Bergsvyer från födelseorten del I - III / Mountain Views from the Place of Birth, part I - III, 2019-2020
This installation consists of three parts: one glass sculpture, one photo installation and one video work. Its themes touch upon questions around how we divide and organize to find systems. To categorize and draw borders in order to understand the incomprehensible.
The installation was made in the context of Hydrotope, a year long course on the theme of water: "The course forms a larger take on the relationship between nature, industry and todays environmental situation and the consequences and effects of industrialization and human behavior.” (Lina Selander, 2019)
My mother grew up by the Caspian Sea. 14 years ago my family and I went on a holiday to Turkey. On a boat trip on the Aegean Sea, my mother went for a swim and got stuck in a stream. She was close to drowning. After this, her relationship to water changed; she became afraid of water. However, the love for her hometown sea, the Caspian Sea, has not changed. Her way of distinguishing between sea and sea - water and water - made me think of borders and human systematization of the world. This is my starting point for the work.
Bergsvyer från födelseorten del I/Mountain Views from the Place of Birth part I
Engraving on 3mm flat glass
Installation view: Hydrotope, Art Lab Gnesta
Part I: the glass sculpture
My projects constantly find new angles, and in order to delimit these angles and delve into particular aspects of the project I draw diagrams. When I think around the matters in question, I imagine geometrical figures that create connections. Hence, the diagrams become a visualization of my thoughts around a project, organizing those connections within the project's themes.
I have previously only treated my diagrams as my own preparatory work, but in the last year I have begun to materialize them. This work was the first time I used glass engraving as a method for materialization. I chose glass as a medium intuitively, but during the process I realized it was the property of glass being "liquid” and how this would relate to water that drew me to the material. Further on during the process, I began working with the shape of the glass, and was intrigued by the bodily memory it retained. Each and every one of us know how it feels to hurt ourselves on broken glass - an experience which could draw parallels with the dangers of the ocean.
The shape in relation to water can resemble the form of a disintegrating iceberg or clouds where shapes appear and create a story. I mainly look at it like a map. I was interested in the brokenness in relation to binding pieces together with the diagrams, emphasizing borders.
Again, I think of how we set boundaries between parts of a whole - a map creates borders that can rarely be experienced. Naming one water the Caspian Sea and another the Aegean Sea ... what does that really mean? Are borders between seas/oceans, countries, cities, places we can physically find ourselves in? Can we experience the crossing of a border? If we close our eyes when we cross a manmade border, can we feel it? Possibly only when we stop feeling the ground under our feet when entering a sea or an ocean.
I want to touch upon questions around our constant systematization of the world. I want to turn the question to the bodily mind; can we understand and embody what we define and put into words?
Bergsvyer från födelseorten del II / Mountain Views from the Place of Birth part II
14 photographs, silver gelatin
Installation view: Hydrotope, Art Lab Gnesta
The second part of the installation consists of photographs from my family archive arranged vertically with a visible horizon, relating as much to the narrational timeline as to the systematization of linear time as a straight line.
Part II: the photo installation
I find it interesting to think of film's evolution historically and what that means for 'the timeline'. When working with VHS or DV cassettes I realized that the timeline is already created, the editing process is already made within the cassette. A narrative is created, literally based on time, with its own emerging dramaturgy. Now, the camera records on a memory card instead of a cassette, making it possible to access the footage as you record it - in separate clips. It is of course still put into an order based on time – however, it is not edited and the film clips are separate fragments, thus there is no timeline.
In my artistic process I often return to my own family archive, containing only footage from VHS and DV cassettes, and filmstrips with still images. For this work I digitalized footage of the Caspian Sea where my mother grew up, and the Aegean Sea where she almost drowned. I rendered still images, inverted them and printed them on film by creating a negative that I brought to the darkroom and developed as a new positive image.
I usually don't find myself relating to the timeline that was created by the VHS/DV/filmstrip, and this method became a way to approach that border between myself and the created narrative. I created a timeline of my own. The vague, black-and-white image, and its order, now approaches the memory-timeline.
As one may notice, the horizon is central in the chosen images and in the form. In the aforementioned glass sculpture, one can see a diagram showing a circle with several circles inside it, and a line diagonally going through it. I imagine that line as a diameter of Earth, a 2D horizon. I see a strong connection between that horizon and the timeline (linear time). Since it is a diameter, it could be a straight line drawn from any starting point to any ending point within the circular shape. Meaning, it could be horizontal, vertical or diagonal.
In this work, I depicted this idea by using images with a visible horizon and installing them vertically, relating to the narrative timeline as much as the systematization of linear time as a straight line.
Bergsvyer från födelseorten del III
/ Mountain Views from the Place of Birth part III
Stills from digital video
Color, B/W, sound 10:33 min
The third and final part of the installation is a video work. The film develops thematics around the comprehension of borders and the distance between them by moving in parallel through different places: Svalbard, Iran, the Dark Room. It explores the border between man and image, site and camera, and the relationship of film to these.
Part III: the video
A recurring symbol in the film is the color red. It could be read as a strong political symbol especially in relation to being in Iran. However, I aim to use the color red as a symbol for the dark room. The dark room uses red light as way to maintain the quality of the image by not exposing it to light that may destroy it – while the creator is still able to control what happens to the image. Hence, the dark room becomes a symbol of power. Power over the imagery, over the creation of narrative.
One scene in the film shows an image being developed in the red dark room. Whilst it is developing and becoming more and more visible, a strong light hits the image and it slowly turns black.
While the actual dark room is made for still images, I use the red room as way to also dominate the moving images from my family archive. A scene shows a monitor connected to a DV camera; the cord is similar to an umbilical cord. Everything is placed like a still life in a red setting, with a wrinkled veil. You see two people that quite obviously are performing in front of a camera. It's cinematic and simultaneously arguing for its archival and documentary character. It’s building a relationship between fiction and reality by emphasizing a border between them. Is the camera creating the narrative or is someone directing it? I’m thinking of the camera as the director; the people start performing when the camera is on and now the scene is performing for us. Simultaneously I think of the camera as the closest image we can have to reality and the non-performative, in that it shows something that has existed or is existing, like evidence. I can’t say what is real and what is performed. I lack conclusion.
By using the montage, I reflect back upon the thoughts around the timeline of DV footage. In the montage the timeline is deconstructed to be reconstructed. I edit the footage as I please, put the clips in relation to other footage like the mist in Iran, the sun seen from a telescope and the moon seen from Svalbard – and similar to the aforementioned photo installation, I create a new narrative.