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Maria Pasenau (23) and Matias Kiil (23) are both figures in the fresh and accessible art scene in Oslo, Norway. The two are close friends but their art practice is distinct in significant ways: Maria is more serious in her approach and tends to work with subjects more, while Matias often chooses to work with objects and he looks for humour. We explore the early stages of their artistry — in their own words.

Edited by Robin Douglas Westling Words Felicia Granath Photography Laris Rasidovic

Oslo, Norway

Let’s start with how you met. When did you become friends?

MATIAS – We met at Rod Bianco, a gallery in Oslo. We knew each other from Instagram but hadn’t met until we were at the same exhibition and you came running over to me there. We ended up talking for a long time. I texted Maria afterwards and asked if she could take some photos of the project I was working on. She came over to the school in the middle of the night and we shared a six pack of beer. That was about two and a half years ago.

What do you do as artists?

MARIA — I’m working with photography, sculpture and text.

MATIAS — I have a pretty broad praxis that I incorporate in different mediums. My main focus is sculpture and writing. I also sometimes paint. With sculpture, you work with materials that already have a physical presence. To paint on a canvas, on the other hand, is extremely terrifying as you’re facing the blankest surface of all. You’re confronted with other problems than if you would be working with a sculpture.

What do you think of each other’s work?

MATIAS — I admire Maria’s ability to not give a fuck. Maria’s photography has this energy that will hit you in your face — unlike a lot of other photo art that’s difficult to appreciate as it can be so boring. I think especially with photography, it’s easy to see an image and accept it right away. Torbjørn Rødland is an interesting photographer as well, his way of composing his images is almost sculptural. I also feel like Maria is doing that, just somewhat differently.

MARIA — I like Matias’ work because I feel like it’s very playful, while also elegant; minimalistic with a concise meaning. I think most art is really boring too, but Matias’ work is playful. All the things he does, whether it’s painting, sculpture, writing or something else, you can see that it’s Matias’ work.

What is the biggest challenge you face when you’re creating?

MATIAS — Starting. When a project’s finished and you have to come up with something new I go crazy. That’s why I’m trying to get better at working with different projects simultaneously. Even though everything about making art is hard, I wouldn’t like to do anything else. So, I’m basically fucked if it doesn’t work out.

MARIA — With photography, I always agonise as I’m about to start. I have all these thoughts that I can’t do it, I feel stressed out and think to myself that no one will like it. When I do sculpture I already feel like such a noob anyways so I don’t really care. I’m much more relaxed painting, or doing sculptures, than taking photos. But I am happy to be done with things though, so I can start new projects.

I want to talk about the photo book ‘Whit Kind Regrets’ you’re about to release Maria. Do you want to introduce the project yourself ?

MARIA — The book features photographs that have never before been published or posted anywhere, from a time period of three years. It has a lot of pictures of Matias. It’s similar to a diary in the way you see how things develop. It’s basically a documentation of my life in 350 pages. A documentation of youth.

Your posts on Instagram Maria are often removed and today your account was taken down. Your photography is constantly being censored online. What does having your work published physically mean to you?

MARIA — I like it much better. The reason I love photography is because you take a photo and it captures just that millisecond. You can’t change it after that. It’s not scary to post a naked picture on Instagram because you can’t turn me around and peek from a different angle. It’s only the image I present that you can see. That’s what I like with the book too.

What’s the narrative of the book?

MARIA — I think it’s best described in the poetry that’s in the start and the end of the book. ”The freedom of youth, the youth of freedom. What did we do? We lived we loved we ran we laughed, we act like wild animals. Animals of the future. Dumb, dumb youth. YOLO people. Doing the things you only can do when you’re young. The dream, you may say. Don’t tell me something, I’ll do the opposite. I was never gonna fade. I was free. I found love. I found my future, future found me. Youth found me”.

”Youth, I pick you like a flower. Your colours are filled with joy danger regret love blood sex and alcohol. Your taste is long and sweet. Your look is fearless and you have torns that sticks. You look as everyone that comes. I can smell you, you smell free”.

Is youth a theme that you both use in your art?

MATIAS — I think it’s more like that for you Maria, than it is for me. I don’t think youth has been a theme in my art-work ever — I just happen to be 23 and am making art. My authorship comes from who I am, and there’s no escaping that of course. If being young makes me a part of youth culture, then I don’t mind, but it has never been important to me in my work.

What do you think constitutes youth culture?

MARIA — I feel like the years you have when you’re young, that’s when you are free to do so much. You’re trying to find yourself. I believe that’s what my book also documents. I am starting to feel more and more common now. I don’t feel like I have to go out anymore, I can just be home — because I know who I am. I am not as stressed by missing things. I feel like I’ve been to my share of things and don’t have to be there anymore, like I’ve done my research.