Currently on a mini tour of the US, where he is performing his unique and celebrated brand of electronica in a few major cities, Kim Hiorthøy is one of the busiest and most sought-after of Norwegian artists.
This is not least due to his extreme versatility, which is evident in his activities’ spanning music, design, film, and visual arts as well as writing. Seemingly unconstrained he manifests sheer superfluity, and, though uniquely creative, his limitlessness is representative of a new breed of artists who – as a consequence of the technological revolution regarding techniques and procedures for the substantialisation of artistic ideas- have taken control of most of the artistic process themselves. This enables them to merge and blend expressions, defy the demands and machinations of institutions and industry, and contribute in a panoply of areas.
Having first made himself noticed within the composite field of visual arts, and primarily as graphic designer and illustrator –winning praise for his by now classic art-work for Norwegian band Motorpsycho and labels Rune Grammofon and Smalltown Supersound- he only subsequently moved on to music and then with an approach different from that of most musicians.
But his command of this language of expression; his subtle taste for it and his genius low-key gestures, has won him acclaim from the most selective of musical critics. His 2002 album Melke is a rare gem of electronica and has achieved classical status among fans and critics alike. His latest musical outing, 2004's Live Shet EP, was also given much attention and the revues were unanimous in their emphasis on the uniqueness of Hiorthøys music; always full of surprises and with a trademark lightness.
So music has indeed become an enduring point of focus for Hiorthøy, who nevertheless maintains, and even continues to expand his range of expression.
On a given day Hiorthøy may exhibit drawings in London, video art in Bergen while performing live music in Seattle.
What is noteworthy in the case of Hiorthøy is that he is not an ageing artist who has spent years and years to achieve the recognition and fame traditionally conditional for simultaneous exhibitions and performances around the world. Quite on the contrary, he is still young, without a huge apparatus at his disposal, at not in possession of the resources or fame normally needed to operate on the global stage the way he is.
The other remarkable trait of Hiorthøy is the quality of his every endeavour. Regardless of genre, technique and audience his art seems to always reach the level which one might think required dedication to a singular expression, a level thus seemingly unachievable for someone as versatile and productive as Hiorthøy.
But almost without exception all his outings have been received extremely favourably, both home and abroad, and he is by now ackowledged in the most disparate of camps in the world of music and art.
Hiorthøy is indeed special and he exemplifies the output-potential artists of his creative calibre have now that the thresholds for this output are being worn down, chiefly by technology, but, as a function of that, and even more importantly, also in terms of the reshuffling and restructuring of the institutions and channels that bring art to publicity.
Because of such wells of creative superfluity which Hiorthøy represents, the whole reality of public exhibition and performance is changing: What used to be a realm of limited access, exclusiveness and the dominance of major players -regarding artists, institutions and the corporate aspects of art- is turning into a true limitless manifold.
The ailments (and subsequent fragmentation) of a few huge entities -which opens up for a drizzle of small, sound and diverse ones- is becoming true in all businesses.
Regarding art, Hiorthøy is one of those who both contribute to this development, by largely liberating themselves from dependence on the established structures and machinations of the art world, and at the same time -in virtue of their sheer superfluity and diverse output- take full advantage of the new landscape which makes possible global, albeit (hitherto) small-scale, activity and exposure.