Life in the Things we Leave Behind


october 16 2021 – january 16 2022

In previous works, Jette Andersen has worked with childhood memories, coloring books, pictures and toys that she has reworked and revisited through the years. In Livet i tingen vi lämnar efter oss (Life in the Things We Leave Behind) she presents three new works with a common grounding in memories and memorabilia, a sense of place, recycling as a method and aging as a driving force. In her own words: “It is like when the generation before us passes away and we must take care of their remains. You ask yourself; what will my remains look like? Who am I when seen through my things? What is a life when seen through what we leave behind?”

For this exhibition, Andersen has cut up some of her old croquis of live models, turning them into collages. She has also made collages out of paper doll dresses she created when she was 10 years old. She retells how drawing the dresses and imagining the places and situations where the dresses could be worn was more engaging than actually playing with the dolls.

The third work is an installation made up of two large tabletops where Andersen carefully has assembled a series of objects made in all sorts of materials – glass, metal, wood, plastic, leather, paper, textile, and so on. The objects also vary in function: some are toys, some are tools, some are just fragments of something larger, like bones of an animal or crystals from a chandelier. The objects have been accumulating over time at her home, or as she refers to it “My place, my destiny, my security, but also my constraint.”

The objects have been sourced or collected in different ways through the years, but nothing new has been acquired for the project. When Andersen started these new works she decided she would only use what was already in her place. These objects that were waiting patiently to be rediscovered, recycled and put back into use, were thus arranged in two large compositions, suggesting a sort of archeology of bits and pieces.

In their seemingly inevitable status as debris, these objects can perhaps give clues of how we humans navigate the world, for they are not just evoking nostalgia for the past and bygone ways of crafting and living. On the contrary, it seems as if they are proposing a liberating rupture. When arranged as an artwork, these objects become something else; they invite a reflection about themselves, their history and the people connected to them. They are no longer signifiers because of their use or service. Instead we are asked to contemplate them in their beauty or ugliness, their presence and materiality. We are asked to imagine them as pieces of something larger, capable of generating hypotheses about a life.

The empty spaces between each object contribute to the construction of the whole, a whole that nonetheless is never complete. It appears that the border of the bases can barely contain the expansive nature of the objects. As if the fragments were a unit of measure with the single purpose to make us understand the monumental scale of human material production. As if all these fragments shout: Enlarge me! Complete me! Remember me! Reinvent me!

About the artist

Jette Andersen is an artist and architect born in Odense, Denmark.  She has lived in Luleå, Sweden, since 1976. She studied at the Kungliga Akademiska Arkitektskola in Copenhagen (1969-1975) and since then she has taken many classes in croquis, aquarelle, installation and sculpture with various materials in focus. Andersen has exhibited widely and consistently in northern Sweden, with exhibitions in Luleå Konsthall, Norrbotten Museum, Gallery Lindberg, Härnösand Konsthall, Piteå Konsthall, Skellefteå konsthall, Gallery Krysset Lofoten, Havremagasinet and Konstgille in Boden.

Photo: Hans Granqvist