Hanne Nielsen and Birgit Johnsen: Particles

Ormston House is proud to present Particlesthe first exhibition of internationally renowned Danish video artists Hanne Nielsen AND Birgit Johnson in Ireland. For more than three decades, Hanne Nielsen and Birgit Johnsen have focused on the powerful impact of media images on society. The artists say: “We want to create a framework for reflection on the current global, critical conditions and ethical, existential choices we face today. We often appear alone in our works; we believe that the performative combines the personal with the political.

In their new two-channel video installation, the artists appear as bird figures brought from outer space. Together they travel through scenes inspired by the works of Tarkovsky – an abandoned amusement park, a dilapidated industrial estate, an overgrown castle ruin, a rocky landscape, burning fields. They are female clones of the plague doctor and future scientist, equipped with all sorts of measuring instruments. Drones are deployed to provide the vertical perspective they need to travel through time and space, and to develop machine vision, fly in sudden movements, observe, search, monitor, and vanish into the sky.

Intersecting with television and online material, the installation presents a series of different “reflection rooms” where fragments of historical and recent events are intertwined with personal and mythical interpretations via the plague doctor’s crystal ball. While particles in the form of dirt, smoke or fog can refer to climate change, pollution, poverty, war and even the lack of transparency of anti-democratic processes, particles in the sense of aeolian dust are also a condition of existence. A doctor and a scientist mediate seemingly chaotic conditions and continue their journey to find signs of life and measure the state of our planet.

About artists

Hanne Nielsen (born 1959) and Birgit Johnsen (born 1958) enjoy an international reputation for artistic excellence and are the recipients of numerous awards, including the new Carlsberg Foundation Art Award, the Carl Nielsen and Anne Marie Carl-Nielsen Award and the prestigious Eckersberg Medal . Their exploratory and experimental approach to video has given them pioneering status in the Danish art scene.

The artists’ work ranges from modest single screens to large-scale film productions, studio recordings and documentary explorations presented in immersive installations. Nielsen and Johnsen have been collaborating since 1993 and have exhibited frequently in Denmark and abroad, as well as attending film festivals around the world. They portrayed the world we live in with visual poetry, humor, and a persistent commitment to feminist political issues. In 2021, they received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Danish Arts Council.