The Cult Of Oxytocin by Ditte Ejlerskov

Started on the 12th of February and now in its final days, the “Cult of Oxytocin” art exhibition created by Ditte Ejlerskov is certainly one of the most representative examples of the mixing of various artistic disciplines, including those born in recent years.

Thanks to an intelligent and well-composed storyline, Ditte teaches us through the goddesses Adrenaline and Oxytocin, who are constantly fighting each other, how to regain control over our bodies without external methods, using only our own abilities, and freeing ourselves from the evil and negative energies accumulated during the last hard years of the pandemic.

Through the huge carpets, augmented reality and paintings depicting gradients of different colours, we find ourselves in a space where time stands still, our understanding of ourselves increases and chromotherapy soothes our senses, allowing us to admire what lies within us.

By embracing NFT technology, the artist gives us the opportunity to participate in the mission of rediscovering our bodies and minds: cryptocurrencies are for sharing.

With a glance towards the future of new technologies and new art to come, we invite you to read the following interview to find new insights, inspirations and a better understanding of the work behind this immense project, dedicated to social well-being.

Hello Ditte, thank you for accepting this interview. Let’s start with an introduction for our readers: tell me something about yourself and your major influences in the art field.

Something about myself. Hmm.. Well. I am an artist that admires signature paintings but who never have had the patience to settle for a specific way of working. It is like the neurones in my brain never sit still. Those cells that are responsible for receiving sensory input from the external world, that sends commands to my muscles to perform, they operate differently all the time. I can never count on a specific way of working or a way perceiving my input.

When it comes to starting a project, everyone has a personal method or a personal source for the ideas. Do you have something that suggests you that idea or do you create a precise scheme before getting your hands on a new work?

I always work with content that matters to my life or something that is in the process of defining our life as humans. And no I just go with the impulses. I have a large number of potential directions and ends with a much smaller number of solutions to this field of ideas. Some ideas or material studies are discarded but redescovered in other projects.

I’ve been very fascinated by The Cult of Oxytocin, and the contrast you created by bringing to the public the female reinterpretation of “The Wrestlers”, finds a perfect spot as a representation of the past COVID-19 situation. Many people were struggling during the pandemic. How did you feel during that time, and how the emergency impacted on your creative side on an overall view?

I was not in a state of emergency. I did not believe in the covid-narrative. I still dont. We can talk a lot about this but I find that people get very offended when I do. There is a right and a wrong side of this and people tend to place me in the wrong. However was actually inspired by the way the nationstate were able to create these cults of fear. That led me to create the cult of Oxytocin. Since oxytocin is actually the only possible healer for the human body. I mean for real. The only healer. That is why placebo works. When our bodies are on the path of love and they feel calm, without any emergency, they heals and fights away diseases. When you are in a state of emergency your body is “running away from the tiger” and it doesn’t have time to heal your cold or your building cancer. This is just facts. So why have we created a culture where most people consume the news from all over the world all day? Well. Ask big pharma at its supporters.

The Cult Of Oxytocin by Ditte Ejlerskov at The Nikolaj Kunsthal

I have lived in different countries and have therefore consumed media from different directions simultaneously and I discovered that the “horrible most important new event from somewhere else out in the big world” was one narrative in one country but was never mentions in the news reporting from the other country I was also living in. So I didn’t know of the “horrible event”, why parents were all consumed with but I knew of another “horrible event” elsewhere that they thought was insignificant because they were hooked on the screen to follow the event of the narrative that was presented to them. Situations like these make me so tired.

In The Gateway, which is connected with main concept of The Cult Of Oxytocin, you created a video-installation that works almost as a pain relief for its viewer. Which was the process behind the creation of the video itself? Do you have a moment that in your opinion was the main core of the project?

In The Gateway the powers of Oxytocin and Adrenaline take you on a journey into the battle between love and survival. I created this voice over for myself really. I needed to take charge of my own avatar.

The Gateway video-installation at the Nikolaj Kunsthalle

At Nikolaj Kunsthal the chosen space looked like a huge “chill-zone” for people to enjoy The Gateway. The idea of putting huge carpets on the floor so the viewer could enjoy the video feels very welcoming. Did you decide to do it to re-adapt the space to your needs or it has been always part of the idea from the beginning? And, in general, what is your approach to video- installations?

The Gateway space at the Nikolaj Kunsthalle

I can’t remember really. Everything was up in the air for a while before it settled into this formation. To be honest I was very keen on taken on the entire space of the church so as to let people into this cult like religious space and not let them then walk into another artist’s show upstairs. That would have broken the spell. I wanted this show to be more than art. I wanted it to be instrumental almost. Like a ritual or inauguration into the truth that is to be found within our human bodies.

Now let’s get back to The Cult Of Oxytocin. The constant fight you represented between Adrenalin and Oxytocin, can be viewed in AR thanks to a QR code your installed at Nikolaj Kunsthal, but can also be looked at in real life, thanks to the huge carpet on the walls and the little statues that works as a dimensional overview of the ongoing conflict. The carpets, in particular, highlight the details of both characters. Why did you opted for this choice of representation?

And I can tell you a secret that I have come to think of as perhaps a feminist strategy. When I was to exhibit at Nikolaj Kunsthal, a huge old church which is now a kunsthalle, I was told that there was no budget for building walls and that the existing church walls were culturally listed so we couldn’t use them really. When I get a “no go” it is almost like a “go” for me. I began researching how to get large scale images into the kunsthalle without using the walls. Many detours and a lot of testing later I arranged a collaboration with a company called Dansk Wilton that makes woven wool carpets. I have worked with weaving before and the solution to make huge carpets was ideal. The plan was to hang them as walls and the project film on the backsides. The show ended up quite different from those initial ideas but the process of working with the carpets began in a search for solutions to a “no”.

The Wrestler by Ditte Ejlerskov in AR at Nikolaj Kunsthalle – Video credit: Naji

That said I had already been working with prints, NFTs and paintings with these motives prior to hidding the wall, so I would perhaps have come to a similar solution had I not been pressured. I just thought it would just be interesting also to let your readers into some of the processes that are very manual and budget related too. My show looks very coherent and “right in place” but it is the result of many compromises and tought decisions of course, like any shows. Artists must always be very flexible and follow what is possible instead of getting stuck with ideas we only see one solution to.

The Goddess Of Oxytocin, as you described it, is the one that gives us the love hormone, which the human being search as inner body process that involves regaining control over our own blood. Now, in my mind, this process is deeply connected with the Gradients you exhibited in the Saint Nicholas Church. Are these colorful paintings a visual representation of the path to follow in order to release the Oxytocin?

Yes I began painting them a few years back in and in particular when I was pregnant with my second child. My work became more focused around the more formal aspects inside my practice, represented in the show by this series of large-format hand-painted colour gradients. These works pose as healing and slightly vibrating – as chromotherapy if you will. As you might have guessed I often look with interest to processes of healing that are not found in the pharmacy of western medicine. Chromotherapy’s effects were discussed as early as in 1025 in the “Persian Canon of Medicine”, and methodologically consist of the use of light in the form of color to balance the lacking energy in a person’s body – on physical, emotional, spiritual and mental levels. In my practice this claim is an ongoing investigation.

Dream Gradient (Reddish Fuchsia Meets Dusty Emerald), Ditte Ejlerskov, 2022

I feel like I have been in the process of cleansing my practice from external inspiration such as mainstream culture, politics, general negativity, fear and expectation related input. Perhaps that is why the Covid story never really got to me. I was just busy working and dealing with my daily life. I live in the countryside so I guess I was lucky too that I didn’t really experience my life being locked down as people in the cities experienced. To be clear, I am very aware and concerned that people have suffered during covid. I am aware that some were very sick from the pandemic too but the big issue now is how we recover as a species from all the damage the restrictions have done. The fear we envoked in our kids and youth in particular is a game changer for our lives in the future. The economy might be able to start over in a brand new form but what about all the souls that damaged now..?

You also designed some physical cards to redeem a unique NFT. What is the purpose of the NFT project? And what are your thoughts about NFT as a contemporary artist?

The Gateway (POAP)

The Gateway (POAP) is a series of uniquely numbered NFTs represented by a physical embossed certificate. Only if you received a physical numbered embossed certificate at Nikolaj Kunsthal in Denmark, you can mint your POAP (proof of attendance protocol) NFT on the xDai chain via your personal link on the card. The opportunity for blockchain ownership is open until June 1st 2022. After this date no more NFTs will be issued from the physically numbered certificates and the final NFT edition number will be revealed at my site.

So why crypto art..? Crypto currency is about sharing. So is the NFT space no matter what pfp enthusiasts might try to tell you. I agree 99.9% of the these NFT projects are not interesting. They are embarrassing! But so are many paintings in the world…

There is not a lot of use-cases right now for Blockchain technology. It is the Wild West still. But remember.. so it must have felt with web1 too. The early internet developers and new businesses in the mid 90ies that tried to find ways to use the technology. Web2 made the internet more graspable with social media. But web3..? We still don’t get it… About 2,5 % of people are curious and try to figure out how things work. The technology adoption curve might be steeper this time but luckily you have me to play with the beast even through it is not tamed yet.

In the near future I predict that real estate papiers, drivers licences , car registration, money (😱) – everything that requires ownership – will be tokenised. My NFT rant is of course part of a larger crypto rant since our money system is on the verge of collapse. 40% of all us printed money was printed last year.. This means hyperinflatio and quantitative easing.. Quantitative easing is an occasionally used monetary policy, which is adopted by the government to increase money supply in the economy in order to further increase lending by commercial banks and spending by consumers. I think it is time we seriously look into the alternatives…

Last question. Since the start of your career in 2003 you gained a lot of experience. Do you have a piece of this experience that you want to share with some of the budding artists who just started in this field?

Oh guess I have a lot of advise really but the one that is stuck with me these days is that “a no” should always be turned into your advance like the in case of my wool carpets. I never get things served on a silver platter, I always work my way through. Many people do not have the patience for that. So I guess, get rid of pride and limiting believes. Easy right? Haha. No but always ask for the things you want. Do not sit and wait. Unless someelse has your back. Then do that, of course.

If you ask you might get a no but most often you get a “aah I don’t know” or “perhaps later”. These responses are not so important. 2 years from now there will be a groups show and the person you approached in the past just remember you or your art and might include you. There is no little black book of shame that your approaches will be noted in.

Also the concept of speaking into existence is great source of power. The more you speak and sketch, the more the path that is laid before you changes and forms to your aim and fits you in the end… fits what is doable for you. My advise will be to have a lot of these aims open and in progress. From time to time you experience a finished path and you walk it really easily. By then there is no struggle, no tension, almost no emotion anymore. And you are on the other side. The mission is accomplished… The walk took 5 seconds. The fun is not walking this path. The fun is seeing it evolve. Helping it. Forming it. LeNng it form you. Therefore; have many such paths under development all the time so that you do not end up on the other side not knowing where to go.. Advise from a workaholic I guess. 🙂

Poster of the exhibit at the Nikolaj Kunsthalle – Photo credit: Naji
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