Touch Me Not (2021)

Sculpture / Temporary Public Monument, 60x60x75cm
Marinen Park, Trondheim
Group Show Prosjekt 2021
Backed by NTNU Helse, Trondheim Kommune & Midtbyen Management

A massive cube of soap is placed on a secluded recess in front of Olavskilden fountain. Comfortably cushioned in the lush green of the park, the scent is strong, and it invites to inspect, to engage and to deliberate; it smells like it cleans, but is it safe to touch? Like all the phenomena that have gotten new meanings in the wake of the pandemic: every day, we must deliberate whether we are being cautious enough, distanced enough, clean enough.

How do you express the loss of freedom to explore, to experience, to connect?
How does one represent what has ravaged the routines of our daily lives and restricted us to our bubbles?

On one hand, the visitor is being invited to wash their hands in public with soap, a new universality of the times. But the society also tells them not to touch, and therein lies the question: Is this something dangerous?
Must we distance ourselves from yet another object that we used to relate to with comfortable abandon?
Soap as material stands for transience and depletion, and this impermanence of the substance intrinsically negotiates with the complex circumstances that shape it. And so a soap becomes a mirror for the audience to reflect on in the context of ongoing cultural paradigms, a meditation object. The location feels intimate, it is the touching spot. With the running water of Olavskilden, one can really wash their hands. So, some people will do the opposite of what is expected: they will touch it, and they will change it.

Its final shape will have encoded on its surface the complexity of all the events that took place during its lifetime.

Excerpts from Distanced Unveiling live video stream
Watch full video here

Observing temporality is a big part of this work. The soap looks solid but wears down quickly. The weather elements gnaw at it. Smell and color fade.

But the location is perfectly secluded, a great spot for touching.

Some do break the rules.
Their wet fingers polish the cube's surface and take away the edges.

Their sharp knives cut into it and steal the pieces. They carve in insults and beautiful flowers and runes.

This poetic dance between the decay of the sculpture and the meditation of the audience is what the work is about.

How ‘Touch Me Not’ transformed throughout 3 months of exhibition

Prosjekt 2021 is an initiative by Trondheim Kommune and NTNU Helse that presents five temporary public artworks in different sites across Midtbyen in Trondheim. Based on the effects of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Prosjekt 2021 also includes contributions from NTNU researchers.

It was open to the public from June through August 2021.

03.09.2021 ArtsceneTrondheim, Hanna Malene Lindberg - Kunst i koronaomgivelser
23.07.2021 Adresseavisen - Et 200 kilos såpestykke er plantet i Trondheim sentrum denne sommeren
06.07.2021 Reddit - Anyone know why there is a large block of soap at Marinen?
17.06.2021 Facebook - Er det noen som vet hva dette er og hvorfor det står der?
11.06.2021 Subjekt, Oda Sofie Gallefoss - Derfor stiller hun ut 200 kilo såpe i Trondheim sentrum
NTNU Prosjekt 2021
NTNU Prosjekt 2021 / Touch Me Not
NTNU Prosjekt 2021 / Curatorial Statement
NTNU Five Public Art Projects in Midtbyen