OLIVIA TURNER

By LOUISE LE MEUR RASMUSSEN

"I've always used art as an escape, a way to dive into something while being alone"

 ©Louise Le Meur Rasmussen

©Louise Le Meur Rasmussen

Tell me about yourself.

My name is Olivia, I'm 19 years old. I've lived in Copenhagen my whole life, and was enrolled in an art school until 9th grade. After graduating high school, I started a preparatory art school at Krabbesholm Højskole, studying literature and fine arts.

What is your relationship to art? What does it mean to you? 

I've always used art as an escape, a way to dive into something while being alone. Literature has always been my chosen medium to express myself, because it's an extremely sensitive and explicit way of exposing oneself. After having been at the preparatory art school, I've started to explore art, and the possibilities of conveying literature through art installations. Making art is about exploring, and expanding one’s perception, and their perspective upon art. Crossing boundaries, and redefining art as a medium.

What is your creative process like? 

I'm an over-thinker. I always have a thousand ideas, and I've got a tendency to overthinking every single one of them before starting the actual piece. Meaning, I've got hundreds of unfinished projects. But I always write a piece either before, or after working on an idea, needing to put it in a literary context. This helps my creative process by seeing which prospects the actual piece of art has in relation to literature. 

How have you become interested in making collages? Why is it a good media to express yourself? 

My first experience in making collages was in grad school. We'd had a collage workshop, in which I found great pleasure, and a way to relax by manually cutting, and gluing. This has later developed and become something I do with Photoshop. I enjoy the possibilities of creating new ways of understanding and seeing images in new contexts. In some of my collages there might be over 500 layers of images but only 50 visible to the eye. Collages have a depth and perseverance that in my opinion many other art forms don't have. Furthermore it gives me the possibility to hide and choose what I want to expose of myself to the viewer, but still allowing myself to hide in the layers. 

What role does being a women play in your art, and way of seeing life? 

Most art is seen through the male gaze. Being a female artist, and especially one of color means that I have the possibility of "unexotifying" and desexualizing the female body. Women in art are usually portrayed as objects. But I enjoy seeing women through the male gaze and then challenging it by either provoking or recreating an image, or specific perception . 

What are your inspirations?

I'm very inspired by Pop culture. Music, cinema and contemporary art are all outlets that I've taken advantage of. There is a new, and large stream of Danish literature that challenges the traditional literary platform. Caspar Eric, a young danish writer uses Instagram and internet logos in his poetry, opening up a completely new means of expressing oneself. This is a great inspiration for me. It has inspired me to explore new ways of expressing myself.

You have some specific themes in your work, you focus a lot on gender, feminism and your AfroAmerican identity, how does having grown up in a conservative, and homogenous part of Denmark influenced your work? 

I've always stood out, my father being Jamaican and my mother Danish has made me have a very split relationship to the two cultures. I've grown up in Denmark, following Danish traditions.  My father has never really exposed me nor my siblings to Jamaican culture, nor African American one. We've watched movies, and visited my family in New York. But as I've grown older, I've become interested in this part of myself. I've wanted to understand it better, meaning I've had to understand my father’s heritage, and culture better. This is very obvious in my art, being very inspired by provoking and atypical African American women such as Grace Jones, who bent gender norms, Jamaican medicine women Nanny of the Maroons and The White Witch of Rosehall. This interest has been sparked by growing up in a very homogenous part of Denmark, where everyone looks the same and acts the same. Not having one's own opinion, and forming one’s own perception of the world, has always been a frustration to me. I believe that to understand the world, and shape one’s own views, you first need to know yourself. 

@oliviaemilie

 

All photos of the artist's work are her courtesy.