"Sharp pointed criticism",  Lars Elton, Kunsthåndverk 4/99

Critic of the exhibition “CROSS” 1999

Louise Nippierd is one of those very few political artists. Her jewellery, whilst relating at one level to themes of a personal nature, functions equally well as criticism of a warped society. Typecasting is dangerous, so I must emphasize from the outset that “political art” is only one of several possible interpretations of Louise Nippierd’s work. However, in her case, it is clear that far more than just the aesthetic dimension is present.

Louise Nippierd is a talented artist who has distinguished herself through her sharp and spiky jewellery. Her production includes finger rings of a fairly flamboyant design, but, at the same time, she is executing large works of a more conceptual nature.
When, as in this exhibition, she broaches the theme of eating disorders, the sharp spikes are turned inwards. The larger pieces then enclose the body in objects that symbolize, all to clearly, the pain inflicted by these psychosomatic illnesses.
The larger body pieces function both as protective armour and as instruments of torture, and they lie on the borderline between pure decorative sculptures and costumes. Whilst the one piece covers both head and body, a second directs all attention towards the mouth, and the third points towards the stomach and lower abdomen.

These compositions have a fascinating ambiguity, hearing, as with the illnesses they symbolize, both upon beauty and upon themes that most people find unpalatable. The combination of protective armour and instrument of torture has already been mentioned. A common feature of eating disorders is that the sufferers are trying to reach perfection of beauty as a defense against their own expectations and those of their surroundings. Unhappily, in trying to achieve this, they torture their own bodies.

These body-sculptures echo a parallel theme. They have a fascinating outer beauty, but due to their construction and the nature of the chosen material anodized aluminum they are capable of causing physical pain to the bearer. With titles such as “Rigid Renouncement”, “Hungry Heart” and “Delightful Deliverance” (body-pieces) together with “Coveting Consolation” and “Earnest Expectations” (head-pieces), she is putting into words conditions that can be both self destructive and pleasurable.
But Louise Nippierd has also created arm- and fingerings that express protection and their titles “Camouflage Covering” and “Covering” point directly to this theme.

“Cross”, the exhibition’s chosen title, holds similar ambiguities in its several meanings. My opening contention that this is political art must be seen in the light of the last decade’s artistic focus on the human body. In such a context, Louise Nippierd’s work stands out as political protest criticizing the increasing pressures on personality: pressures in the form of ideals of beauty, in demands for personal happiness, and, through purification, complete control of one’s own body. When food becomes the outlet for emotions gone awry, the body is made to suffer for maladies of the mind.

Louise Nippierd is not delivering slogans, but her ability to comment this phenomenon through art is a political act that can be an important corrective to the normal terms used by psychiatry and the mass media.

© Lars Elton