from inside the artwork

I was born in Denmark. At nineteen I began my studies in Drawing at the Glyptotheque in Copenhagen. 1986-93 I studied at the Royal Academy of Art and then won a scholarship to the Danish Academy in Rome. I returned to Rome in 2006 and 2007 as a scholarship-holder. I have lived in Rome, Catania and Mexico City. Since 2012 I am living in Viterbo, Italy. In 2005 I quitted using my surname Petersen in my artistic activities.

My passion for drawing I combine with my interest in the anatomy of the human body, of plants and animals. My works are born out of my observing of the natural world; they refer to this organic world in continual transformation. To some of my drawings of hybrids I gave the title THE ANATOMIC GARDEN. They are individual works but I find that the serial numbering is important since I feel like a researcher collecting and cataloging materials which I then study in my imaginative place, my Anatomic Garden, imagined and created by me.
When I am beginning a drawing I have only a vague idea of what will eventually emerge. I use a thin pencil. With its tiny lines I can enter the little growing world of the drawing. Occasionally of course I will move back from it a little in order to get a wider vision. Then I come back to it once more in order to arrive intuitively at where it brings me.

What interests me a lot is the immaterial form emerging from behind the surface. Eg. the walls of an ancient house inspired a performance of mine where I wanted the memory of something in those walls lived and absorbed to emerge through me, their filter.

Often I create a work around a forgotten object, one destined to be destroyed since it is no longer of use or ( as in the case of bones and leaves ) is a mere remnant of life. My accidentally found objects have become art-works because they commanded me to listen to their inner secrets, to halt their process of decease and be given a new life.
I have used clothes from older times, dead leaves, dried up lizards, surgical instruments and animal-bones. The structure of old bones I find hauntingly fascinating; both those of animals and those of humans contain the idea of life but also of death. I see a bone; I see my mortality.

The project D.S.M. Departamento De Salud Mental, (Mental Health Department, made in collaboration with the photographer Alejandro Gomez de Tuddo) began with the discovery of some surgical instruments. My project is based on the retrieval of surgeons’ instruments from a former psychiatric hospital long abandoned.
It was a startling challenge to begin working with these; they terrified me. But I was determined to face up to my reaction – I felt these objects had an important history.
I began listening to them. I had the strong feeling that each surgical instrument nestling in my hand was not only a piece of steel but that there was also a history of human suffering vibrating within.
At first I found it impossible to work with them; I was powerless before cold steel. So I took a simple piece of cloth and wrapped up the steel instrument in my hand. I felt a healing process begin. It began to win a kind of organic softness. Now I commenced drawing the surgical instruments transcending the metal surface as if it was human skin and the interior bones and organs.
So my part of the installation project D.S.M. is composed of precisely these drawings and the instruments mounted on cushions.

I continued to work with my concept of fragility as force. Also in the realisation of the artworks I prefer materials like thread and cloth, pencil and paper. Work with my hands. Slow. Silent. Meditative.

I never use precise sketches in this work of transformation. Elaboration of the work at hand is important and I could never simply make use of a pre-determined scheme. I simply have to feel the energy flowing between the object and me. Through this exchange of energy its essence emerges. Into my hand I take needle and thread or paper and pencil. Yet I feel it is the object which is telling me what to do.

Also in my performances, as well as in the drawings, embroidery and adaptations, I let myself be guided by my intuition, by listening, by looking into the interior.

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