MAI MISFELDT,  M.A. in art history and reviewer for the daily newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad

Throughout her practice as an artist, Tina Maria Nielsen has worked with casts and imprints of real objects. She has dedicated her art to the neglected and discarded, which she has cast and transformed into artworks in materials as diverse as paraffin, wax, plaster, aluminium, and black or polished bronze. She has transferred spaces and objects from one context to another, from one material to another, transferred her studio and home to the exhibition space, and turned familiar objects inside out.

She focuses on the gaps and cracks of life, balancing between the virtually insignificant and the edge of symbolism. She has worked with open and closed spaces, the inside and outside, form and anti-form, defects and flaws. She is interested in history, in specific places and the spirit they have by virtue of the lives that have been lived there. In the present exhibition the oeuvre of Anne Marie Carl- Nielsen is a keynote.

Tina Maria Nielsen sees the work of an artist as a mindset. Her work revolves around this mindset and the way it becomes visible via the materials she uses. Her works are conceptual in origin in that she casts what already exists, but this conceptual element is solely a point of departure for the reflections generated by the physically demanding labour with materials. The genesis of the work and process behind it are laid bare in the finished work.

In the first gallery of her works at Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art, which was originally the painters’ gallery, Tina Maria Nielsen shows the work Front Matter (2012), which seen from one side is a reconstruction of her studio wall, and from the other mimes a piece of scenery supported from behind. The work is made of transparent acrylic sheets glued together, making it impossible to distinguish between what each side represents – between ‘front’ and ‘matter’ – with the edges of the work appearing as an outline in the gallery space. The work is simultaneously manifest and flickeringly hard to pin down. The sculpture conceals nothing. The entire process, including the obvious gluing, is on display: the artist’s sacrosanct refuge, the studio, can be seen right through. At the same time the sculpture is an inviolable membrane, a firm refusal, a hard surface you have to get around to move on. The front is the side we meet the world with, but it is also a boundary where the battle played out in the material becomes palpable.

For Past Present (2018) Tina Maria Nielsen has been in the basement of the art academy in Copenhagen, where old casts of classical sculptures and the moulds they are made from lie virtually forgotten, like a reservoir of memory. Tina Maria Nielsen has chosen two sculptures and a multitude of casts and moulds of hands and arms she found in the old basement. She has recreated the casts and moulds in plaster and bronze, sampled in an installation in the second gallery of her work in the exhibition, which was originally the sculptors’ gallery at Den Frie.

When a full figure is cast, the arms are often cast separately then attached at a later stage. They are additions to the body of the sculpture, but at the same time essential to what it expresses. It is the hands that point, gesticulate, hold signs and symbols, are open or closed to the viewer. Hands and arms are also the most important tool of the sculptor, connecting abstract concept to physical reality. The world as we currently know it has been made by hands. In reference to a high- tech world where a reality created by robots is replacing the manual world, the arms lie scattered and severed from their origins.

The sculptures are different in scale, origin and style: from the Archaic calf bearer (c. 570 BCE) with its stylized symbolism, to a fragmented erotic sculpture from the first century; from the graceful arm of a woman, to a solid, muscular arm that could have been inspired by Rodin. Tina Maria Nielsen’s view of the sculptures as ideals of beauty and of the old casting moulds is that of a sculptor. She sees them as forms, and by transporting them to new casts she makes the forms and the time they were made visible to the viewer.

The sculptures do not only have a history. They also have a story that extends into the future and reaches into the past. Like traces.