During the month of September the Oxygen Art Centre is hosting German artist Inken Hemsen. Her artistic practice is concerned with a phenomenological sense of place, in this case Nelson and the surrounding environment.
Hemsen calls the project she is working on during her residency Sense Tracks Elements, which can be read quite literally as an engagement with the senses, tracks or traces of place and the elements that constellate to form the environment at a particular moment in time.
“My observations are focused on sense apperceptions, like noises and silence, air-flows and smell in the air, the atmosphere, encounters of animals and humans, animal movements, traces on the ground, plant movement patterns caused by the wind and creatures passing by, and the occurrence of waters,” Hemsen says of her process.
Hemsen’s residency takes her out of the Oxygen studio and into nature; Kokanee Glacier, Sinixt pit houses, Slocan pools and so forth to gather the smell, sound, taste, and touch of a place and then bringing what Hemsen calls “reflections” back into the studio, where she will continue her creative process in the making of subjective cartographies.
As one might imagine, Hemsen gathers material, makes notes and takes photographs as she moves about in an environment. Yet, the materials she uses in creating her installations are unexpected and might include wire, text and mark as various ways to describe her experience.
In past projects, Hemsen has also worked with a photographic media in the creation of photograms and light boxes. Yet as much as she is in dialogue with the external environment it is the work of an inward journey that most interests the artist, thus we are witness to the making of metaphor under the guise of map making.
Hemsen’s past projects have included 18th Century Landscape Gardens in England and Ireland, beaches of the Elbe River, Alster Lake and parks in Hamburg and Realm Dessau-Wörlitz Garden in Germany among others.
Hemsen will share her process and practice in an open house on Friday, September 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. that includes an artist talk at 8 p.m., at the Oxygen Art Centre located at 320 Vernon Street (alley entrance). The artist will also open her studio to the public on Saturday, September 28 from 1 to 5 p.m. for “tea time” and all are welcome to pop in for a visit. Both openings are part of the Canada-wide Culture Days activities.