Ann Cathrin November Høibo, an idiosyncratic and refreshingly eccentric young Norwegian, is garnering international attention for her offbeat sculptures and paintings utilizing weaving, fabric, dangling string and cords, rubber bands, various found objects and spare, intense color. Høibo’s austere, yet curiously lush, exhibition “Informers,” at the adventurous, artist-run SIC, showcased how her extremely material art is suffused with ineffable feeling, with a visual poetry that you can’t really place but instead accept and absorb.
Høibo’s background is in weaving, but she is by no means a textile artist per se. One of the show’s multiple pieces designated Untitled (informers)—all works 2014—is a handwoven tapestry of primarily beige wool hung from a horizontal white bar on the wall. Laced through the material, resembling spreading stains, are jagged forms in red, soft pink, deep blue, white, several grays and black, made from a torn-up jersey and nylon strands. This is one of many times when Høibo combines natural and synthetic materials, wool fashioned on a loom and commercial products. Hinting at an abstract painting sans paint, while also suggesting landforms seen from above or a watery cascade, the tapestry is quiescent and supple but also agitated and jarring, with its rough, uneven surface and tangled colors. Nearby on the wall was Slice, composed of two small metal bars—one horizontal and the other (just above it) at an angle—sheathed in the legs from a pair of silver jeans. The fabric looks crumpled, sullied and distressed but also, in parts, iridescent, while a pink rubber band and a small piece of green plastic on the top object are surprisingly resplendent. On the floor was another Untitled (informers), this one an upright piece of perforated brass that resembles a cross between a wastepaper basket and an industrial scrap. A baseball cap sporting cartoon figures is perched on top, while two nylon cords, one orange and one white, spill down to the floor. What could easily have been an abject work made from detritus instead looks marvelous, even alchemical: this dross gleams like gold.
Høibo’s straightforward works disclose exactly what was accomplished, and with what materials, while they reference or incorporate commonplace domestic objects. Still, they have a remarkable air of mystery, wonderment and transformation. Two abstract paintings consist of bleached blue denim on wooden stretchers. Intermittent blotches, streaks, creases and lines make them fluxional and vibrational.
With Crampons (informers), a white metal bar is attached to the wall, horizontally. Hooked on one end is a pair of bright green plastic crampons (spiked footwear worn by mountain climbers). From the other end, white nylon braids, two green strands and a single black strand gently descend toward the floor. Above, pink, black and green rubber bands attached to a white acrylic plate form a colorful cluster; several wispy, clear plastic strips hanging down from the plate loosely conjure drifting snow and glinting ice. On the floor is a spray of cotton flowers in a vase. Multiple colors, textures and connotations converge in a nature/culture conflation that is incredibly sensitive, thoughtful and frankly enthralling.
In an adjacent, dark, grotto-like space was Miami Beach—11, a large-scale projection of an iPhone video. As the iPhone owner (presumably Høibo) walks on the beach, you see footprints everywhere, tire tracks, and occasional shadows, and you hear the ocean wind. This humble beach walk seems ritualistic and vast: one person’s progression through a protean world marked by evidence of all those who have gone before.