In his embroidery works Hans Hamid Rasmussen pictures the experience of belonging – or rather of not belonging – somewhere. With a point of departure in his own multicultural back¬ground he reflects on moving from one place to another. He investigates the connection between memory and his childhood home in Algeria, and what happens when one set of cultural codes is mixed with or replaced by a new one.
In the work Secret talks downtown from Alger city from 2005 a range of motifs are mixed with abstract patterns and forms: women with headscarves, cars, animals, groups of men meeting under the trees, and boys playing football. The motifs are scattered, and hover like disconnected patches over the white background of the textile. In fragments, they visualize a narrative of childhood in Algeria, but they also express something universal about cultural identity and the experience of losing it. As viewers we attempt to gather the various motifs into a common story, because they are on the same piece of cloth. In this way we repeat the process that the artist himself undergoes in his attempt to create cohesion from the fragments of memory.
Hans Hamid Rasmussen came at the age of seven from Algeria to Norway with his Norwegian mother and Algerian father, and replaced his native French with Norwegian. At the same time a number of the family’s everyday habits were changed and adjusted to the new culture. But what significance does it have to lose one’s language and replace it with another? And what does it mean for the identity and personal memory? These questions run through the artist’s works.
In his work with embroidery Hamid Rasmussen exploits several aspects of this classic craft to comment on themes like identity, cultural affiliation, and memory. In the series Homage to the Hybrid from 2008 he uses cotton textiles as the staring-point for his embroideries. We know the textiles from our everyday life – we use them for sheets, curtains, and tablecloths. Our use of them reflects traditions, rituals, commu¬nities, and habits. Finally, the work with embroidery is viewed in the western countries as a female occupation, while the execution of large textiles is associated in the North African context with men. By virtue of his own dual Norwegian-Algerian identity Hans Hamid Rasmussen breaks with the usual notions of the feminine and masculine and turns the focus on the frameworks within which we under¬stand the world around us.