WITHIN THE STATE OF BECOMING
Suzanna asked me to write a text for her upcoming exhibition. I was happy to do it. I was very curious about the things I saw and heard at her studio. New works in the process of becoming. Works that would be exhibited in a few weeks. Works that hadn’t found their form just yet. Some works that maybe wouldn’t? Above all I saw a process that was ongoing and developing to different directions.
TAKING SPACE, GIVING SPACE
Suzanna Asp’s exhibition filmed framefemale body is an investigation into body and space. The investigation, focusing on structures of power emerging in the relationship between a space and a female body, is based on an artistic research process, which Asp started at Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm in the spring of 2013. Politics and restrictions of space and the never-ending negotiations between spaces and gendered bodies are persistent themes in Asp’s practice. Often the artist approaches the theme by using her own body and her own lived experiences.
“Apple Boxes are wooden boxes or crates of varying sizes with holes on each end used chiefly in film production. These boxes are specialized pieces of equipment belonging to the grip department, and should not be confused with simple crates or other boxes. As one of the most ubiquitous and useful pieces of equipment on a film set, Apple Boxes are used for anything that needs to be propped up or supported temporarily. They can be used to prop up furniture and light stands, for leveling camera dolly track, or to provide temporary seats, workbenches, or stepladders. Often the need arises to make an actor appear taller, either because of their height, or to fit with the composition of a particular shot. In this use Apple Boxes are jokingly referred to as "Man Makers". Apple Boxes were originally used for storage. They would have a forward opening in the box and it could be used as a double storage device for small necessary things.” (Wikipedia)
CRITICAL SPATIAL PRACTICE
The research Asp’s exhibition filmed framefemale body relates to is affected by a number of feminist artists, filmmakers, architects, poets and theorists. In the sound piece we hear the artist talk about Jane Rendell’s ideas on the process of colonizing and de-colonizing spaces with one’s body. The politics of occupying a space. Taking space and giving space is something present especially in Asp’s performative works.
At another occasion Rendell (2006) has talked about artistic practice as critical spatial practice. According to her, artists have the ability to make us see the spaces that surround us in a new way, to relate to them in a new way, to make us conscious of our bodies in these spaces in a new way. I think this is exactly what Suzanna Asp is doing as well; working with physical space, imagined space, space of a film, space of a screen, space of a text.
THE PERSONAL IS THE POLITICAL
There is a feminist method of framing, re-framing and disrupting images of the female body to be found in Asp’s practice. Drawing often from personal experiences, using her own body as material, the artist acts, writes and speaks in first person. The exhibition evolves around the piece Final Presentation (2014). The installation builds on an interplay of simultaneous flow and disruption of space, images and sounds; the image is projected on curtain folds, through rotating screens, the sound and the images consisting of separate entities linked and synched together. The images spill out of the screens, the flow of images becoming filtered and disrupted, along with the speech on the sound piece, which again is framed by a selection of sound clips.
In Asp’s practice, the process of working with text, literature, space, images, moving images, as well as the acts of writing and performing in front of the camera appear as artistic research. These artistic articulations are not only seeking to establish a relationship to research, but the artistic work itself can be viewed as a research method. For the artist the self-reflective research appears as a bodily, spatial investigation into space, movement and text. Asp works with things that exist, using them to make a new assemblage. In doing this, the artist opens up approaches to feminist knowledge production that lie beyond traditional positivistic standards and objective criteria of hard science.
In the exhibition we get to experience fragments of a working process the artist has been and is part of. In a calm soft voice we hear the artist explain analytically her thoughts and feelings around the research. We learn it is a long and complex process, enjoyable though sometimes hard. Also, we learn it is work. Still often thought of as an intuitive, secretive, mystical process where magic happens in rushes of uncontrollable creativity, the artistic process opens up in front of us as a long-term commitment to analytic, systematic hard work, which oftentimes is also physical.
THINGS TURNING INTO THINGS
I asked for a week’s extension to the deadline. Suzanna said it was okay. It was the holiday season, and I was writing in London, Seinäjoki and Turku. I delivered at the last minute. Looking into the materials for the show, Suzanna’s essay from Konstfack, the press release, my notes, I start seeing the project as a part of an on-going process, as something that is slowly but surely becoming, something that is turning into something, something rather fragile developing around a network of solid fragments and cross-references.
Rendell, J. (2006) Art and Architecture: A Place Between. London: I.B. Tauris.
Texte zur Kunst. Issue No. 82/June 2011. “Artistic Research”.
The Journal for Artistic Research (JAR). http://www.jar-online.net. (Accessed 27 December 2014.)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_box. (Accessed 27 December 2014.)
Elina Suoyrjö. Suoyrjö is an independent curator and writer born in Finland. Her curatorial practice evolves around working site-specifically in close dialogue with artists. At the moment she is working on a PhD research on feminist curatorial strategies at Middlesex University in London.
With the kind support from Göteborgs Stad.