Cultural Recovery: A conversation with Maritea Dæhlin

Interdisciplinary artist Maritea Dæhlin (1986) alternates between living and working in Norway and Mexico. Her work includes performance, text, video and sound installation and has been shown at venues and festivals in Europe, Latin America and North America. During Oslo Internasjonale Teaterfestival 2021, she presented her brand new project I guess you have a lot of questions. A bedtime story, taking place overnight with the audience staying in separate hotel rooms.

What have been the most significant changes for you over the past since the pandemic began?

When the first lockdown hit, I had just finished a performance which had been developed over various years and the last showing had taken place just a couple of days earlier, as part of Oslo Internasjonale Teaterfestival 2020 at Black Box teater. I was visualizing this as the beginning of a time devoted to continuing to perform this piece, and I was also hungry to watch as many performances as possible. So I really felt the abstinence from art in the beginning of the lockdown.

During the few months when theaters were open again last autumn, I tried to see as many performances as I could, without keeping count, I think I ended up seeing more performances than I’ve seen in previous years but during a very short span of time, and the experience of being an audience member has felt even more precious. In terms of the experience of performing (which I also was lucky to do during the short re-opening) and of being an audience member, the pandemic has made me connect even more with theater, dance and live art experiences in general – and with their importance in my life.

But the biggest change is definitely not being able to travel to and stay in my other home on another continent.

What has been the most challenging for you during this time of pandemic?

All the rules, the fear of doing something wrong, of interpreting them differently than someone else, not wanting to cause a fear by my presence or my interactions with others. And not being able to travel.

How do you think this pandemic will impact your work?

The pandemic has already had a very specific impact on my work by opening new doors for my last project I guess you have a lot of questions. A bedtime story, which took place during Oslo Internasjonale Teaterfestival 2021. For a long time I’ve wanted to explore other formats, such as creating an experience for one audience member at a time, working outside an art space, creating a sound work, doing a durational piece, making a work that can be shown without me being there physically. And this piece ended up being all of that.

I still don’t know how the pandemic will affect my work in the long run in terms of ways of creating and living, as to move between different contexts and geographies has been and stills feels at the core of my artistic practice and life, but for now it seems very abstract to think of the possibility of traveling.

What do you think the art field needs in order to be taken well care of?

That’s a big question, but I think we need to feel connected to each other, support each other, listen to each other. And there needs to be economical support for all the artists and their collaborators who lost their income during the pandemic – this of course also counts for the rest of society. And we need spaces to show our work, and very importantly: the audience.

Read more conversations about cultural recovery by clicking here.