Do you relate to that feeling of creating something that is important to you personally, but then seems too insignificant to share? Today I realised the resemblance between two works I never shared for that reason, one from 2018 and the other from 2020, and decided to do so anyway.
The first work is called "Resistance of Geometrical Authority". It was the result of an assignment for which I had to make something out of an A4 paper within 15 minutes, pencil optional. Not feeling like either drawing, folding or tearing, I found this type of assignment frustrating, but working from that frustration provided a gateway to not trying too hard. As such I decided to knead the paper for the duration of the assignment. “I kept on kneading the paper until it got a fabric-like feel to it. I noticed how the fragility of the paper changed.”, I wrote in the journal I kept at the time.
Two years later I created "Childhood Aspiration", in reaction to a recurring memory. When I was a child I was given a set of coloured pens to draw with, and because I wanted to draw on a green paper while only white paper was available, I began to fill it in with the green pen. Before I could finish, the pens were taken away from me. The adult who had gifted them judged what I set out to do as wasteful, and told me that apparently it was a mistake to think that I was grown up enough to handle the pens. In a family in which art and design held importance, I experienced my creativity denied. Now, about 20 years later I bought the exact same kind of pen and I freed myself by completing the aspiration of creating a green paper.
These works share the formal quality of being an alteration of an A4 paper, and the title of the former work could have suited the latter. Both resist an authority, being it expectations (my own) regarding an assignment or expectations (my father's) regarding the drawing of a child. Both works have significantly affected my way of thinking and my behaviour; my personality. Where the experience in my childhood made me fearful of wasting something precious, the assignment I got to experience 18 years later signified the start of breaking away from carefully overthinking an action before (not) doing it. Though this trait is likely to remain a part of me, by finishing my monochrome drawing, I have given myself permission to diverge from it.
At the begining of this year, curator Mark Andersson asked me to exhibit my piece Shower Head, at Nora Art's yearly group exhibition. The exhibition, called Svensk Konst Nu! (Swedish Art Now!), claims contemporary Swedish art is not only made and shown in the larger towns of Sweden, and not only by Swedes. Ten artist residing in Sweden would each take upon a room. When visiting the exhibition building, a former brewery in Nora, I understood the potential of the location. For a while I had been wanting to expand my work with a bathtub installation. Nora Art could provide me with the space and the material that I needed to do so, that until then had been out of reach.
In June, at the brewery's garden a battered bathtub was waiting for me, disfigured from its previous life. I painted it in a pink color that reminds of skin and put it together with Shower Head above it. So much made sense. But something was off, something was missing, disconnected. I couldn't seem to hang Obscured, the bra and panties I made out of human hair, in a position that pleased me. At the same time the bathtub felt unfinished, though I must say all new work I create does that for a while, then settles down.
Trying to refresh my mind from another perspective, I climbed into the bathtub. Distractions disappeared and I felt closer to my work. I was now literally in it, and then it hit me. Earlier I never wanted Obscured to be shown above each other, to become a body. But here, as my own body was in the bathtub, it felt like the right thing to do. I positioned it into the bathtub, the same way I had been laying there several minutes before, and all fell into place. However weird the pink color of the bathtub was, it turned into skin and the damages and scratches turned into scars and stretchmarks.
Now, several weeks after the exhibition opened and with several more weeks to go I reflect upon my work. The bathroom is a place of physical care taking. It is a place of retreat, were in the safety of privacy one cleans the body and rinses of the masks worn to adapt to public situations. It is therefore also a place of confrontation; the bathroom leaves no possibility to deny realities of the body. Normative imperfections or shortcomings must be dealt with or nursed. Physical conditions, changes or insecurities must be faced. The installation at Svensk Konst Nu! is a reflection on experiences within this subject.
Thank you Mark Andersson and Nora Art for providing me with the opportunity to expand on my work and thank you Benny Andersson for photographing.
Read more about the exhibition and my fellow exhibitors at norart.se.