Christine Ödlund is a contemporary artist who lives and works in Sweden. Her work has been exhibited globally including in a group exhibition, Art & Music – Search for New Synesthesia at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. At the end of 2012, she participated in Swedish Energies: A Festival for Experimental, Improvisational and Visionary Music & Performance Art in New York. The combination of these three terms – experimental, improvisational, visionary – evocatively describes Ödlund’s work, which connects the material and immaterial, the visible and non-visible in ways that refuse neat categorisation. This border-crossing is a hallmark of her work. She is a visual artist and a composer; she works with sound and film installation; she produces exquisite drawings and uses watercolours in ways that can be both delicate and bold; she creates imposing sculptural interventions. Ödlund works across scales: the small, the imposing, the immeasurable. Combining her interests and research across the fields of ecological chemistry, the occult, synaesthetic response, sensory experience, metaphysics and environmental systems, her works are sensitive, thoughtful and provocative. They ask us to think about the world we live in, the future world that we want to inhabit and the worlds of our imagination. Ödlund is an active researcher and collaborator, working with scientists at the Ecological Chemistry department of KTH in Stockholm. Her research is also historically mediated and she has explored Theosophical texts and thought in many of her works, drawn in particular to the radical and activist streak of its early women leaders Helena P. Blavatsky and Annie Besant. To witness Ödlund’s work is never solely a visual experience. We are often asked to look, to hear, to smell – and also to dream, to imagine, to think. Our senses are heightened and new experiences are opened up.
Sarah Victoria Turner is Assistant Director for Research at the Paul Mellon Centre and was previously a lecturer in the Department of History of Art at the University of York. She is Principal Investigator of an international network funded by the Leverhulme Trust, Enchanted Modernities: Theosophy, Modernism and the Arts, c. 1875–1960. The network brings together art historians, musicologists, historians and literature specialists to explore what the visual, material and performing arts can tell us about the relationships between Theosophy, modernity and mysticism from c.1875 to 1960. The research carried out by the network’s partners will examine where and how artists, writers and performers came into contact with Theosophy and other mystical practices, and how Theosophical ideas, especially those of key figures in the Society in this period, such as Helena Blavatsky and Annie Besant, were given material, visual and audible form.