Marte Johnslien “The Materiality of White”, Talk
The Materiality of White
In this talk, artist/associate professor Marte Johnslien (KhiO) and art historian Ingrid Halland (UiB/AHO) will introduce their research project The Materiality of White which explores how the Norwegian innovation Titanium Dioxide has changed surfaces in art, architecture and design—making the world whiter, brighter and cleaner looking.
The chemical compound titanium dioxide (TiO2) circulates extensively through our material, biological, and economic systems, most of the time completely unnoticeable. It was originally discovered and patented as a white pigment by Norwegian chemists Peder Farup and Gustav Jebsen, and production for the global market began in the mine Titania AS in Sokndal, Norway, and in the factory Kronos Titan AS in Fredrikstad, Norway, in 1916.
Throughout the 20th Century, the material was increasingly used in combination with other colours (as coating for concrete, glazing for ceramics, and additive in plastic) thereby changing the aesthetics of surfaces in art, architecture, and design—its extreme covering ability made surfaces smoother, brighter, and more opaque. After a hundred years of mining, the extraction of TiO2 has left an irreversible change in the local landscape: The environmental trace of mining modernism consists of a vast cut through the surface of the earth and a grey artificial desert of mining waste.
In this talk, Marte Johnslien and Ingrid Halland will 1) introduce their research project by giving a brief introduction to the history of TiO2, and 2) share experiences about their research collaboration (artistic research and research in the humanities).
About the presenters
Marte Johnslien is a visual artist and Associate Professor at The Oslo National Academy of the Arts. She works with sculpture, installation art and artist’s books, and she defended her PhD thesis in 2020. Johnslien’s work is included in the collections of the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter and Lillehammer Art Museum.
Ingrid Halland is an architectural historian and art critic. She is Associate Professor at The University of Bergen and Associate Professor II at The Oslo School of Architecture and Design where she teaches at the PhD Programme. The book Ung Uro: Unsettling Climates in Nordic Art, Architecture & Design (Cappelen Damm Akademisk) was published in Spring 2021.