“Am I too loud?” – the jury’s special prize, 2013

Anne Knutsen (*1961)
Norway
Am I too loud?
Video
2012
Kunstnerens eje / Collection of the artist

The jury awards the Norwegian artist Anne Knutsen a Special Prize, with the following citation:
Norwegian video artist Anne Knutsen (b. 1961 in Haugesund) has made a portrait film which, along with its title, ‘Am I Too Loud?’, carries a double-meaning.
The film is entirely silent, but nevertheless manages to frame the question: do I make too much noise? Or, more accurately, this is the implicit question that the film’s subject – a small, blonde-haired girl – might herself think to ask over the film’s running time of a little over four minutes, as she is steadily dusted over with a white powder, and undergoes the situation in which she’s found herself.
The film shows the girl en face, while the powder sprinkles down over her head, gradually transforming her. White is the colour of purity and innocence. It signifies something untouched – just as the child is the symbol of innocence within Western culture. As such, the pure child and the white particles slowly covering her hair are not each other’s opposing forces, but things that, in concert, will transform the girl into the small, charmed pixie of a fairy tale.
As this suggests, there is a fragile poetry to Anne Knutsen’s child portrait, which draws on the romantic myths of childhood’s innocent apprehension and openness of spirit, discovered here in the child’s pretty face swathed in white. A small miracle takes place, which appeals to the girl’s sense of wonder.

At the same time though, this portrait films exhibits something different: a kind of assault. As the title suggests, the little girl has been told to sit still while the white powder sprinkles over her. This transformation doesn’t free the small girl, but rather disciplines her. She hasn’t been granted permission to brush or blow the white powder away, as it lightens her little by little – in that sense, this illumination is actually something closer to a ‘human eclipse’, because it bears witness to adult power over the child. And, from an artistic perspective: the artist’s power over the subject, a relationship which Anne Knutsen’s portrait film uncovers through the almost imperceptible twitching we see at the girl’s mouth, and through the movement of her large, questioning eyes, which don’t entirely grasp what’s going on. It’s not always easy to understand adult actions – and the art in this instance is created with the adult’s awareness. The portrait becomes a kind of Fall of Man, even though it appears to signal exactly the opposite.
For its simple yet sophisticated blend of poetry and wonder, childlike innocence and intricate artistic consciousness, Anne Knutsen’s ‘Am I too Loud?’ receives the Jury’s Special Prize.

Henrik Wivel, art critic

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