Elin Rødseth is a Norwegian printmaker whose ghostly vignettes contemplate the vagaries of Modern Life. The anonymous figures in her work struggle with the weight of trust, fatigue and the banality of everyday interactions in an increasingly connected world.
Rødseth works in an intimate scale, primarily through woodcut and photopolymer processes. She has chosen printmaking because the applied techniques allow for an interesting distance to exist between the artist’s actions and the final result. She is drawn to the ragged details that can emerge while other aspects and marks unintentionally disappear. The variances are not mistakes, but individualities that are to be embraced. So, while Rødseth works through repetition, each print in a cycle is granted a life of its own.
The artist often starts by creating a minimalist situation: perhaps the wallpapered corner of a sparse room, or an empty stage with a patterned curtain for a background. Into these mysterious scenes Rødseth places a character, or characters. The figures themselves are taken from her own photographs, or found images, and they are often reused and re-arranged through several pieces. This reiteration adds to the sense that they are actors, devices to be manipulated. Often faceless, Rødseth has described her figures as strangers you might catch a glimpse of across a room, or passing by on a busy street. They can be mundane, oblivious, or deranged. Some are passive and opaque, while others are quietly menacing. Some are not even human.
In the past, Rødseth might include several print techniques onto a single sheet of paper. In these new works she has started to combine elements that are printed separately. For example, a photopolymer print of a figure on rice paper might be placed and sewn onto a woodcut print. In this way, print become collage, and the traces of the thread only increases a figure’s sense of vulnerability and impermanence.
To quote the artist: “We are all so fragile, and dependent on everyone around us acting well. I think the use of rice paper can be related to this, and how we are gently sewn into our lives. We are stuck onto the backdrop, but are easily torn. A cliché, but it resonates with my inner logic of the work.” The titles for the various series expand on this notion: Strollers. Clavers. Flaneurs. Haters.
Here, then, is a glimpse of the modern world in all of its contradictions: familiar faces that we know nothing about, crowds that repel and isolate us, and rooms that leave us out in the cold.