The Glorified Story: Anne Louise Blicher in the StudioJune 23, 2016
“When people think of America or Denmark or any country, they imagine our monuments and what we are proud to show,” says Danish artist and Malmö exchange resident Anne Louise Blicher. “What is hidden in their shadows?”
During her residency, Anne Louise explored this questions, creating two banners nearly ten feet long for her series SHADOWLIGHT: The Glorified Story. In the Etching Studio, Anne Louise cut out cardboard plates in the shape of iconic monuments and ran them through the press, printing directly onto the silk fabric. On the banner titled “Woman and Liberty,” the Liberty Bell and the Lincoln Memorial create a cluttered pile at the feet of the Statue of Liberty, as if they were leaves falling from a tree. In a second banner featuring Danish monuments titled “Woman and Mermaid,” the Liberty Memorial Monument and The Equestrian Statue of Absalon lay beside a statue of Hans Christian Andersen’s beloved fairy tale heroine The Little Mermaid.
But while the silhouettes of such monuments are instantly recognizable to any American or Dane, the faces of the Statue of Liberty and The Little Mermaid subvert expectations. Anne Louise replaced their faces with detailed prints of homeless women. These interpretations are based on the photos found in Udstødt (Outcast), a book documenting the homeless citizens of Odense by Danish photographer Marianne Grøndahl. Through her black and white photographs, Grøndahl was able to capture the humanity in her subjects; by using these photos as her inspiration, Anne Louise is able to infuse the national with the personal.
“Our history books and our monuments show one kind of reality, one official story, but there are so many stories that go untold,” says Anne Louise.
What’s more, Anne Louise outlines each of her monuments with glow-in-the-dark ink. With the lights turned off, only their glowing green silhouette are visible, the faces of the homeless women disappearing altogether. In light, the faces reappear, estranging what was previously familiar and complicating viewers’ relationships with shared national histories. Through such dramatic changes in the conditions for seeing her works, Anne Louise symbolically sheds light on the people and the history we try to hide and brings our hidden stories out of the darkness.
Across her practice, Anne Louise works between opposing spaces, thoughts, and materials, teasing out these contradictions for the viewer. In SHADOWLIGHT: The Glorified Story, this tension is expressed in the interplay between the silhouettes and the portraits, between the abstract, collective identity of the nation and the particular identity of the marginalized individual. She writes in her artist’s statement, “I’m fascinated by the contrast between the visible and the hidden. I strive for new ways of seeing reality. I’m reflecting on what we see and how we see.”
Once Anne Louise returns to Denmark, she hopes to create more of these banners and display them outdoors in public spaces, where the fabric catching in the wind will make the work feel especially alive. She wants all kinds of people to see the faces of those living in the shadows. And once the light hits Anne Louise’s banners, the outsiders of a nation become monumental.
Anne Louise Blicher is an artist living and working in Denmark. She studied painting at Florence Academy of Art and printmaking at The Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm. You can find more of Anne Louise’s work on her website alblicher.net and see more images from her residency on our Flickr.