Review

A Conversation

– a discussion – a new discussion – a new conversation – another discussion – another dance – something different...

My encounter with Kain Tapper’s art was one of recognition and childhood recollections. Something original and genuine, having more to do with being a part of rather than of understanding something, such as leaning against a warm stone in the sun. Treading mindfully, reveling in the open landscape, finding traces made by weather, water, and age. Forest and mountain, weathered log houses, worn slate tiles and salt stained troughs: these all come to mind. Woodwork with carved initials, round, smooth grooves in the wood that are good to the touch. Marks of children’s impatient waiting, smooth, almost scrubbed away, while others are but some fresher and raw: a new, slightly illicit story. Stirring memories, senses and desire. To feel, grip, finger. Wonder about and contemplate. Part of the simple and the complicated, that which is nature.

Kain Tapper came to Vega, to us. It is his turn to experience our nature: extremely variable, bountiful, demanding, inviting and rebuking, often all at the same time. Archeological finds confirm that people were able to live and feed themselves in Vega even during the Ice Age. Ten thousand years ago doesn’t seem that far off in this place – it seems as though life here must have always been as it is now. The landscape has changed, modern living conditions have left their traces, but they are relatively few. Roads and bridges do not occupy much space and the clusters of houses are scattered. Lights on winter evenings, cars and four-wheel tractors testify to life between stone and marsh. The ferry and the transmission tower on the mountain connect us to the rest of the world. The day when all that is left behind becomes interesting solely as traces of what was is the day when there is no longer a future here for people.

In Vega, Kain Tapper is taken with the juxtaposition of the grandeur and the simplicity in nature, the conditions, the landscape and the ocean that divides, reflects, and provides food and transportation. On the western side against a jagged mountain wall there are worn, smooth rounded stones that resemble wet, lazy animals lying on a beach. To the north and south, images shift with the weather and light conditions. The landscape is marshy and stony, but still has forest and lush cultivated areas all the way down to the shore.
With humility toward all he saw and experienced, Kain drove around, climbed steep paths, found and ruled out sites. The sculpture should accentuate rather than draw attention away from the landscape. The forms should be approached, discovered as something other than nature, but they should not be flamboyant or presented at the expense of what was there before. The material must thus be stone – preferably local stone.

Unfortunately, Vega granite is too unstable; it is impossible to find a block able to tolerate the work process. Kain Tapper chose Grimsøy, right before the old bridge, as the site for the sculptures – an idyll with straits, coves and marshy hills. The Vega Mountains in the distance provide a sense of open landscape as well as create a connection between Vega and the mainland.

The gravel road twisted through the landscape then, over an old stone bridge and further toward Igerøy and the ferry landing. The road was to be extended, the bridge made bigger and high enough to permit boat traffic through the sound. Would this ruin the site? Kain didn’t think so. The sculptures were placed so that one could see them from a car – one didn’t need to really see them, perhaps just notice something that was distinct from nature. Take a better look the next time one drives by; notice the landscape and view. Have the urge to stop. Yet the sculptures should not “disturb” the experience of the natural surroundings. Scale is critical, and it is important to find the right place for each element: against the horizon, against the mountains, and in relation to each other.

The form and surface of the sculptures reveal Kain Tapper as the artist. There is a patina to his wood sculptures that result from detailed work with the surface. Likewise, the surfaces of these three stones have been worked, carved with grooves and sanded to appear as though they have always been there. The forms are not quite geometric, but are nonetheless the obvious products of human thoughts, hands and experiences. They reflect Kain’s rich knowledge and experience, while also becoming part of the nature and assuming a kind of “life” of their own.

The original placement of the sculptures in relation to one another, the loose triangle they form and the individual forms against their respective mountain view, reveals a thought process: The triangle against the sharp and self-conscious Vika Mountain, the column against Alsten, and the rectangular shape against the inland mountain range. This engages the work in an external conversation and an internal conversation in Vega. A moment of art debate: What is that out there in Grimsøy fields? – Why this way and not that? A new discussion for us. Art as a conversation topic is not impossible any longer for there are so many words and nuances to direct such conversations. This is so not necessarily as a result of this sculpture project, but rather because people’s interests have developed in keeping with increased travel and information streams. The difference is that “art” used to exist in other places – where a battle for the essential was dominant.

When the last road and bridge were finished, Kain reoriented the column. The sculptures now have a zig-zag formation, with the column facing out toward the sea. Looking outward is important; it captures the essence of life on an island. Contact with each other is crucial but an exchange of impulses with the external world is also necessary. Attributing a somewhat existential, literary content to the sculptures allows them, as the title suggests, to be part of the discussion. The sculptures are themselves without any other content than that which surrounds us, yet different. Beautiful forms that will remain for many years only to become overgrown and share the slow disintegration to which all stones are destined. It is a pleasure for me to drive past, to see them in new contexts or sometimes just to know that they are there, a privilege to be there together with children – of all ages. It may be a causal dialogue, an investigation or perhaps play. An exciting place to visit, and it pleases me that the children will grow up with the beauty and challenges of Vega Island, including Kain Tapper’s sculptures.

Margrete Gunnes

6.class at Sør-Helgeland art school

10-11 year old pupils

There is ocean next to the tall stone. They are placed as a V for Vega and they are placed far apart. There are not many trees in the area. There is a lot of heather there too. And there is bog-land mixed with the heather, and therefore it is quite wet there. There are eagles’ mounds nearby. The stone that is not so broad and stands closest to the road where the bridge is, it is triangular. The stones  are holding a conversation.

Ann-Kristin

The sculptures are in a place where the landscape is nice. They hold conversations with the other mountains out in the sea. For example: Dønnamannen, Alsten and Lovund. They have different colors on their stony sides, and the surroundings are heather, moss, eagles’ mounds and fresh air. People go there to experience the nature and the conversations. From Igerøy one can see Torghatten. One can also go to Bø to climb  the Bø mountain. Then one can see several mountains. If one climbs Gullvåg mountain or Trollvasstinden one can see Halmøy and the other islands and then one sees the whole of Vega. I have done that!

Isa

9.class at Sør-Helgeland art school

14-15 year old pupils

When we arrived, it was dark and cold. We fired up some big, outdoor candles, which was very difficult. It became lighter, and we could see the beautiful sculptures that were standing there. They are just so magic and secret. We do not really know how people can get such a magnificent idea, to make precisely these forms? We could almost see the conversation between the “stones” or sculptures, it was fabulous. Even if the stones were grey, it was colorful.   

It was really interesting to be there and take a look at the sculptures. And it gave me a lot to think about: What was Kain Tapper thinking about when he made them? Why? Was there really a reason? Or did he just use his imagination? Who knows? Lots of thoughts from Kristina.

Kristina

When we came, they stood there in the dark mist, mysterious and quiet. We sat behind the statues to get away from the wind. We had many torches so that we could see, because it was very dark as well. The stones had been carved and had an uneven surface. Margrete explained that the stones originally stood in a triangle formation. They were having a conversation. But now they had been moved into a line, and are symbolize Vega talking to other countries and places. We have to care about other places as well, even if we live on an isolated island. We were going to light some torches from the sculptures to the sea. But it was so windy that they blew out as soon as we lighted them. We later managed to make a line of torches where it wasn’t so windy.

Jan Are

Give it time, he says encouragingly. Contemporary art is often like that.
Kain Tapper, Brønnøysunds Avis 19.08.95


It can hardly be necessary to place rocks here where there were nothing more than rocks to begin with.
Native from Vega to VG 20.08.92

Urbane blocks of stone from Berlin.
The artist Karl Erik Harr, quoted in Dagbladet 01.09.92