Nikoline Liv Andersen

Born 1979, Copenhagen, Denmark

There are few people who can strike up such diabolical tones with titles of works and exhibitions as can Nikoline Liv Andersen. Let me mention the projects entitled “Slowly Seeping Through My Hands”, “The Dance of the Deaf and Dumb Eye”, “Only Angels Have Wings”, “The Queen of No Man’s Land” and “Dark Matter”.

Standing face-to-face with Nikoline, it is hard to avoid noticing the contrast between her youth and genuine sweetness and the ambiguous content of her work. But there is nothing superficial or shallow going on here. Not for a second do we doubt the intensity and earnestness in her works. She has a sincere urge to leave her mark on our consciousness.

She was educated at the Danish Design School, majoring in clothing design in 2006. Instead of following a commercial trajectory, Andersen has chosen to work artistically with experimental and unique pieces of clothing, textiles and installations. Her works are situated in the cross field between design, crafts and art. Besides working with her own projects, she has been couture designer for the Italian fashion house Fendi from 2015-2020.

Nikoline Liv Andersen devotes herself in an uncompromising, expressive and experimental way when it comes to getting her expressions across. Most of her work is executed by hand. Time and toil are two matters that do not appear to be negotiable. She builds up textiles by adding layer after layer of fabric, thread, yarn, and sometimes even plastic or nails become a part of the finished work. She decorates the surfaces, she stitches, embroiders, weaves and knits, and often she paints onto the textiles. She initiates a process involving the decomposition and dissolution of the work. She unstitches and tears open, adds substance and starts stitching again – she constructs and deconstructs again and again almost in an incantatory manner. New ideas and techniques crop up in the course of the work, which for Andersen functions as a meditative process. Often the result takes on depth and manipulates our vision. On closer looks it turns out to be “just made of fabric and threads”.

Andersen’s artistic works are meant to express the sensation of life’s fragility. She is heavily influenced by nature, by growth and death. For some years now, she had let her works become constituent parts of three-dimensional sculptural installations expressing an ambiguity that oscillates between the dramatically staged, the theatrical and the sometimes repulsive, but also the childlike, the beautiful and a romanticism that can even appear tragic at times. Framed, time consuming textile surfaces detached from any connection to the human body have become the latest challenge, together with written words as in poems.

Nikoline Liv Andersen seeks to relocate the limits of our understanding of textiles and clothing and to challenge the audience when it comes to our perception of the world around us. She manages to convey to her viewers a mixture of emotions that run from the gamut from the exclusive and feminine through the humorous to the gruesome and frightening.

Kirsten Toftegaard, Curator and Keeper, Designmuseum Danmark, 2020.