& Toril Johannessen
Captured through a light microscope, ‘Reclaiming Vision’
features a diverse cast of microorganisms, sampled from the brackish waters of
the inner Oslo Fjord, alongside algae, cultivated at the University of Oslo.
The film reveals various processes in the water that are hidden to the naked
human eye. By investigating the brackish water, its inhabitants, its
properties, and the traces left by human activities, the film is a reflection
upon the relationship we humans have with our surroundings, especially through
what we cannot see.
The film is inspired by real and historical events. The scenes have been staged
by the artists, taking the presumption of reality that characterises nature
documentaries into the realm of fiction film. Any resemblance to scientific
research is coincidental. Starting from the assertion that looking evolved from
the sea – eyes, in fact, evolved from marine algae – ‘Reclaiming Vision’ takes
the viewer on a journey through various ways of looking at, relating to and
The main characters in the film are from brackish water. Central to the film is
the notion of brackish with its many, mostly negative, connotations. The
conditions of brackish water are affected by natural phenomena such as the
tides and seasonal variation, but are also affected by rising sea levels as a
result of climate change. Therefore, brackish water plays an important role as
a warning sign in the prediction of various ecological scenarios for many
coastal societies worldwide. Melting ice caps might influence global ocean
currents by altering the saline levels, which again will have a disastrous
impact on microorganisms in the oceans that are responsible for 50–85 % of the
world's oxygen production and CO2 storage. Without these microorganisms, planet
Earth would become uninhabitable for most living creatures.
The film highlights the fact that human efforts to understand the world
continues to be based on detached contemplation of observable phenomena. This
pervades despite scientific developments, such as the microscope, that enable
us to study our invisible co-inhabitants up close. Across different
disciplines, people are constantly re-evaluating our relationship with our
surroundings and are trying to find new approaches that transcend binary thinking
and the view that nature is just an economic resource.
While ‘Reclaiming Vision’ reveals life on the smallest scale, its scope relates
to global phenomena.
Toril Johannessen (b.1978, Norway) is an artist based in Tromsø. Ways of seeing
— and not seeing — are recurring themes in Johannessen’s artistic practice.
Combining historical records with fiction and her own investigations, her works
often has elements of storytelling in visual or written form. Exhibitions
include solo shows at The Munch Museum (w/Marjolijn Dijkman), Oslo (2018);
ARoS, Aarhus (2017); and Museum of Contemporary Art, Oslo (2016), and
international group shows such as the 13th Dak’Art Bienniale de Dakar (2018);
the 13th Istanbul Biennial (2013) and Documenta 13 (2012).
Marjolijn Dijkman (b. 1978, The Netherlands) is an artist and co-founder of
Enough Room for Space and is based in Brussels. Her interdisciplinary works can
be seen as a form of science-fiction; partly based on research based facts but
brought into the realm of fiction, abstraction and speculation. Exhibitions
include solo shows at Muchmuseum (with Toril Johannessen), Oslo, NO (2018),
fig.-2, ICA, London, UK (2015), IKON Gallery, Birmingham UK (2011), the
Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, US (2010), and international group shows such as
the 21st Biennale of Sydney (2018); the 11th Shanghai Biennial (2016) and the
8th Sharjah Biennial (2007).
Marjolijn Dijkman & Toril Johannessen
Reclaiming Vision (2018)
Music by Henry Vega
Commissioned by Munchmuseet on the Move
The Munch Museum - Oslo, Norway