Hans Hamid Rasmussen
The work that is presented has the title Appareil. The French psychoanalyst Michele Montrelay uses varieties of the French word appareil to conceptualise male sexuality. Montrelay’s theories on masculinity or, more precisely, male sexuality, relate to issues of foreignness, which to me is the child who is surrounded by an unknown language, socially and geographically, and which involuntarily experiences and exists in what resembles a pre-linguistic state. The grasp of language is temporarily lost from sight. Murat Aydemir refers to Paul Smith’s essay Vas, in which Smith defines four interpretations of Montrelay’s use of appareil.¹
Originally, I wanted to elaborate on a work that explored handmade textiles that are visually influenced and created in interaction with a mariner culture. despite changes in the course of the project, the starting point has nevertheless left thematic and visual traces. It is the refugee arriving in the harbour by boat that touches me, that I am familiar with. The child experiences that language is deformed, nuances are lost or become awkward, exaggerated and humorous, the attempt to master a new language is experienced as alienating, since something is lost while something else is gained. The first language, or languages, blends into a temporal situation in the form of an echo. Language is lost from sight – into an abyss – reestablishing itself as a new language.
Early in the process, I decided to develop a backdrop/curtains held up by shelves/racks. This alludes to the sexuality of ports, the crocheting, knitting and embroidering prostitutes waiting for their customers, the red light that is turned out, the curtain that is drawn or opened.
I imagine that the encounter with a new language can be experienced as humiliating. The rhetoric of the public authority is aimed to convey a repulsion against the foreign refugee/migrant. The experience of humiliation is established in the encounter with a foreign language, the language that is to be established and articulated in one’s own body. The language is perceived as something concrete, an object that can seem threatening and painful. I imagine that the experience of desire could be felt and articulated on the basis of new and different terms than if they had not been put to the test. That in itself does not necessarily have to be a negative experience, even if it is experienced as uncertain.
Over time, a context is established over a social, geographic and linguistic abyss. The act of embroidering is not entirely unrelated; the needle passes through the fabric, is felt by the hand, appears again – on the reverse side – and on the side that is visible.
If we follow Montrelay’s ideas on male sexuality, the sense of loss or lack in relation to the new language can be experienced as an unreliable ability to »prepare, set sail«. The reaction can be expressed in the form of stress, aggression and a feeling of alienation to one’s own body.
In order to stabilise the relationship to language as a concrete possibility, I have used various actions to find a method, which is expressed in the installation as a series of embroideries with the title Kasbah vandre og tenke, brodere og tegne (Kasbah wandering and thinking, embroidering and drawing). The embroideries are part of the installation and were created in connection with a journey to the place where I was born, in Algeria.
The outlook for refugees who arrive today via Scandinavian ports is not that good, despite the relatively sound social conditions. The many migrants who are given or find work in cleaning, building or the service sector are underpaid and exploited by private and public capital. And since I came to Scandinavia in the 1970s and 80s, populist politicians have won more votes by systematically expressing xenophobic opinions. Politicians are misleading voters with policies that will never be implemented since what actually happens is that this discrimination and undermining of migrants erodes social and political rights that promote economic profits, and indirectly undoes the rights we achieved so far.
I experienced working with the textile medium as an in-between state, not between or in relation to one or more objective places, but as being in between. The reverse side of the embroidery represents the verbal missunderstandings of otherness that reveal to the viewer the contradictions and diversity of the work. The difference between the front and reverse sides can be interpreted as the skills and characteristics that govern embroidery.
Biography Born 1963 in Algeria, lives and works in Norway. Hans Hamid Rasmussen is a graduate of the Photo Academy, Bauhaus school, Stockholm, the Academy of Fine Art in Oslo, and during 2004 to 2007 he was a fellow researcher at Kunstakademiet, Trondheim. Group exhibitions include: Rackstad Museum, Sweden, 2011, and Trondheim Kunstmuseer, 2010 and the 3rd Guangzhou Triennial 2008. In 2010 his solo exhibition Komparative rum was held at Martin Asbæk Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Photo: Hendrik Zeitler