Noora Schroderus: Camouflage


Noora Schroderus’ delicate boxing gloves knock out expectations based on appearance.

A pair of floral-pattern boxing gloves hang on a pale pink satin ribbon against the wall. The form of Noora Schroderus’ artwork Camouflage (2016) refers to the violence allowed in the name of sport and calls to mind images from the macho culture presented in the Rocky films starred by Sylvester Stallone. At first sight it seems that the gloves ashamed tried to disguise their violent nature in the prudish rose patterns of the tapestry cloth’s surface. A question arises, whether this is about cruelty encrusted in middle-class decency and embellishments? Or is it, after all, a feministic weapon to crush patriarchy disguised harmless in sweet camouflage made of cloth from grandmother’s rococo sofa and satin ribbon suited for little girls’ princess games?

Soft feminine materials are not just a deceiving cover but an essential part of the work’s substance: the tapestry cloth or the down used as padding of gloves cannot take hits at all. Maybe the title of the work refers to the gloves’ form which reminds us of violence and which Schroderus has used in sowning her delicate materials. Could it be that it is all about hiding one’s feather-soft soul to the safety under a threatening appearance?

Playing with materials and meanings as well as challenging expectations related to various roles and power structures are typical features in Noora Schroderus oeuvre. A sculptor graduated from the Academy of Visual Arts in 2014, Noora Schroderus promotes in her oeuvre textile materials and craft techniques conceived feminine as well as a small size as though a counteract to the masculine tradition and heroic scale. In her Bank Note Series (2014–) Schroderus for example challenges the viewer to consider the value of money and artistic work by embroidering on bank notes of various countries. In many countries this illegal intervention made the bank notes worthless as currency but gave them a new value as artworks.

Schroderus’ small scale conceptual artworks were on show at Serlachius Museum Gösta in her private exhibition Feminine Sensibility (14 May–4 September 2016) in which many artworks questioned the prevailing values and judgments. Embroidered by Schroderus on US dollar bills, the hair pieces converted the statesmen presented on the bank notes into Disney Princesses that are suggested as idols of young girls: Abraham Lincoln became Cinderella (2016) and George Washington turned into Snow White (2016)

Consisting of human hair, Hairy Herbarium (2014–2016), consequently, awakens the viewer to explore their relation to human body and standards of beauty: where and on who’s body may and should there be hair? For the work, Schroderus gathered people’s bodily hair from different part of their body and embroidered and felted them into plant-themed works. The result is a collection of delicately beautiful plant forms whose naturally intimate material at same time captivated and sickened the audience.

The sculptural form of Camouflage differs from other works that were acquired to the Serlachius Museums Art Collection from Schroderus’ exhibition Feminine sensibility. The common feature in them as well as Schroderus’ subsequent works on show at the collection exhibition Morning Coffee on the Roof of a Town (5 Nov 2022–16 Apr 2023) is playing with meaning and material in a way that challenges the expectations of the viewer. If the paradoxical boxing gloves are able to knock something out, it is the expectations based on appearance as well as conventional meanings vested upon forms and materials. 

Petra Lehtoruusu

Noora Schroderus Puhetta nykytaiteesta (Talk about Art) podcast (in Finnish):
Kuurne, Laura, 2022: ”Noora Schroderus, Hairy Herbarium” in the book Six Glimpses into a Collection. Works from Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundations Contemporary Art Collection. Editor: Sivonen, Pauli. Parvs, 2022.

Artist’s website:

Noora Schroderus, Camouflage, 2016, tapestry cloth, flannel, brass, down, satin ribbon, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation. Photo: Sampo Linkoneva.
Noora Schroderus, Camouflage, 2016, tapestry cloth, flannel, brass, down, satin ribbon, Gösta Serlachius Fine Arts Foundation. Photo: Sampo Linkoneva.