UNconventional: Magnhild Kennedy
Aishwarya Kaur

UNconventional: Magnhild Kennedy

Unmasking the bounds of creativity with her visually opulent designs, Magnhild Kennedy has been crafting decorative facial masks and headgear wonders. Read on to know more.

UNconventional by FTC is a series exploring creators, designers and artists expressing unique, thought-provoking perspectives of socio-cultural and global significance through their craft. These creators stray away from the conventions and norms of everyday ideas and give them a new meaning through their otherworldly creativity.

Spearheading the genre of surreal facial and head accessories is the creator Magnhild Kennedy, aka Damselfrau. Known for her supremely surreal handcrafted masks and headgears, Kennedy’s work has been ruling the arena of revolutionary Avant Garde accessories.

Niitinn by Damselfrau
Niitinn by DamselfrauDamselfrau

Born and brought up in Norway amidst a family of artists, Kennedy’s interaction with creativity began at an early age. Being a part of the creative community back home, the exposure and hands-on experiences shaped her interest towards making “something”.

As a child, Kennedy enjoyed making paper dolls. Converting a flat object into something that has volume and life has always been one of her favourite things to do, which she believes has transcended into her mask making process, as well.

Kennedy moved to London at the age of 20, where she started working at a vintage design store that sold pieces of fine craftsmanship. Her weekends involved trips to thrift shops and used goods markets, introducing her to all kinds of materials of decoration, fashion, utility and much more. She also learnt the skill of stitching and sewing from an encyclopedia and YouTube videos.

Melts by Damselfrau
Melts by Damselfrau

Kennedy’s first mask came into existence when she was prepping an outfit for a party, and explorations finally led to the creation of a mask. After the first stepping stone, there was no looking back, and hence began the legacy of Damselfrau’s iconic facemasks and headgears.

Virpir by Damselfrau
Virpir by Damselfrau

Unlike certain creative whiz's out there, Kennedy’s designs do not follow a concrete, step-wise process stemming from a specific thought. Driven by the simple thought of just creating, the artist’s work is the most accurate representation of the phrase ‘going with the flow’.

Starting with collecting material and roughly assembling and coordinating pieces together, Kennedy strives to find balance in all her materials, based on how they interact with each other. The artist works towards establishing perfect visual balance with the least amount of decision-making and trusting her creative instinct.

"I feel like I’m decorating a space, more than just making a mask."

-Magnhild Kennedy for Yatzer

With heavy responsibility on the material to make or break a piece, Kennedy is extremely experimental and bold with her choices. Collecting material pieces from exhibitions, second hand stores and other multiple retail options. The artist also scavenges grocery packagings, relying on her personal wardrobe and her husband's photo studio to shoot properly. One can see a multivariate use of pompoms and fringes in her work, showing a rather interesting take on the play of texture, colour and volume.

Just like her masks and other creations, Kennedy’s way of showcasing and representing her art is quite creative and thought oriented as well. As mentioned before, the artist goes by the name “Damselfrau” on her website and social media and chooses meticulously planned self-portraits to showcase her work.

Armaa by Damselfrau
Armaa by Damselfrau

What sounds like just another quirky username, actually paints a rather elaborate picture of Kennedy’s relationship with herself, where Damsel is a connotation used to define a single woman, and frau symbolizes a married lady. The combined use of the words implicate the feeling of being “married with oneself” for Kennedy, stressing on one’s relationship with themselves and how it brings out an overplay with the personality.

Damselfrau for Cactus Magazine
Damselfrau for Cactus Magazine

With work that is larger than life, it is next to impossible for the pieces to not catch anyone’s eye. Various magazines such as l'Officiel Argentina, Vogue Portugal, Cactus Magazine, to name a few, have featured the creator’s work in topical narratives and editorials across issues.

Damselfrau for Vogue Portugal
Damselfrau for Vogue Portugal

Musicians like Beyonce, Baloji and many more have featured Damselfrau's custom masks in their music videos and promos. Along with the digital exhibition on her website and social media, the artist displays her work in a large number of exhibitions and video installations as well.

Mimir by Damselfrau
Mimir by Damselfrau

Damselfrau's surreal expression of her creativity not only adds to the classification and essence of art around us, but also enables a visibly elaborate, non-generic and boundary-free medium of expression. Take a closer look at the artist's work on her website and Instagram page.

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