Therese Frisk: Take Notice

06 – 22 September 2019
Opening reception: September 6 at 19.00


The rooms are empty and the artwork can exclusively be experienced through headphones. In this sound installation, I ask you to relax and follow the instructions, you will be a participant and perform the piece. Don’t worry – you will be in a safe space. A voice brings you through specific details, a meditative focus, your own body, imaginations and soundscapes.– Therese Frisk

Therese Frisk’s practice brings into focus the diverse landscapes of sensorial experience, specifically through sound. Through acts of listening to vibration, sounds, and echoes, as well as everyday sounds found in her immediate environment, Frisk pays homage to the small moments of attention that combine into a full experience of the world that surrounds us. Her recent work has increasingly dealt with sound, listening, text, and translation, treating conversations and other types of exchange as material for her practice. She builds relations, both actual and virtual, that seek to connect differing perspectives across various forms of experience.

The new work Take Notice by Therese Frisk exhibited at Babel visningsrom for kunst is a site-specific audio guide that brings the listener through the gallery space.

With a BFA from the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art (2015) and a MFA from the Oslo Academy of Fine Art (2017), Therese Frisk now lives and works in Gothenburg, Sweden. The first version upon which Take Notice is based was featured in The World’s Last Exhibition at Lundtoftegade in Copenhagen, Denmark this year. Take Notice is Frisk’s first solo exhibition.



Interview with Therese Frisk
by Agnieszka Foltyn


A choreography of sound and bodies in motion, together but alone, Therese Frisk’s newest work Take Notice reimagines the role of the viewer as an active force in the creation and realization of an art work. The audio guide is an experience, one which immerses the viewer into a sensory landscape of intimate moments of focus. Listening is central. Trust is also. It is a negotiation of control and agency, a translation of underlying structures of power driven by the voice in the audio guide and enacted according to the desire and interpretation of the audience. In it, the viewer turned participant is instructed to fulfill a series of movements and imaginations, carrying the weight of sensory experiences through guided imaginations inside and outside of the gallery space. You are alone but there are other bodies with you, each moving and imagining according to the rhythm of their own experience. They see the space in new ways: for what it is but also for what it could be.

Translation is a central theme in Frisk’s practice. “It’s a way to get to know your own practice through somebody else’s perspective”, states Frisk. Sound has made its way into her artistic practice relatively recently, though it has long been a central part of her life. Having completed her Bachelor of fine art at the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art in 2015, she spent much of her time in the city active in the local music scene, within jazz in particular. This has informed her desire to work with sound and translation as concept in her recent works. She states, “Mainly I have focused on the sensitivity of listening to sounds and translated that into music by working with professional musicians and singers”. She underlines that she has no professional training in any musical instrument nor can she sing. The process of translation forms a methodology of bringing this unknown into the articulation of an art practice. Through recordings, translation programs, and musicians, Frisk works with both mechanical and human processes of translation and interpretation. Each creates a new articulation, a means of understanding and conveying sound in a new manner. She speaks of bridging worlds, making tenuous connections that explore the relationship between concept and aesthetics in sensorial ways.

What is striking about Frisk’s work is this aesthetic language of minimalism. Perhaps not minimalism as a formal doctrine, but more a full emptiness. The entire piece exists within a virtual connection between sound and experience, the technical mechanisms of the headphone set and media player betraying its connection to the physical realm of the art work. The bodies then move, act, and feel in a predetermined way in front of the large windows of the gallery, in translations of their own choosing. Each audience member is immersed in a world of their own, and yet, this is precisely what is on display to the outside. It is a choreography of exchange, between the artist and the audience, the audience and the space, and the artist and the space. It holds a connection to Babel, one that must have stemmed from the experience of actually having been there. It does not seek to impose something onto the space but instead focuses on the experience of being within it. It asks the audience to place their trust in the artist to guide them through an experience of a space in new, imagined, and perhaps unexpected ways.

In essence, this piece is an invitation – to participate in acts of intimacy, trust, and what Frisk terms ‘self-experience.’ She aims to create an “atmosphere through listening, [in which] the process of listening is not only focused on the result of what music or everyday sound is, it is also the curiosity of what it came from and how it came about.” To Frisk, the experience of listening is closely tied to processes of translation through layering, interpretation, people, and mechanical programs. “Especially when recording sound – it is never exactly what you hear by ear.” She adds, “The ear is selective. The recorder takes in everything.” Her thesis work at the Oslo Academy of the Arts in 2017, As Silent as Possible, was ‘a composition of silence.’ In it, Frisk presented recorded small sounds in her home environment that for her embodied silence. These were translated into notes through a note-taking program, the digital composition then sung by professional singers. The piece was showcased through two speakers mounted high on the walls, disappearing into the architecture of the gallery space. There is a clear reduction of ‘things’ in her recent work. The mechanics of her practice are always visible – though highly selective. Frisk keeps only the essential, resisting the desire to bring more things into a space, thereby bringing into focus what is already there. At Babel, the mechanics are so reduced that they are almost invisible. The work lives instead in the ephemeral and inaccessible: the actions and individual experiences of the audience. The actions belong solely to those experiencing them at the time of their experience, no matter whether they are communicated later or filmed or watched from the outside. In this way, Frisk will never quite access the perspective of the other she is looking for, but can see it manifest in the space, another layer in the process of translation. The narrative script remains as a trace of something that was, a document to the existence of an art work.

What Frisk builds are opportunities to appreciate the everyday, taking the time to listen, to pay attention. Full of feeling, or perhaps feelings, Frisk’s interest in sound is not romantic. She is an observer of sounds, carefully sculpting a narrative of in-betweens: the actual parameters of the gallery and the imagined spaces of the narrative; the instruction of actions and the freedom to perform them to any degree of willingness or possibility of context. Through the audio guide, she hopes the audience will feel a relation to the space of Babel, while going in and out of other spaces as well.