In terms of process, Ann Cathrin November Høibo follows a simple pattern of warp-and-weft. Long, vertical strands – the warp – provide a working base through which she loops and knots the weft, or various muted and luminescent yarns, ropes, and cords. With this austere method, Høibo manages to make lush, complex and occasionally wild tapestries, guarded while brimming with textures and colours, like a garden that has been precisely designed to allow for overgrowth.
Høibo’s background is in weaving, but it would be difficult to call her a textile artist in a traditional sense. She also has an extensive sculptural practice that includes constructing the fixtures for her textiles. The brass forms seen in this exhibition, her second at Carl Freedman Gallery, are welded together with liquid silver. Left unfinished, the poles have a nebulous, smokey tarnish where the two metals, one man-made, the other raw, have chemically combined.
In other areas of her work, Høibo conflates natural fibres such as pure Norwegian wool with oil-based, imperishable synthetics. From a distance, these subtle switches between textures look like swaths of uncultured land seen in aerial view, or an abstract painting without the paint. While it is often difficult to identify the source of each strand, certain bits stand out as having once served a very different purpose. In one weaving, a t-shirt has been cut, stitched into a snakey yarn, and laced into the fabric. Høibo’s eye for material finds her selecting garments both for their real-world associations and for the potential shapes they can become.
A triptych in the show, simple yet charged, features three weavings in orange, purple and green, woven in situ at the gallery. Conscious of gravity, the threads hang plantlike, weighted down like the drips of paint in one of Cy Twombly’s blooms. Out of the corner of one’s eye, it is hard to tell that the last piece in the triptych is actually made of two distinct fibres; one of forest green, the other a shiny emerald. Upon even closer inspection, one can see that Høibo has embedded small charms in the tangles, purchased while on a trip to Mexico, birthplace of ancient weaving techniques still in use. As with other Norwegian textile masters with whom Høibo is connected in a lineage of apprenticeship – Else Marie Jakobsen, Hannah Ryggen, and Frida Hansen – the practice of weaving requires a constant negotiation between a reverence to this past and an ability to apply it to the future.
Ann Cathrin November Høibo (b. 1979) studied at Städelschule Frankfurt (2010-11), The National College of the Arts, Oslo (2009-11) and National Academy of Art and Handcraft, Oslo (2005-8). She lives and works in Kristiansand, Norway. This is her second solo show at the gallery. Recent solo exhibitions include Standard, Oslo; Michael Thibault Gallery, Los Angeles; Kristiansand Kunsthall, Kristiansand S; and Henie-Onstad Art Center, Høvik.
Recent group exhibitions include Entangled: Threads and Making, Turner Contemporary, Margate; Innland, Le Centre de Création Contemporaine Olivier Debré, Tours; Norwegian Sculpture Biennial 2017, Vigeland Museum, Oslo; Ode til en vaskeklut, hynne til en tiger, Kunstnerforbundet, Oslo; As if in a foreign country at Galerie nächst St. Stephan Rosemarie Schwarzwäld, Vienna; Image Support at Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen; Love Story at The Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo; Før og nå til etterpå at Sørlandets Kunstmuseum, Kristiansand S; The Cat Show at White Columns, New York; Layers at Rodeo, Istanbul; Interiors at Lulu, Mexico City; and A Disagreeable Object at Sculpture Center, New York. Her first monograph has just been published by Standard (Books).