“My process often starts with something concrete and with physical work on the form and goes on to develop from this point of departure. This time it was the concept that was my starting point.”
Regardless of whether the limited time contributed to the process this time appearing to be different, I perceive a new directness in Stöckel’s relation to her art. At times she seems to be searching for words to describe the work we are looking at, but her method of approaching the underlying theme and materiality is characterized by a clear directness. In spite of the fact that Stöckel has not had a traditional training in ceramics, throughout her artistic career she has gotten to know her material well as she frequently returns to it. This is particularly evident in the way she gives form to her sculptures, through precise consideration and care. With an MFA from the National Academy of Fine Arts in Oslo, she allows herself space for interpreting her material’s limitations and how these can be dealt with in all aspects of form and context to the ultimate surface layer.
Stöckel’s artistic expression moves within a landscape of familiar forms often consisting of abstracted and expanding parts of the body. In her work she has repeatedly researched the body’s functions and aesthetic. By questioning conventional notions of beauty, she has given power and space to bodies that are normally viewed as non-normative. With a paired-down, yet at the same time expansive and corporal approach to form, the details in her works are given a great deal of space. Stöckel’s soft forms pour themselves over each other in a beguiling manner which invites the viewer to come closer. At the same time, she creates her installations in a manner that lets the forms slowly continue to take up space beyond their visual presence. For every scrutinizing, intrusive gaze the objectification is strengthened, letting the viewer become conscious of her or his own presence and placement in relation to the works.
With a recurring language of form she moves unimpeded between different scales, structures and colours without her work becoming predictable. Clay and glazes can be formed and controlled with real precision, while at the same time, a serendipitous aspect is preserved in Stöckel’s work. The challenge represented by working in a material with a will of its own has resulted in a different expression than she had originally planned. And this is something that she uses to her advantage in her carefully constructed installations. A glaze with an unexpected colour, or a sculpture that has cracked is not always a reason for being excluded from what is ultimately exhibited. At times such irreparable mistakes have been consciously added to the object in order to contribute to the totality of the work. In her artistic expression there is a resistance towards conformity.
“There is a risk that a sculpture becomes nothing more than a beautiful object. The characteristics of the material, and the possibilities offered, are important to me, but they are not enough. I am not interested in falling into step with what is expected of me but, rather, in investigating how borders can be erased. Expectations regarding my participation as, for example, a craftsperson or a Sámi artist, as well as the viewer’s interpretation of my works, change depending on how the context and the background to my work are presented.”
Context and theme are the specific conditions that Stöckel relates to in her work. By means of her artistic expression she explores how preconceptions and conventional modes of thinking can be challenged, how boundaries can be pushed and how, with the help of her creativity, she can contribute more than expected. Many of Stöckel’s newly created works move as time passes, reminding us of how our own time can, in different ways, relate intimately to historical events. It is only in more recent times that Stöckel’s Sámi background has expressly found a place in her art.