Lise Haller Baggesen left her native Denmark to study painting in the Netherlands. Since receiving her BFA from the AKI academy of art and having completed at two-year residency at the Rijksakademie her work has evolved from a traditional painting practice through teaching, curating, and a growing interest in drawing as language, toward a hybrid practice including installation, writing and performative lecture. In 2008 she relocated to Chicago with her family, where she is currently doing her MA in Visual and Critical Studies at SAIC.
Q: How did you end up in Chicago?
A: My husband and I were getting a little tired of Amsterdam and started looking around for other places to go. We actually tried to get him transferred to Hong Kong, but that feel through and his employer said: “Well, we also have an office in Chicago, what do you think of that?”. Neither of us had ever had the ambition to live in the US, but we went to take a look and agreed to move here for a year… now we’ve been here for five, both our kids are in school here (and I recently graduated from the SAIC), and we are applying for a green card, so I guess we fell in love with the place…
Q: How did your career as an artist begin?
A: I really don’t know how to answer that question… maybe it started in my parents’ basement, or maybe it started when I decided to move to the Netherlands to pursue an arts education? Even now, I find it hard to think of what I do in terms of “career” so maybe that means that it still has to begin, or maybe it needs to start over again with each new idea?
Q: What was your residency at the Rijksakademie like? How did your style develop from that experience?
A: The Rijksakademie was and is an amazing place! I don’t know if it influenced me so much in terms of style, as it did in my experience of being connected to a bigger, global art scene. Coming from quite a provincial background, I was suddenly introduced to peers from all over the world. So it influenced the way that I am thinking and talking about art as much as the way I am making it.
Q: You’ve mentioned an interest in seeing drawing as a language. Can you elaborate on this idea?
A: Drawing, like language, is a way of translating thought into form.
Q: What inspires your work?
A: Confluence of influence ie. The magic that happens when different tropes and voices merge to form a new set of relations. I have a book coming out that draws inspiration from many of my favorite things (such as design theory, feminist utopia, sci-fi, and disco) and personal idols like Donna Summer, Suzanne Brogger, Antony Hegarty, Niki de Saint Phalle, Hilma af Klint, Cicciolina and many more.
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: Next stop is Detroit, where I will be installing a large mural at FILTER space and organize a show together with my two good friends Kirsten Leenaars and Kerstin Nieman. After that I will be working on the editing and design of my book “Mothernism” which will be published on Poor Farm Press in collaboration with Green Lantern Press next summer.
Q: Can you tell us a bit more about your upcoming book?
A: Yes, I’d be happy to. It happens to also be one of my favorite projects.
It started off as my thesis project for my MA in Visual Critical Studies, for which I received a VCS Fellowship award earlier this year.
“Mothernism” is a generous, hybrid project consisting of visual, spatial, and textual components forming a synergetic, immersive whole: Through the writing and art production of the fictional alma mater Queen Leeba, it explores the perceived schism, as well as the overlap, between mothering and artistic and curatorial practice.
At the intersection of interior design theory, feminist utopias, sci-fi and disco, “Mothernism” aims to locate the mother-shaped hole in contemporary art and discourse and explore the perceived schism and the overlap between mothering and artistic and curatorial practice.
The mother-ship of the project, a nomadic tent structure that serves as library, chill room and meeting point, is an immersive audio-visual installation and a multi-sensorial learning environment, in which knowledge transfer is propagated through cross pollination and exchange—creating a synergy between cerebral and embodied cognition.
Q: How do the art scenes in Denmark, the Netherlands, and Chicago differ from one another?
A: Amsterdam and Copenhagen are both vibrant and charming, yet pocket sized cities. This means that you can see everything you need to see within a bicycle rides distance. Not so in Chicago. It is not a very gallery driven scene, so the best stuff you’ll see you will often find in people’s backyards or in their living room. It can sometimes be hard to find and also a little daunting at first, but once you get introduced you are greeted with a real Midwestern hospitality and it is very rewarding.
Q: What is unique about the arts scene in Chicago?
A: Its DIY spirit and can-do attitude. I recently heard Chicago described as “the Berlin of the United States” and I think that’s very apt. There’s not a lot of money, but there is lots of (affordable) space, and an attitude of being “second to none”!
Q: Do you have any advice for young artists?
A: I guess my advice for the young would be the same as Mae West’s, namely “Grow up!” but then with the addition:”…but don’t grow out of it!”