“Let everything that's been planned come true. Let them believe. And let them have a laugh at their passions. Because what they call passion actually is not some emotional energy, but just the friction between their souls and the outside world. And most important, let them believe in themselves. Let them be helpless like children, because weakness is a great thing, and strength is nothing. When a man is just born, he is weak and flexible. When he dies, he is hard and insensitive. When a tree is growing, it's tender and pliant. But when it's dry and hard, it dies. Hardness and strength are death's companions. Pliancy and weakness are expressions of the freshness of being. Because what has hardened will never win.”

– Andrei Tarkovsky (The Stalker)



The exhibition consists of eight paper-works that have an apparent fragility but at the same time a very tangible presence. They are delicate, textured pieces made from prepared paper and then laid in color baths, rinsed off and painted again. The contrast between the fragile nature of the works and their raw, almost brutal energy creates a mesmerizing tension. The works are process-based, created in an interaction between the intuitive and rigorous method. There is a fixed and set up color pallete from the outset. So MIB does not work completely instinctively; the beginning of her process is wordless and unconscious, but the conscious formal considerations come quickly into the process and eventually language enters. Both the artist and the works themselves have a special insistence on materiality - the tactile as the most important. The works for the exhibition Hard Earned Innocence have been created in a chemical reaction over time and the paint's pigment settles as dust on top of the prepared paper and retains them in the present. They are suspended in time, so that the materials can be allowed to retain their rawness, their life. The works are as much about the materials, as they are the inevitable, indirect artist self-portrait. The most important thing about the works are the works themselves, they are physical philosophy and they contain a reality that one does not have to understand through words or language. The tactile is prioritized over words, MIB does not have a total distrust of language or words: but insists that the material experience is an equally valid method of understanding and being in the world. The paper-works give a bodily response, you can by looking at them almost physically feel how fragile they are. They are not a pure optical experience, they are real things in the world, and hopefully the viewer absorbs themself in the materials and colors and so absorbs in a physical experience. The works have titles but the artist does not want to tell people through them what to experience or think. The works are made for people themselves and the experience and interpretation are theirs. And many things are best or only understood through the wordless, there is a code that is visual and that is outside language and that is just as important as words, if not more.





Bereft Rooftops, Violet Blue, acrylic on prepared paper, 68 x 44 cm


Innocence the Hard Way, Flashe on prepared paper 40 x 31 cm


Black Dahlia for Carole Sneeman, acrylic on prepared paper, 68 x 44 cm


Collateral Damage, Acrylic on prepared paper, 67 x 44 cm


Wrybill Marie I, watercolor on prepared paper, 90 x 69 cm


That day at the playground I knew that never in my life was I going to get in. Not just fit in, get in (For Lucia Berlin), watercolor on prepared paper, 68 x 44 cm


Wrybill Marie II, watercolor on prepared paper, 90 x 69 cm


They call me Mowgli, watercolor on prepared paper, 60 x 42 cm



All Contents © Marie Irmgard Birkedal 2021