

Idun Baltzersen: I think the back is interesting because it is a part of your body you can’t see yourself. There’s something unfamiliar about backs. The turned-away characters are also unfamiliar to the observer; they are ignoring the observer or are busy with something and therefore cannot meet the observer’s gaze. They are also often young women. Braids and ponytails are well-suited to woodcuts. When I created this artwork, I was particularly interested in equestriennes and how the riders’ braids were often reflected in the horses’ tails, and when these are done in woodcuts, they begin to look increasingly similar. The stable is also quite difficult as a setting. I am also interested in recreating a social structure or hierarchy. The characters can be depicted in groups, but they don’t interact with each other; they look quite alone. I am often inspired by popular culture, film, and television, and I collect visual references by doing things like taking screenshots or finding my own ways of recreating interesting gestures or characters I find.

How would you describe the process of creating Blå timmen?

IB: I always collect a number of characters before doing a work like Blå timmen. I then make simple sketches based on these characters, which I use as the foundation, projecting them onto plywood. I follow the factory format (most often 122 x 244 cm) and select the type of wood carefully because some are softer and others can give a very woody texture to the finished print. Birch, which I used in Blå timmen, is soft and doesn’t have a particular texture, which allows me to carve freely in all directions. I carve a single character into each plywood sheet, which is painted black so I can see what I’m doing as I carve the lightness from the picture. When the picture is finished, it is time to print, which I do by hand on textiles in different dyes. After I’ve done about five prints of each character, I sort the different colors into piles and try to figure out which ones fit together. Then I cut the prints and lay them on the floor in my studio, moving the different figures around and trying to find a good composition, almost as if they were paper dolls. When I’m pleased with how it looks, I sew everything together.
Idun Baltzersen, Blå timmen, 2018. Magasin III Collection. Photo Jean-Baptiste Beranger.
Idun Baltzersen. Photo courtesy of Galleri Magnus Karlsson.