Nuuk Art Museum’s collection includes 14 lithographs of Sermitsiaq by Anne-Birthe Hove (1951-2012). They are from the year of 2000 and were part of the decoration of the former Hotel Nuuk, owned by Svend Junge. The decoration included additionally three large copper plates called “Night Ravens” – which are now a part of Nuuk Art Museum’s collection – a large surface of sandblasted glass, which, as far as we know, no longer exists, as well as ornaments of copper which surrounded the columns in the entrance of the former hotel lobby and bar. The copper ornaments are still to be found in the entrance hall of the former Hotel Nuuk, which now has become student housing. These pieces of art became a whole – sort of an installation which divided and completed the room, as well as it gave the room a certain atmosphere.
The mountain Sermitsiaq is an icon which enthrones Nuuk – and from Nuuk, the mountain has its own specific shape. This shape is the logo of both Kommuneqarfik Sermersooq and the newspaper Sermitsiaq/AG. It is on postcards and city maps. It is a landmark, which has been pictured again and again, and has repeatedly found its way into the arts.
Every Sunday at 10 A.M. for a whole year, Anne-Birthe Hove photographed Sermitsiaq from the same spot. By the graphic technique photogravure – when photo is transferred onto a treated copper plate, which after being washed and etched can give prints using color inks – ABH pressed the mountain in different colors onto cotton canvases. Sermitsiaq is shown – some with snow, some without, and some with clouds some with a clear sky, and in different formations. Some of the photographs are similar with different color inks. The color differences have the effect of a beaming light show, but where the motive remains the same, as by a traffic light which changes colors.
A large part of Anne-Birthe Hove’s motives are from Greenland. In an interview in the art and culture magazine Neriusaaq 3/2005 she says, that the cooperation between artist and country goes both ways: “As artists, we are invariably influenced by the country and the landscape that we live in. But we also conquer it. Art prevails because it conquers the world”.
In this series, ABH concours something physically massive – the mountain Sermitsiaq – but also something immaterial; the logo, the landmark, and the symbol Sermitsiaq. The following years, she continued working with Sermitsiaq in a series of graphic works, where buildings, cranes, and the town is getting mixing up with with the mountain, and where photogravure is mixing up with other graphic techniques. The image series can be seen as a paraphrase on Nuuk’s landmark, as Lene Therkildsen writes in Neriusaaq 2/2005, where Anne-Birthe Hove at the same time is challenges and provokes the mountains symbolic meaning. Sermitsiaq becomes the repetition of the motive and the retelling in many different colors and construction; something that is changeable – and something that isn’t massive and untouchable.
This repetition and rewriting of the mountain and symbol Sermitsiaq is simultaneously a picture of how Anne-Birthe Hove did her work. She explored, repeated, and immersed herself through all of her artistic work in different graphic techniques. She began working with photogravure through the 1990s. In that same period, her former professor from the Art Academy developed new techniques within this particular medium. His pioneer work including his graphic techniques inspired her to work in a similar direction.
Eli Ponsaing thought of his graphic work within microcosm and macrocosm — not in a particular religious meaning, but as a process of contemplation within the graphic possibilities and expressions. This tension between the large and the small world is also experienced in Anne-Birthe Hove’s Sermitsiaq series. She zooms in and repeats an element just link it into a larger perspective, or she focuses on the detail — the mountain’s physical appearance week after week — to assemble the whole, the mountain’s immaterial placement and importance.
The Sermitsiaq series on canvas can also just be experienced as a blinking light show, once part of a hotel lobby and bar, where the repetition becomes the story and the color becomes the humor.
The retrospective exhibition “Anne-Birthe Hove 1951-2012” – which is a cooperation between curator Rikke Diemer, Nordatlantisk Brygge, the Art Museum of Bornholm and widower of Anne-Birthe Hove, Thomas Steensgaard – is exhibited at Nuuk Art Museum until July 10th 2016. Here, one can experience a larger selection of the Sermitsiaq series. The exhibition is supported by Royal Arctic Line and Tips- og Lottomidlerne.
In the fall of 2016, a large anthology about Anne-Birthe Hove will be published by Milik Publishing.
Catalogues and more information about Anne-Birthe Hove is found at Nuuk Art Museum.