Zinc White Lard
Sofie Amalie Andersen, 2020
Text from the exhibition catalog Zinc White Lard

Whether we are stockbrokers, art critics, refugees or presidents, the manuscript always shapes how the role is performed.
– Kjetil Røed, Kunsten og livet, s. 93, Flamme Forlag, 2019 (own translation)

A prompter is one that whispers.

Since the invention of modern theatre, actors worldwide have benefited from prompters. Discretely placed next to the stage, they can with a few hasty words lead the players back on track when the otherwise memorized text disappears, and by that make the actors appear flawless and compelling. Even though human prompters by now are being replaced by digital tools – so-called “teleprompters” that projects a scrolling text onto a see-through surface – the demand is still the same. As an audience, we wish to be deceived – and not be reminded that the actors on stage basically are acting out a manuscript in front of us.

The artist Lars Nordby has recently visited several great theaters in Europe. With his camera, he spent the last couple of minutes before the curtain is pulled together with the actors. With these photographs, Nordby portrays the theatre as it looks from the backside. Neither the final sentences learned by heart, the choreographed movements, or the perfect lighting is in focus; the fragility behind the layers of the white makeup mixture of zinc, vermillion, and grease is what has captured the attention of the artist. With his portraits of the human scenes acted out behind the stage, Nordby here highlights some of the dim solemnity lying right behind the spotlight.

Also, outside the walls of the theatre, we are constantly faced with acting. Changed media reality places higher demands on our abilities to portray ourselves as successful individuals, and we expect to see opinion leaders, debaters, and politicians act confidently in the spotlight of the media. Spokespersons must be able to ‘deliver’ speeches that they mostly haven’t written themselves in a trustworthy manner in front of the public – the audience – who are ready to judge their performance. In the exhibition space, Nordby lets teleprompter-texts with good advice on how to obtain a persuasive behavior scroll before our eyes. He asks us questions about what the actors are really doing when they trough layers of theatre makeup and rehearsed lines brush their clothes, prepare their smile, and step onto the stage? How are we affected by the well-prepared speeches and directed gazes? And to what extent are we, the audience, a part of the act ourselves?

Exhibition postponed due to COVID-19 / September 2020