Emilia   Sølvsten

Know Me by Your Name



Live (vibrating) sound sculpture 

My personal bedside table from IKEA, engraved text, stepper motors encoded with names 

This bedside table is the atsiaq (namesake) of the departed, embodying the sound of their name. In Greenland, the tradition of bestowing a deceased's name on a newborn links the departed with the mourners, as the name is considered a spiritual entity with potential personhood. Thus, the dead person's identity naturally inhabits the newborn. The name of my brother and father are inscribed into the sound of this work, reflecting my way of dealing with family trauma and different approaches to notions of afterlife in my practice. 

my father came from a place where mountains were made of sugar


Kunstnernes Efterårsudstilling 

Sculpture; sugar reliefs 

In the distance of one's heritage, fantasies arise about what is not represented in physical form. There is a need to fill in the gaps, replace the missing fragments, and create connections between them. This is where my first stories about my father's hometown, Maniitsoq in Greenland, emerged—in my childhood imagination of a place I had never visited but which was part of my history. I grew up with the Danish colonial name for Maniitsoq, Sukkertoppen, which early on made me imagine that my father came from a place where mountains were made of sugar. These illusions became a way to make the unfamiliar tangible. In this way, one could say that my close narrative about Greenland arose from the distance to, rather than contact with, the country. In the distance, the illusion of the 'authentic' emerges, realized through the outsider's observations and stories about the 'foreign'. My works for the Autumn Exhibition aim to visualize and concretize the complexity of the fusion between the 'missionary' and the 'Inuit,' which involves both separation and reunion of the compatible, and the incompatible.

I Came in Walking Backwards


W139 Hosts, Amsterdam 

Installation, performance reading and workshop

Hand carved sugar reliefs and sugar-coded sculpture made of styrofoam packaging  


**Workshop Description:**

Cut, Copy, and Paste

In a figurative sense, we use a 'cut, copy, and paste' method to understand the unknown and create a relationship with it. We take a sample of what we know and place it next to the unfamiliar; it becomes neither the unknown nor the known but a fusion of the two. This process gives rise to what I call 'the third imaginary,' inspired by Pia Arke's (1996) term 'the third place.' 'The third imaginary' exists in the meeting ground between two or more cultures, languages, countries, and traditions. For many of us, this meeting ground is indescribable or intangible, and for that reason, it often remains in our imagination. At the same time, we are the physical representation of these imaginaries, but how do they take shape or become visualized? How do they become language?

As part of the W139 Hosts program, I was hosting a workshop with a focus on some of the complexities of 'the third imaginary' and their inherent dualities, contrasts, and conflicts. The participants each invented poetic fable beings using Ursula K. Le Guin's writing exercises from "The Sound of Your Writing" (1998) as a guideline. Additionally, we collectively read parts from 'Image, Social Imaginary and Social Representation' by Angela Arruda and 'Goodbye, Little Egg, Goodbye' by Gabriela Wiener. At the end of the workshop, we shared our writings with each other.

Performance reading of “I Came in Walking Backwards”

3D print of neck-strecher, homemade resin, mother of pearl paint

Sugar-coded platform shoes 

Softened into Marble, Grew Warm


Fe26 Residency, Greece 

Performance, workshop and soap-sculpture for the visitor 

"Softened Into Marble, Grew Warm" is an artwork that reimagines marble—a symbol of power and wealth—as essential to women's daily labor in Pyrgos before electricity arrived in the late 19th century. Marble quarries like Agios Eleftherios have been central to the island's economy and history, traditionally narrated by and about men. Sølvsten's project highlights the overlooked contributions of women artisans and workers in Tino’s history.

I casted traditional Greek green soap, Arkadi, infused with rust-containing earth and stone powder from Agios Eleftherios, into the washing troughs. This soap, was originally used for washing clothes in the troughs and cleaning marble.

Workshop participants: Daphne Chatzilazarou, Christina Dara, Camille Cornillon, Paulina, Leonardos, Madelaine

I invited students from the School of Fine Art in Pyrgos and locals to collectively wash Plyatres, a traditional public laundry house. Local historian Mr. Vidos and former laundry house user Ms. Poppy shared stories about women's communal work. Inspired by Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ "Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969," this tribute celebrated women's labor and the architecture they used.

Finally, I cut the soap into pieces, distributing them for the locals to bring back home. The artwork challenges the permanence of traditional sculpture, creating a piece with a limited lifespan to reflect the transient nature of history. As the soap wears away, so do the stories of women's contributions, unless actively remembered and shared.

"Softened into Marble, Grew Warm" invites exploration of history beyond marble monuments, fostering communal engagement with local narratives and storytelling.

Life Vest for Motion Sickness



Live sculpture 

Repurposed massage mats

Until recently, I was paralyzed by touch anxiety regarding my relationship with Greenland, a fear of crossing boundaries towards what seems out of reach. This anxiety parallels the collective fear of touching the unknown, a key aspect of alienation and discrimination towards others. According to philosopher Mladen Dolar, real touch requires interaction between distinct entities, not just collisions. Historically, Danish colonization of Greenland was more of a clash than a touch, reflecting ongoing issues in Danish-Greenlandic relations. This dynamic complicates my personal dilemma, leaving me uncertain about my right to touch my heritage.

You are invited to a 20-minute motion sickness recovery session. This work, part of the 'Subjects of Intimate Transactions' project, explores the comfort and discomfort of touch using timeless, low-fi technology. In "Life Vest for Motion Sickness" audiences experience a part-human, part-machine interaction that introduces bodily exploration of boundaries between two human beings. This live sculpture of second-hand massage devices is an interface facilitating a non-direct tactile exchange, manoeuvring the fine line between care and suffocation reflecting the complexity of the  commonwealth between Denmark and Greenland on a very personal and intimate scale. 

To Whom Do the Luminous Eyes Belong?


BFA graduation work, Gallery Black Box, Oslo 

Sound sculpture 

Transparent hardware store silicone (UV-activated), styrofoam, plaster, and the sound of underwater glaciers edited to the tempo of a heartbeat.

At night, my headlights catch sight of you. You reveal yourself as a dancing tissue of luminous cells, reflecting their light back at me. As I approach, you crystallize, your surface becoming like wet ice, shimmering under the moonlight. When I touch you, I hear your heartbeat. You are unfamiliar to me, yet I eagerly await your arrival.

Choreographically, the work explores the presence of embodied sound and the dominance of staged light, changing the perception of the sculpture as you walk around it, moving closer or further away. The audience is encouraged to investigate the multiple facets and appearances that unfold through movement, presence, and patience.

Lorem est Maxi ︎︎︎

The Fear of the Scent of the Flower of the Cherry Tree


BFA graduation work, Gallery Seilduken, Oslo
Sound sculpture 

Metal box, infused smell of cherry blossom, sound/vibration of electric fence

Engraved wall-text:

At this moment, you experience a sense of presence, animated by something trembling, something alive—haunted by the conditioning of memory, brought to life, transformed, and transmitted in your encounter with the work.
A scientist conditioned a group of mice to fear the scent of cherry blossoms by giving them an electric shock every time they were exposed to the smell. After the treatment, the mice were put together to breed. The offspring of these mice showed clear signs of fear when exposed to the scent of cherry blossoms, even though they had never been exposed to the electric shock associated with the smell. The experiment demonstrated that not only the first generation but also future generations exhibited fear of this specific scent.
How many personal incidents do you carry with you that are not yours? I ask if my emotional and physical recollections of an experience truly belong to me. Perhaps they belong to the collective for which we are responsible but are not to blame for their unannounced intrusion.

Choreography option 1. or 2. 


Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo


Choreography option 1. or 2. is a continuation of PET(S) and mediates how external health services, preparations and apps shape our experience of care and intimacy. The growing tendency of society’s commodification of human desires extends the relationships between humans and non-humans and substitutes the human touch to a certain extent. With Choreography option 1. or 2 I investigate how this intersectionality produces emotiona attachments across and beyond our current notions of closeness and affection. The incorporated features of the massage objects in PET(S) reflect society’s systematic thinking and approach to body, health and healing. The features are here used as instructions for the choreography, reembodied by eight different performers as a way to reclaim self-stimulation of the enfleshed activity.

Lorem est Maxi ︎︎︎



Gallery Skylight, Oslo 

live performance installation

Repurposed massage devices coded with in silicone, video (loop), plexi box, amplifier, speakers

PET (S) is a choreographic installation work consisting of two sculptural pieces montaged together. of massage pillows; their respective sound played from 2 speakers and video. The massage pillowshave an incorporated timer that determines the time for each performance—every 14 min the workis switched on manually by the artist who stays in the exhibition during the entire showing period.The work’s demands for observation and care call into question the power relationship between the creator and the created, the domesticator and the domesticated.

Documentation: Anne Marte Før 

Lorem est Maxi ︎︎︎

Rhythms of Soft Aggression


Project space, P0, KHIO 

Performance installation 

Performer: Bobby Yushu Pui 

Plexiglass (variable measurements)

Sand, glue, styrofoam

Mirror, epoxy, plexiglass, styrofoam packaging

A hymn is tongued in gibberish by Bobby to the background tunes of singing dunes, accompanied by a mutated monstrous tongue.

"Rhythms of Soft Aggression" is a poetic meeting point between two expressions of belonging to a place. We find ourselves in a sculptural memory of the Moroccan desert landscape, which the artist visited in 2017. Here, the performer invites us into her sensuous and rhythmic sound universe in a hymn dedicated to her hometown, Hong Kong.

Documentation: Jacky Jaan-Yuan Kuo 

Lorem est Maxi ︎︎︎

3D animation of a timelabed tongue chair



Project space White cube, KHIO 

Live sound sculpture 

An ice sculpture made of gelatin transforms as it melts and trickles down onto the floor. It leaves remnants of its previous form on the side of the box and sticky residue on the ground. As it dries out over time, it emits an unpleasant odour that permeates the entire room.

Plexi box, metal stand, sound (loop), iced gelatine

Documentation: Jacky Jaan-Yuan Kuo



Reception Gallery, KHIO 

Video installation 

Project Real Life Player emerged during a residency in Nida, Lithuania, in 2019. The project consisted of 5 different role-plays created and performed unannounced in the Nida Dunes during the artist’s stay. The role-play was a framework for investigating spectatorship and live performance in public space. In addition, two of the role-plays were reenacted, documented, and installed as two separate video installations in Oslo.

Video projection (8 min, loop) on sand sculptures 

Documentation: Jacky Jaan-Yuan Kuo

Lorem est Maxi ︎︎︎

Wanna come over and have a look at my arm?


Seulduken, Oslo 

Video installation 

Two-channel video projection (3 min, loop) on metal sheet 

Wood chunk, laser engraved plexiglass (variable measurements)

Documentation: Jacky Jaan-Yuan Kuo

Project Real Life Player emerged during a residency in Nida, Lithuania, in 2019. The project consisted of 5 different role-plays created and performed unannounced in the Nida Dunes during the artist’s stay. The role-play was a framework for investigating spectatorship and live performance in public space. In addition, two of the role-plays were reenacted, documented, and installed as two separate video installations in Oslo.

A still Image Assembled by 6480 Frames


Kunsternes Paaskeudstilling 2020, Aarhus

16mm video work, b/w, no sound 

The anticipation is triggered, a still image expecting to be taken. Waiting for the moment to accelerate and the shutter to go off. There is no peak, only a constant moment of silence that never seems to reach its destination. Misinformation leads to misrecognition of the 16mm Bolex camera’s actual function. It leaves the participants with a somewhat romanticized idea of an obsolete technology that once was but is now no longer recognizable. A still image, assembled by 6,480 frames, becomes a moving image.

Vertical Outbreaks from a Narrative


Gallery Seilduken, Oslo 


Threaded rod, plexi plates

"Vertical Outbreaks from a Narrative" is the eruption of linear time, constructed by the logic of light, shade, and darkness. Photographs were taken simultaneously every day at the same spot for seven days. They were then developed in a darkroom, cut into strips, and assembled into four different collages printed on plexiglass plates.



Villa Kultur, Copenhagen 

Video Installation in collaboration with Louise Ørsted Jensen 

Performers in video: Ulrik Ørsnes Jansen, Benjamin 

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