Marie Kølbæk Iversen

Neo-worlds: Transformative Agency through Fright, Rite, and Myth 

Kunsthøgskolen i Oslo, Kunstakademiet

Oslo National Academy of the Arts, Academy of Fine Art 

Viva voce:

11 May 2023



Maria Lind
Line Dalsgård


Assessment committee:

Dan Ringaard, professor Aarhus ( (chair)
Dora Garcia, professor KHiO (1.opponent)
Andjeas Ejiksson | HIAP(2.opponent)


The artistical doctoral result is available in English in the Oslo National Academy of the Arts' institutional archive KHIODA


Neo-worlds: Transformative Agency through Fright, Rite, and Myth

With my doctoral project Neo-worlds: Transformative Agency through Fright, Rite, and Myth I have traced the power of rite and active mythic thinking to resignify modern experiences of fright, from barren and isolating experiences to potential sources of learning and transformation. The project employs my own near-death experience in childbirth as a case to explore how ritual action and active mythic thinking might serve to mend the gap instilled by fright between frightened subjects and their surroundings. Similarly, the project investigates how active mythic thinking may equally operate on the levels of society and culture to generate collective other-becoming beyond modernity’s organisation of humanity and nature.

In the autumn of 2022, the project culminated in the exhibition Rovhistorier | Histories of Predation at O – Overgaden (Aug-Oct 2022), which focused on the shapeshifting figure of the mermaid or -man in the dissident mythic heritages of the peri-Atlantic regions, among them the Jutlandic West Coast. Imaginarily appropriating the predatory gaze of the Atlantic gurry shark—in Danish: the ‘havkal,’ i.e. merman—the exhibition performed the human desire to know and negotiate with obliging forces across distant locations in time and space. The exhibition also featured my performance of West Jutlandic 'merpeople songs' in the context of my Donnimaar-project, which is based on the commons-based music inheritance from my great-great-great-great-grandparents, who in 1873 were the ethnographic subjects of folklore collector Evald Tang Kristensen.