text by Lesley Millar
her work, Anniken Amundsen is giving an external
materiality to the interior force described by
Susan Sontag as ".. unregulated,
abnormal incoherent growth. The tumor has energy ... the cancer cells
grow and extend over each other in a chaotic fashion" . For
artists it is possible to make allusion to the unpresentable by means
of visible presentations, as demonstrated by Helen Chadwick, for example,
in her Viral
Landscapes. However, as Marina Warner points out, the Modernist struggle
to express concealed inwardness draw on the visual linguistics of earlier
mystical imagery even when originating fresh metaphors or reinvigorating
old ones .
uses her understanding of popular culture and her
knowledge of trauma to transcribe explicit medical
imagery. She has devised a specifically personal,
visual and textile language which allows her to create
a representation of her inner reality, those cancer
cells which were mutating and reproducing. The manner
of making her three-dimensional textiles presents
the viewer with the perception of both interior and
exterior form. There is a sense that the outline
is in a process of continuous change; the shapes
created appear to be moving from the centre, outward,
penetrating the surround space. And while "they" are "out
there" we can, safely, look and respond.
 Illness as metaphor, Susan Sontag, p. 24
 The Inner Eye: Art beyond the visible, Marina Warner, p. 13
Millar is currently Daiwa/AHRB Research Fellow
in Contemporary Textiles at The Surrey Institute
of Art and Design University College.
text by Anniken Amundsen
classic computer game "Space Invaders" provides
an apt metaphor for the agressive behaviour
of cancer. The alien invaders attack in increasing
numbers and seem to multiply as you proceed
through the game. If you are overcome by the invaders,
you lose strength, or you loose lives. In the
human body, cancer cells are aliens that mutate
and reproduce in defiance of the normal restraints.
They invade and colonise territories normally
reserved for other cells, and in the end destroy
the whole cellular society.
word cancer itself makes most of us shiver with fear.
It is a word and an illness that gives close associations
to pain, sorrow and death. What is cancer? Is it
some kind of creature or monster that spreads its
venom randomly in our bodies, or is it an other-worldly
parasite that consumes human bodies one by one and
proliferates in the inner darkness of the body?
everybody has been touched by the mercilessness of
cancer, directly or indirectly. The condition has
reached almost epidemical numbers and strikes adults
and elderly people as well as children. The illness
is perceived as ruthless, endless, determined and
explosive, and the treatment can be associated with
chemical and biological warfare. The dramatic process
and side-effects during the illness and treatment
are brutal no matter what diagnosis and final outcome
towards cure or death.
exhibition Invaders confronts perceptions
around cancer, based on medical literature on cell
biology and oncology, mixed with psychological emotions
and associations gained through the experiences of
patients, relatives and friends. These visualisations
of cancer show a strategy of disarming the invader
by making the invisible enemy visible, and lead an
active psychological counterattack on the many open
wounds and scars of cancer.
Kristeva writes in Powers of Horror: "But
when one's weak, the thing that gives one strength
is stripping those one fears of the slightest prestige
that one may still tend to accord them. One must
teach oneself to see them as they are, as worse than
they are, that is. One should look at them from all
points of view. This detatches, sets you free and
is much more of a protection than you can possibly
imagine. It gives you another self, so that there
are two of you together."