Ingen Frygt (Without Fear) is the name of the collective consciousness of the artists Anna María Helgadóttir, Hannah Heilmann and Sigrun Gúdbrandsdóttir.
Ingen Frygt was invited to Sa Pa in North Vietnam by Hanoi Future Arts to meet with Giang Thi Chi, Giang Thi Say, Ly Thi Za & Lyly Thi, four women of the Black H’Mong mountain tribe, and together make an art project. Having worked extensively with an aesthetic that draws upon exoticism, Ingen Frygt were eager to confront preconceptions and the self-centred programming of their work with a culture that could be expected to be fundamentally different. What does Self look like in a culture believing everything has a soul, and does it affect concepts of gender, of art, of channelling and of material? However the project was lead by other kinds of urgencies, namely the visible and invisible hierarchies inbetween cultures: the relation between the tourists in Sa Pa and the tribe people there, as well as certain romanticisms of the art world. Being from each their tribe within in a bigger tribe - the little art tribe of Ingen Frygt within the big art tribe, and the Black H’Mong people, one of several mountain tribes and a minority in Vietnam - the seven women decided to form their own tribe. For two weeks and ongoing they were living together, making clothes, forming rituals and establishing social rules for the new tribe. The unification happened in glimpses, as when dancing to techno at the local bar up in Sa Pa in full makeup and tribe costume, or in general, when the excitement of using ourselves to create pictures took over. But there were differences too. The Black H’Mong women when constructing their clothes would be playing with subtle references, hardly noticeble for an outsider – appropriating male clothing, or ‘forbidden’ colours and symbols from other tribes, whereas Ingen Frygt would be picturing their inner longing to be something more fantastic, or living out the artist’s ever luring feeling of being a colourful bird on display. Also, whereas the H’Mong girls seemed to have a profound understanding of the essence of the project, other parts remained confusing.
Following the exhibition Cheeky Money Lucky Mountain, Black Frygt H’Mong also appeared in a group show at Hanoi Future Arts about women in Vietnam, called Bao Luc (violence), with a video documenting a ritual vaguely resembling local Buddhist traditions, in which they loudly sob and burn money. This depressed, yet comical video questions how exchange between cultures sometimes seem to, a little to easily, boil down to trade and money – what are the objectives of the different tribe members? Is it easier to finance an art project by playing on a Western feeling of guilt towards less developed countries? And what’s the interest of four young women, with scarce knowledge about doing art as a career, in participating in a Western art project?
Ingen Frygt wished to examine the performative nature of making art collectively. What began in 2001 as an art group gradually densified into an autonomous and uncontrolled fourth persona. As a last gesture the members of Ingen Frygt were attempting to turn over these speculations in more concrete explorations, submitting themselves to collective work with other collectives. The project with the Black H’Mong women was part of these last strivings. Since 2010 Ingen Frygt has been void of members.
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