Den här bloggen är ett arkiv över texter som jag skriver och har skrivit om konst och konstnärer under mer än 25 år som yrkesverksam konstvetare - som museichef, konsthallschef, museiintendent, konstnärlig rådgivare, curator, projektledare för konstnärlig gestaltning och sedan augusti 2014 även gallerist.
måndag 28 oktober 2013
Sissi Westerberg - Becoming - ENGLISH
7 September – 13 October 2013
UPPSALA ART MUSEUM
solo exhibition at Uppsala Art Museum – Becoming
– possesses direction. It poses questions. It analyses. It is empirical, but at
the same time builds upon a tradition.One could say that the ”Second Wave of Feminism” from the 1970s and
onwards has helped develop a new artistic attitude, new work methods, new
aesthetics and new perspectives for an entire generation of contemporary
artists. This is where Sissi Westerberg comes in. Her artistic works bear clear
references to important feminist artists such as Janine Antoni (b. 1964) and
early women’s rights activists such as Virginia Woolf (1882 – 1941). Sissi
Westerberg’s comments to her forerunners are at times so apparent that it would
be more appropriate to refer to them as “homages”.She brings to the fore historically viable questions in a
contemporary context with her starting point in personal dreams and subconscious
urges. Traditionally feminist attitudes interact with identity crises and
contemporary consumer critique and are furthermore emphasized by way of the
genuinely human body. With regard to method and expression Sissi Westerberg’s
art is above all corporeal.
Becoming is both the title of the exhibition as well as a
series of works she been engaged in for some time. It all started with her work
with jewellery and ornaments, where she worked in an area on the boundary
between artefact and natural ornaments, between man-made forms with the purpose
of decorating and marking a distance to nature and the more “undesirable” body
ornaments such as body fluids and bodily orifices. She makes use of forms that
seem both seductively attractive but at the same time hint at the most
taboo-laden parts of the human body. It is as though the body has oozed out of
it’s protective skin and concealing clothes, and transformed itself into
brooches and necklaces. As an extension of the theme, Sissi Westerberg has
created an alter-ego character, a middle-class woman wearing a trench coat. She
has been involved in a number of performances at various venues including
Rejmyre Art Lab where she is co-director. This female character provokes and is
provoked by the distinction between nature and culture, object and abject, and
norm and taboo. The video documentary Drawing
a Line caused quite sensation at the Liljevalchs Spring Exhibition in 2011.
It featured a performance where the trench coat wearing woman paints a bright
pink line on a wall with her own body. How she does it, and what body part she
uses as a brush are questions left unanswered.
The woman in the
trench coat is on the verge of letting loose the most animalistic urges within
her. She has decided to let go and to stop being so sensible.What would happen if the animalistic
side of her took over, or perhaps if nature took her over, took her back?,
Sissi Westerberg asks.
body art offers us several points of entry into the works of Sissi Westerberg.
The body as object and tool. Where Janine Antoni painted the gallery floor
using her hair as a brush and hair colouring as paint (Loving Care, 1992) Sissi Westerberg took up the theme anew in her
piece Drawing a Line.
Antoni used her teeth to sculpt in chocolate and fat (Gnaw, 1992), Sissi Westerberg recently used a similar method in her
latest work A House of One’s Own,
where she used her teeth to sculpt a small hut, perfectly suited to her body
essay A Room of One´s Own (1929)
deals to a large extent with the need of all creative people to have a life
space of their own and naturally, in the case of women, basic personal security
and equality as well. In the piece A
House of One’s Own, Sissi Westerberg expresses a purely physical need for
her own space without really knowing why. Does the space offer her freedom, or
does it constitute a cage? It is the urge itself to create that dictates her
In her series of
works entitled I am Open, Sissi
Westerberg questions the design of everyday objects. Why do they look the way
they do? Why do they not resemble us humans? The artist tests the idea that the
purpose of functionalism’s design idiom was to distance us from nature. Through
the simple, reduced, undecorated and minimalist design, we become more human
and less threatened by the disorganised and transient. In several works the
artist subjects us to meaty and body-related ”taboos”, and in doing so offers
the body an even more corporeal presence. Why is it so difficult for us? What
taboos and cultural archetypes are we shocked and disgusted by?
To quote the
French philosopher Gilles Deleuze (1925 – 1995); art is our way of creating new experiences – through affects. This
is the how Sissi Westerberg works as well. She illuminates tabooed subjects and
lets them chafe between attraction and affect.
Becoming is an exhibition about ”coming into being”, of
encountering oneself and moving forwards.
TRANSLATION: RICHARD GRIFFITH CARLSSON
Sissi Westerberg was born in 1975 and received her
education at the Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in
Stockholm. She works both in Sweden and abroad (see CV).