Bente Stokke is one of the Norwegian artists who from the mid-1980s on expanded the concept of art by using unconventional materials and techniques in her works. She is known for using ash, a material that is notoriously difficult to handle. Stokke constructs variously sized ash sculptures and installations that are both groundbreaking and impressive. She also uses traditional techniques such as drawing, but even here she ploughs new ground, as evinced by Southern Cross.
This is an exceptionally large drawing that sprawls across a paper almost nine square metres in size, suggesting that it was not created at the drawing board. The drawing is entirely covered with dark-grey graphite. As a finished piece of art, it stands up against a wall; so positioned, however, the entire drawing is not accessible to us. Rather, the paper is rolled together on each side like an oversized scroll of parchment, with the rolls also serving as supporting pillars. Southern Cross is thus both a sculpture and a drawing. What is it, then, that this parchment scroll wants to reveal to us? Upon closer inspection, the drawing is not entirely black: the dense, shiny surface reflects the lighting, and scratched-up areas gradully come into view. The lines were drawn with graphite and create a circular, spherical pattern.
In Southern Cross, which refers to an asterism that is visible in the southern sky, Stokke depicts a gateway into the cosmos itself. We are drawn into a poetic word, illuminated by a configuration of stars that have affected human life for millennia.
Text: Randi Godø
From "Highlights. Art from 1945 to the Present", Nasjonalmuseet 2016, ISBN 978-82-8154-116-0