Gasworks presents the first London solo exhibition by Malmö-based artist Ingela Ihrman. Moving freely between performance, sculpture and video, her work evokes the interconnected coexistence of seemingly humble life-forms such as invasive weeds, intestinal flora, extinct amphibians and nocturnal birds.
Ihrman's work nurtures empathy, tenderness and a sense of wonder before all living beings' earthbound existence as part of a larger ecology. Carefully handcrafted costumes are a recurring element, which come to life in awkward, often humorous performances where the artist embodies the joys and pains of oversized plants and animals whilst blooming or giving birth.
At Gasworks, Ihrman presents both newly commissioned and existing works, integrating them into a mythological arc inspired by the life (and imagined death) of Swedish nature filmmaker Jan Lindblad. The exhibition opens with Green Paradise (2009), an early video work which offers a gastroscopy-like journey into the meandering digestive tract of a giant snake, imagining what Lindblad would have seen from inside the anaconda he famously wrestled during one of his filming expeditions to the South American rainforest.
A newly-commissioned wearable sculpture will enable viewers to merge—quite literally—with nature, by embodying Lindblad's partially digested remains after his close encounter with an anaconda. In dialogue with these works, Ihrman will present a new iteration of Oilbird with Nestling (2021), a series of costumes and a performance work produced in conditions of self-isolation during the pandemic.
Oilbirds made their way into Ihrman's life through the films of Jan Lindblad, who used infra-red light to record the unseen behaviour of this tropical bird species that lives in constant darkness. The nestlings are so fat that early settlers and indigenous people would hunt them to extract oil for lamps—hence their name. Transforming the gallery into a pitch-dark nesting cave, Ihrman will encourage viewers to become nocturnal creatures and learn to navigate the exhibition space by echolocation.
The run of Ihrman's exhibition at Gasworks coincides with the approximate duration of an oilbird's nestling period. It will be punctuated by a live performance where the artist embodies an adult oilbird in the painstaking process of feeding their chick, as their young regurgitates fruit matter such as peel and seeds, which then becomes part of the fabric of their nest.
Nocturne is commissioned and produced by Gasworks with generous support from IASPIS, the Swedish Arts Grants Committee's international programme for visual and applied arts.
Gasworks commissions are supported by Catherine Petitgas and Gasworks Exhibitions Supporters.
Ingela Ihrman is an artist based in Malmö. Solo exhibitions include CCA Futura, Prague (2021); Cooper Gallery, University of Dundee (2018); der TANK, Institut Kunst, Basel (2017); and Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm (2016). Recent group exhibitions include Wellcome Collection, London (2021); Moderna Museet, Malmö; Kiasma, Helsinki (both 2020); Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2019); Lunds Konsthall (2018); Art Lab, Gnesta (2016). She has participated in the Yokohama Triennale (2020); Nordic Pavilion, 58th Venice Biennale (2019); and 11th Gwangju Biennale, The Eighth Climate (2016). In 2019, Ihrman was a recipient of the Pernod Ricard Fellowship.