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Neo-worlds: the transformative potentialities of fright

PhD Candidate Marie Kølbæk Iversen's doctoral project

Academic summary

With this artistic research project I set out to investigate how the immanent collectivity of ritual and active mythic thought work to activate and process fright’s transformative potential for the individual and the community s/he is part of, and further: How this transformative potentiality may signify if employed and enacted in a contemporary Western setting informed by modern epistemology.

The project is theoretically based on contemporary reformulations of Claude Lévi-Strauss’ seminal study of mythology (Gow, Viveiros de Castro, Kohn, Cesarino, Reynolds), which in this project—and with the Greek-Roman Io-myth as introductory case-study—is experimentally turned into the ‘lens’ through which to regard and activate the covert mythologies of the modern West. The artistic outcome of the project is hinged on a dialogue, facilitated through non/modern myth and ritual, with the apocalyptic fright that is inspired by the manifold crises of Now, and the intelligence it may lend to us—which speaks to us obscurely: Time and the Universe are infinite. There will be a day after the apocalypse, but no one knows what it will look like. Yet the frightened may begin to imagine.


“Learn to fear. To share fear is the greatest bond of all.” (J. A. Baker: The Peregrine (New York: The New York Review of Books, 2005), p. 13)


Research questions:

How does fright work as an agent of radical transformation, and how does active mythic thought facilitate this agency?

How may a mythic view on fright and its transformative potentiality signify if employed and enacted in a contemporary Western setting informed by modern epistemology?

Project facts

Project title Neo-worlds: the transformative potentialities of fright
Project manager Marie Kølbæk Iversen
Oslo National Academy of the Arts
Start date
End date
Project status Concluded
Department Academy of Fine Art
  1. Autumn equinox celebration
  2. Water from the Waist Down