Exhibition view: Norsk Billedhoggerforening, Oslo, 2022
In the exhibition Mother's Ectoplasm, the interaction between the present and the past, the immaterial and the material, is explored, a result of Nel's fascination with the stories of ectoplasm. The term was first used by Charles Richet, a French physiologist who won the Nobel Prize in 1913. Ectoplasm, from Greek ektos ("outside") and plasma ("something shaped"), is a mythical substance that is allegedly transferred from a medium's body in connection with spiritualist sessions with the spirit world. According to the theories, ectoplasm is located in the transition between the etheric and the physical plane and therefore made it possible for the spirits to "take physical form" on/in this substance, which often came out of the medium's nose or mouth during the séances.
Accounts from the early 20th century describe ectoplasm as a smooth material or about a substance that started as completely translucent and then gradually materialised. Some said that ectoplasm gave off a strong smell, while others told of a matter that glowed faintly, sometimes luminescent, and that disintegrated when exposed to light. With an artistry that has mutated from photography, Kobie Nel's installations always express an interest in the components of light and color, which is also evident in this exhibition where the daylight from the windows takes on an active role in gradually changing the color of the foam rubber material in the exhibition, and thus leave their mark on the installation; as in a Camera Obscura. The property of the foam rubber material also absorbs sound and contributes to a sensory experience as it subtly changes the acoustics of the room.
In addition to subtle components such as sound and light, the exhibition consists of several other works and details in various materials. The main work in the exhibition, Mothers Ectoplasma, is a large glass work; a sunken headless female figure, activated by the light in the room so that it can also resemble a landscape, or an ice sculpture. In several places in the exhibition, traces of "ectoplasm" can be seen, as small hints of a spiritual presence. By using the Bildedhoggerforeningen's gallery space as a sketchbook, Nel has worked out a site-specific installation that tries to give the public a sensory experience where reality and fantasy merge.