Despite the pandemic lockdown in Europe I got the chance to visit Finland and pursue my project in a secure environment at Serlachius Residency in Mänttä one hour east of Tampere. Right after the opening of my exhibition in February I could start the black and white photo portraits with my analogue equipment. For this occasion I used a Mamiya RB 67 loaded with Fujifilm Neopan. At home I started with the post production, developing the film negative and manipulating the chemical surface of the slides.
The two month residency in Finnland was quite successful with an exhibition and feature in the newspaper. My working conditions in the studio were near perfect and the footage in the local thrift stores turned out amazing. Only the cold temperatures with mostly minus 20 degrees became a challenge to my daily commute by bike.
In my constructional garments I try to define the space of intimacy and the margin of distance to express a self-consciousness without being exploited. The title of the exhibition “The Distance of Faith” is supposed to describe a new understanding of the embodiness of our own space. In current times we are manoeuvred in that experience by different believes of science and faith. For sure we learned recently a new measurement of intimacy and privateness. I like to address this new space of self-awareness by my garments and wearable objects. For some reasons Finnland is quite an interesting place to research this kind of personal distance. Traditional cultural behaviour may be one reason that the people here connect much better with the new indicated rules of personal distance. As they cope well with a scientific approach to handle isolation rather than flee in certain patterns of conspirational belief. Part of handling this moment may be rooted in their own mythology “Kalevala” which has shaped Finnish culture and the national feeling in ways that should not be underestimated. The Kalevala differs from other saga cycles that it focuses on the common people and its heroes are distinguished mostly by knowledge and the art of singing. In that sense I try to reflect parts of the local identity in my artistic approach to reflect the Finnish embodiment of the personal space.
To visit the Serlachius residency in Finland was a difficult trip. Due to the pandemic restrictions I had to quarantine for more than a week in Helsinki and Tampa. But reaching finally my destination it was worth the effort. Next to a lake and covered in freezing temperatures it turned out quite idyllic. What I had to find out the hard way was the distance between the studio and the apartment, a commute of 3km by bike and temperatures often below -20 degrees.
At the end of February I was able to hold an exhibition to show my recent work. The show was well attended despite some restrictions and was featured very prominently in the local newspaper.
A fresh insight into my most recent work from my Swiss exile. Reflecting on pandemic shelter. Working with the negative slides refreshes my memories of the summer in the Alps living in a Swiss castle. The poetic times are obvious gone, shelter and isolation is about to visit again. The analogue photography completes my works of paper clothes and taxidermic sculptures.
Starting the project in March with Max Frisch‘s „Man in the Holocene“ I would like to finalize with a poem:
In die Mulde meiner Stummheit
leg ein Wort
und zieh Wälder groß zu beiden Seiten, daß mein Mund
ganz im Schatten liegt.
Ingeborg Bachmann, 1953
Remembering Shanghai at the Swatch Peace Art Hotel I also think of all these interesting artists from all over the world which I met. Han Feng, a gifted painter who has also designed a collection watch for Swatch in 2019 was one of them. Our portrait session turned out quite well and this week I processed some old negative slides I never considered before. Hope you like the result. Yu Jidong 于继东 was another artist I learned to appriciate at the residency in Shanghai. Very humble, he introduced me to his family and his lovely daughter was a big help for my own art work research. And of course Soyung, a Korean artist which became a close friend of mine.
The Winter in Estonia was quite remarkable. My photographic work and exhibition worked out great. I was invited to a traditional wedding by one of my new friends where I danced for the first time in years. People were nice and warmhearted, maybe comes with the cold weather and the snow.
The photographic settings in Tallin, Estonia were one of a kind. For sure I had to improvise a lot, as the residency was one of the shorter ones with a duration of two month. At this occasion I was not so much into creating garments out of paper as the possibilities were quite limited. On the other side I could show some first prints at the exhibition in the end of my second Baltic residency.
Working again on the analoge slides from Iran. It was a most alienating experience and as a matter of fact a very nice and warm one too. I was the last artist who got the chance to get a funded residency at the Austrian embassy in Tehran in 2016. After that it was closed for good and the regime became even more restrictive towards foreigners and local artists. Since then is very hard to get into the country as foreign artist and work there at a residency.
As a guest of the Kunstverein Oberwallis (KVO) and the municipality of Brig-Glis I worked in the studio in the Fernanda of Stockalperhaus. From July 4 on, I showed what was created there under the title “Prosthetic Memories” in the KVO gallery “zur Matze”.
Lothar Berchtold wrote in the Walliser Bote 2.7.2020:
You can discover portable sculptures from old books and with current texts and drawings, lamb skulls covered with holy images and text, and reading woods. What she wants with her art? “To conserve things that are subject to decay and destruction, and thus to give old things a new existence,” the artist answers us during our visit to her studio.
Working on different objects in Brig to get ready for the exhibition in July.
I arrived in Switzerland one week before the lockdown facing not only the pandemic but also a three month isolation in my apartment and studio. Fortunately the residence was located in the old castle of Kaspar Stockalper built in the 17th century. On the bright side I could start working for my solo exhibition ‘Prosthetic Memories’ without any distraction. My focus was on wearable paper sculptures, taxidermy objects and some Covid related drawings. The residency lasted until August with the main exhibition in July when public events were possible again.
Born in isolation, the project “Prosthetic Memories” was originally inspired by Max Frisch’s story: Man appears in the Holocene. “Disasters are known only by man, nature knows no disasters” writes the author. His protagonist, alone in a valley in Ticino, he deals with the loss of memory in the narrative.