Christine Ödlund
Musik för Eukaryoter (Music for Eukaryotes)
August 22 – September 29, 2013, Stockholm


Plants and sound, circuits and visions of the future, greenhouse- and laboratory environments, occultism and science – in a constant movement between the smallest of particles and the infinitely large. Galleri Riis Stockholm is proud to present our first exhibition with Christine Ödlund, Music for Eukaryotes.

Ödlund has with fine-tuned sensibility and poignant accuracy explored and embodied phenomena and worlds that humans, with our limited senses, scarcely can perceive. Her interest in science as well as esoteric knowledge allows for surprising connotations. Through meditation she places herself in a condition she refers to as simulated synaesthesia, in which sensory impressions flow freely; scientific data or audio translates into colours, music transforms into shapes or motions, images become sensations of taste. Aligned with this interdisciplinary thinking Ödlund has followed researchers in organic chemistry at KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm in their attempts to decipher the chemical language of plants. Transforming scientists’ data into notes and sounds, she creates aesthetically evocative musical scores that could potentially bridge the language barrier between plants and human beings.

Studies at KTH have shown that the yellow Admiral butterfly uses its front legs as drumsticks to knock on plants during specific periods of time. The butterfly’s favourite is the nettle, which biologically is – like humans – categorized as eukaryotes. Scientists believe that the drumming is performed to extort chemical information from the plant. Ödlund has through her studies of the phenomena identified certain patterns and rhythms, her artistic interpretation being that the butterflies with their drumbeats induce the plant to hypnosis and in this disarmed state it reveals its chemical secrets. These studies have begotten to some of the works in the exhibition including sculptural installations where living plants seem to have taken over the laboratory environment and in which nettles are exposed to sound and music. Here she touches on the controversial scientists Cleve Backster and Dorothy Retallack who in the 1960s and 70s independently performed experiments on plants, which lead them to infer saplings with emotions and communicative abilities. Backster used his polygraph machine, while Retallack conducted experiments exposing seedlings to Indian sitar music and Led Zeppelin (concluding that the latter made them wither and lose their spark of life).

Another theme in the exhibition is the Atlantis myth. In one of the large works on paper Ödlund envisions Atlantis as a result of global warming ultimately making the earth impossible to inhabit – exempting fungi and mold – forcing humans to seek protection in biospheres below sea level. The strange landscape, the furrows and convolutions similar to the topography of a brain guides the viewer into the depth of the image.

The encounter between art, science and esotericism makes for a fertile playground wherein the artist can create speculative – yet sincere – scenarios. As with the theosophical protagonists Helena Blavatsky and Annie Besant, whom are both sources of inspiration for Ödlund, she sees the synthesis of philosophy, spirituality, art and science as a holistic method of approaching and understanding the world. The resulting artworks in the exhibition encompasses the fateful, the beautiful and the frightening.

Christine Ödlund (born 1963) lives and works in Stockholm. She graduated from Electro Acoustic Music (EAM course), EMS, Stockholm in 2004 and from the Royal College of Art, Stockholm 1996 and Konstfack, Stockholm 1995. In 2013 she has participated in In the stream at Lunds Konsthall, freq_out 9, Sonic Acts Festival, Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Art and Music – Search for New Synesthesia, Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. In late August 2013, her public artwork Lindarnas anatomi will be inaugurated in Kista Gårds Park outside Stockholm and later this year her work Atlantis No. 2/2012 will be installed in Statoil Oslo Offices, Fornebu, Oslo. As a sound artist, she has this year released Astral Bells (24 min Single CD), Federation of Swedish Art Associations, 2013.

For further information and images please contact the gallery.

Exhibited works

Installation views