MUNTHE ART MONDAY: Mie Mørkeberg
Tell us who you are and what you do.
My name is Mie Mørkeberg. I am a trained visual artist from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts 1999-2006. I live and work in Copenhagen.
Ever since my teenage years, I have known that I wanted to be an artist and have therefore been very focused from an early age. Art, and especially painting, have filled up almost everything throughout my adult life.
To me, painting is a source that flows endlessly, it is unstoppable and I never get tired of it. I always work with painting. The best times are in the studio when I work with it physically, but I also have days where I go through it mentally.
If I let it go, it can fill my whole life. But I also have two children, a son and a daughter, and of course they also have their space which is different from that of my art.
At the moment I am particularly interested in the mythological. I paint large black-clad creatures that I pull out partly from my subconscious, but also with inspiration from various mythological narratives.
In January 2021, I will open a solo exhibition at the Art Museum Trapholt in Kolding. The title of the exhibition is “Kryptomania”. The exhibition consists of paintings, but also ceramics, which I have been very interested in in recent years.
Could you explain a little more about your process and how you normally work?
I often work with impasto, that is, I use a lot of paint and sometimes it almost turns into large lumps, which become part of the picture. In recent years, I have started working with a kind of canvas collage, I cut and tear up pieces of canvas and paste them into the work I am working on. The fact that I paste new canvas into the work gives me a freedom when I create. Just like that, I can get a clean surface that can be utilized in different ways.
Who are some other female artists that inspire you and why?
Louise Bourgeois, Pipilotta Rist, Marlene Dumas, Frida Kahlo, - These artists are all turned up. They do not hold anything back, at the same time they tell a painful and sensitive story, each in their own way. That inspires me, along with the way they perform their art through both an aggressive, ugly and sensitive universe. You know that what they have on their minds must come out - and is razor sharp.
If you could give one piece of advice to emerging female artists entering the art scene - what would that be?
You have to stand up for yourself, not follow different currents, just do what you really want, don't be afraid to shout out loudly.
Pay attention to whether anyone is trying to put obstacles in your way.
One must try to surround oneself with people who support you and wish you well. I have discovered that along the way, you need good people around you, to spar with and to support you - that is very important.
How has being a woman affected your career?
If I had been asked, when I was young, still at the academy, and also a few years after that, - if it makes any difference that I am a woman who is an artist - if I should expect to fare worse than a man, - then I would have said that we are equal.
Men and women are equal. We have heard this throughout our upbringing, at least my generation has.
But that's just not the case. There are many aspects to that statement. One of the big problems in the art world, I think, is that self-confidence is not cultivated if you happen to be a woman. Women do not get the same opportunities in art as men, historically.
It means a lot to an artist that someone supports and believes in what you do. You must have the opportunity to evolve, for example in the context of museums, you must be financially supported, backed up by other professionals… if this does not happen to an artist, you become smaller - the art becomes smaller, it does not dare as much.
It is a spiral. You can be driven forward and lifted up, or you can be held down and shut out of the "cigar club". Here, women are clearly disadvantaged.
Do you pursue any specific themes in your art - if yes - could you explain which and why?
I do not know if one can say that I prefer it or pursue it. But I have several times used the motif of a woman boxing. This motif stands out from most other things I do, but she shows up occasionally. The way I paint her is also different from my other works. She is a kind of symbol for me, of being an artist, of working with painting and of being a part of the art world in general. It is very hard and you have to be prepared to take some punches, that's how it is. So she fits in. I want you to see my works as one whole and the boxer is like a kind of defense I line up. You can just come and get some, I hit back.
What is your position on feminism and the fight for women’s rights and equality in the art world?
I have become a feminist over the years. In recent years, feminism has occupied me more and more. I see very obvious reasons be a feminist, in all sorts of corners and edges of society. When my daughter went to 9th grade, she came home and said that feminists were a very specific kind of women, in her class feminists were referred to in the same way as in the 70s, as someone who was talked down upon, as embarrassing and someone who just does not like men. I felt that in that class, and at that school, they still had old-fashioned gender roles. It is absolutely crazy that this attitude still exists in our society, and you have to be aware of that. The oppression of women is still in full bloom in Denmark as well.
I thought it was so important to talk to young people about gender equality. There is still a long way to go, but there is definitely a lot of development going on now and the 20-30 year olds have started shouting really loudly. That's a good sign.
What has been the most challenging aspect of being a female artist?
To allow myself to take up space. To believe in the strength that is in my painting. I have been told that “what I do is cool because I paint like a man”. What kind of thing is that to say? I paint like me, that's who. My paintings are not me, they are works I have made, and the biggest challenge is to get the audience to experience them, regardless of gender.
Read all the interviews with female artists at MUNTHE ART MONDAY.