SNOWFLAKES IN SUMMERby Niamh McCooey
When Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art opened its doors in Oslo last Saturday morning, visitors were then able to enter a brand new immersive installation by Hong Kong-born artist Carla Chang. Titled In the Ashes of Snow, this installation is formed of a kinetic machine simulating snowfall indoors, in which pure white snowflakes descend through the space and slowly change colour from white to black. Forming part of her exhibition Black Moves, this work is at once strangely misplaced and intriguing, creating a subtle drama and bittersweet beauty for the gallery’s unsuspecting visitors.
Manipulated by temperature, the colour of the snow particles changes by means of thermocrome technology; a specialised type of ink that changes colour when subjected to heat. This minimalist expression refers to traditional Chinese ink painting, adding a typically poetic dimension to Carla’s work, whose practice is often based on the premise of an extended fear of nature, its phenomena and ambiguities. Making In the Ashes of Snow she was inspired by a photograph of a snowy mountaintop covered by black layers of carbon particles from a nearby factory. What at first glance appears to be a spectacle of beauty is, upon closer inspection, transformed into a scary reality.
This snowy installation, while beautiful at first, contains a discreet criticism and concern for the future of our environment. A piercing approach has come to be a steadfast element of Carla’s installations, which often evoke an overwhelming, sublime experience of nature located somewhere between reality and illusion, figuration and abstraction. Her works are also often accompanied by a soundtrack that originates from computer-processed information, further emphasising this strangely technological relationship we have with nature today.
Black Moves, 17 June -13 August
Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art, Oslo Plads 1