Brace, Bracket, Dash
December 2023 - January 2024

Sara Knowland
Marie Raffn

Choose your own adventure in Brace, Bracket, Dash. An exhibition by Sara Knowland and Marie Raffn.

Most exhibition texts tell you what the curator has decided you should know. This text is about YOU! It looks long at first glance, but you don't have to read it from start to finish. Start with point 1 and continue until you have to make a choice for the first time. Then continue from the point you've chosen and see what happens. You can always stop.

  1. Like the night owl she is, Sara Knowland moves pigments over canvas in her London studio while others move in their sleep. Marie Raffn is a Danish artist working with sculpture in an expanded field, often with an almost steganographic starting point. Continue to point 9 to read about a late night in a studio. If you instead want to know what steganography means, continue to point 6.

  2. Marie Raffn is a Danish artist based in Copenhagen. Go to point 14 to read about a central reference in Raffn's work. If you want to read about Raffn's work in this exhibition first, go to point 12.

  3. A transitive verb is a verb that relates to an object. In other words, an action that depends on a thing. For example, you always lay an object; you don't just lay. In 2011, art historian and critic David Joselit wrote the text "Painting Beside Itself," introducing the concept of transitive painting to describe painting practices where the relationship between painting, exhibition situation, and social interaction is interdependent. A painting is an object connected to an action and is thus transitive. To read about an example of this, go to point 5. If you want to read about something entirely different, go to point 10.

  4. Sara Knowland is a British artist based in London. To read about Knowland's work Medium Size, go to point 7. If you want to read about Marie Raffn first, read point 2.

  5. Artist Jutta Koether and her exhibition Lux Interior (in 2009 at Reena Spaulings) is described as an example of transitive painting. A painting is staged through its installation, lighting, and a series of performances. In the performances, Koether pretends to lecture on her painting practice, interrupted by clumsy choreography, where she stomps around the gallery, messes with the light, loses her script, and eventually starts singing the lyrics of a punk song. Sara Knowland quotes Koether's performance in the work Red Painting, where Knowland has painted Koether in the background in a red dress. In a blurred foreground, the same figure is seen, which has run closer to the surface of the canvas, where it dissolves into rough brushstrokes. To read about the notation of choreography, go to point 10. Go to point 3 instead if you need the definition of the word transitive.

  6. Steganography means code writing and refers to hiding or embedding secret information in a non-suspect carrier, such as text, an image, or an audio file, without being obvious to unauthorized persons. Continue to point 8 to understand why this word is used in relation to Marie Raffn's sculptures. If you want to read more about Marie Raffn first, go to point 2.

  7. In Lanzarote, Sara Knowland repeatedly passed a tree that reminded her of what is at stake in many of her paintings: the performance of gender. The tree's heavy, elongated pods and the red flowers with fringed edges struck Knowland as an overtly binary motif, which she uses in the work Medium Size to visualize normative gender expressions. To read about another work by Knowland, jump to point 11. If you want to read about visual ways of noting body movements, go to point 10.

  8. Often, Marie Raffn's works stem from her deep interest in translation and language experiments, which, in her practice, are a methodical driving force: her process is like code-breaking, where she cracks a specific sign system by detaching the signs, transforming them, and using the new signs to create new meanings. These new meanings arise in the form of sculptures. An example of this can be read about in point 12. If you instead want to read about a trip to Lanzarote, jump to point 7.

  1. Sara Knowland has decided to stay in her studio overnight. She is waiting for a shipping crate for her paintings, which will be delivered early the next morning and then, a few hours later, picked up and shipped to Denmark. A stressful situation. She has not visited Tørreloft but learned from pictures that the walls are clad with tiles. "When I make work, there are those kinds of interlinking moments that happen, and one moment feeds another, and the formation of meaning becomes labyrinthine," she says in a voice message to the author of this text. Continue to point 11 to read about the connection between Tørreloft's walls and the painting Possession. If you want to read about other labyrinthine formations of meaning, go to point 12.

  2. Benesh Movement Notation is a visual and symbolic system that represents various body parts and their movements and can be used to note or document movements. The notation is typically written on five-line staves, similar to musical notes, where each line represents a part of the body (head, shoulders, waist, knees, and feet). Different symbols are used to represent specific movements. For example, arrows can indicate the direction of a movement, while lines and curves can represent a body part's movement path. Compared to the more widespread dance notation language Labanotation, Benesh is intuitively easier for many to decipher, as it draws on musical notation systems and uses symbols that easily translate to the body's limbs. To read about Marie Raffn's work with signs and movement, go to point 16. To read about a choreography illustrating hysteria, continue to point 11.

  3. The painting Possession consists of two canvases; a kind of diptych. The composition in the two paintings is created from the idea of a hand-heart. The starting point for the motifs are two stills from the film Possession by Andrzej Żuławski, where the character Anna loses control and in a violent choreography throws herself against the cold, tile-covered walls in an empty corridor of Berlin's underground. Sara Knowland is interested in representations of performed gender and is fascinated by how the film character Anna visualizes misogynistic ideas about the female hysteric. To read more about the visualization of choreography, continue to point 10. If you instead want to find out what a hand-heart is, continue to point 13.

  4. The work Untitled (VEAAVI) consists of fragments that, in their visual language, draw on existing dance notation languages, which Raffn has reinterpreted and shaped anew. The installation in Brace, Bracket, Dash is, therefore, in addition to being a sculpture in its own right, also translatable into a way of moving in space. Furthermore, another layer of meaning is revealed when the installation, seen from a specific angle, makes the steel units form the letter sequence VEAAVI. To read about systems for potential literature, go to point 14. If you want to read about intentionally clumsy choreography in a performance, read point 5.

  5. A hand-heart is formed by two people each shaping half a heart with their hands and together completing a heart shape. To read more about Sara Knowland, go to point 4. To read about other abstract forms, go to point 12.

  6. The French literary group Oulipo, or "Ouvroir de littérature potentielle" (Workshop for Potential Literature) which worked experimentally and playfully with language based on constructed systems, is a fundamental reference for Marie Raffn. If you want to read about a grammatical concept applied to painting, continue to point 3. If you want to read about translation between signs and movement, go to point 12.

  7. Eau Pernice is a Danish artist who writes and a writer, who makes art. She is based in Hellerup. You are reading this only if you have defied the authority of the text and let your eyes move freely. Respect.

  8. Marie Raffn has created her own sculptural graphic score based on existing dance notation languages. In a previous work, she collaborated with dancers who translated a spatial installation of Raffn's sculptural signs into bodily movements. Marie Raffn's notation language draws, among other things, on Benesh Movement Notation and Labanotation. Jump to point 10 for a deeper understanding of Raffn's frame of reference. If you instead want to delve deeper into this labyrinthine text, go to point 9.          
- Eau Pernice  

Kindly supported by Københavns Kommune
Photos: Brian Kure
Design: Wilfred Wagner