#87 Kristina Bengtsson
Kristina Bengtsson (b. 1979) studied art history at Lund’s University (SE) and holds a degree in Fine Art from Glasgow School of Art (UK). Recent exhibitions include: Dislocating Surfaces; Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, La Maison du Fada; Breadfield, Malmö, I don’t think what you are saying is rational; Danske Grafikere, Copenhagen, The devil is in the detail; Westwerk, Hamburg. Recent publications include: New Scandinavian Photography; Black Dog Publishing, The Ravished Image – Or How To Illuminate By Alteration; Publication Studio Malmö, We Look and We See; Sailorpress. Bengtsson runs the publishing house and curatorial platform Hour Editions / Hour Projects with artist Kevin Malcolm.
Approximeter 80-94-9 / 70-82-12 FatMax Feet Meter Measure Tool (2015)
Steel, plaster, rubber, fabric
80 x 94 x 9 cm and 70 x 82 x 12 cm
Hvilke temaer og hvilke spørgsmål er du optaget af i din kunstneriske praksis?
For me, having an art practice is to have a sort of life-long investigation of language, communication and knowledge. All this information gained through research, conversations, listening, making, writing, materials, visual experiences, I try to implement in my own personal life, otherwise it has no real use to me.
I experiment with a variety of media but with an emphasis on photography and examine the social and cultural choreographies created and reinforced by small, automated everyday actions. My perspective and point of entry is personal and often references how one is privately affected by public opinion.
I often play with contradictions as a way to avoid consensus around the meaning of a work, these are often subtle and can be between material and content, between time and expression or between reading and understanding. Titles, materials and combinations of my works are not static or fixed and may change over time.
I have an obsession with details which, when combined with a desire to work in new materials, often leads my works to become more complicated and time consuming than initially intended. I nevertheless enjoy this method as it allows tactile qualities, intuition and chance to take a larger part in a conceptual practice.
Composition Status Quo 1 (2016)
Lambda print, found packaging material
40 x 50 cm
Hvilke nulevende og afdøde kunstnere føler du, at du går i dialog med?
It’s a varied group of artists that comes to mind and I don’t know of one artist that I completely agree with. Maybe that’s also too much to ask from an artist, a 100% match would basically be myself, who I’m already in dialogue with! For various reason these artists inspire me, could be because of a great text, because of one great artwork, because of a different perspective, because of an interesting practice or because of a complicated one. To name a few: Lee Lozano, Lothar Baumgarten, Bruno Munari, Moyra Davey, Agnes Martin, Ylla, Jules Supervielle, Henri Michaux, Captain Beefheart, Tove Jansson.
Hvad gør du for at trække din kunstneriske praksis nye steder hen?
I read books and I buy new tools. Recently I bought a stopwatch that I carry around my neck most of the time. I can time anything from eating breakfast to how long a piece of art takes to produce. These kind of obstacles/rules I sometimes invent and they undoubtedly take me places, both physically and mentally, and along the way I inevitably stumble across new things.
Hvad kendetegner de seneste nye opdagelser i din praksis? Hvad har det tilføjet dit kunstneriske udtryk?
I’ve managed to become free from the heavy burden of having studied photography and all that that entails. I’m sure I’ll be trapped again in one setting or another sometime in the future, but right now, it feels very good. I have strived for a place where photography can be used as a material and not as a media.
Hvad er de konkrete rammer for din arbejdsgang? Hvordan udfolder din proces sig rent praktisk?
For me the studio is invaluable, I need my tools and my materials around me. When I go to the studio, the time is spent more or less wisely, but I enjoy being there, it’s like my private space for the thoughts that have nowhere else to go. I can’t really define a starting point for a work. My photographs are often taken while travelling, after which they are developed, scanned and then added to my archive, where they often stay for a few years until they have found a purpose or a place to be. I never really take a photograph with a particular intention in mind. Whereas in my other works the process is a lot faster, I get an idea, I think for a while, I buy the material and then I produce the works. After that they sit in my studio until I know what to do with them. I like these different tempos. My process is driven by intuition, which is a bit of a delicate process, as you can’t ask your intuition any questions. The linear and unidirectional understanding of time that we seem unable to avoid often forces ideas and classifications to become rigid, so I therefore try to leave as much time as possible for the work. My way of working comes from a desire for flexibility, to return to things and change them.
Composition Status Quo 3 (2016)
Lambda print, found packaging material
40 x 50 cm
Hvad betyder inspiration for dig? Hvor opsøger du den?
I spend a lot of time in hardware shops; I always thought I was a bit of a tool nerd, but production lines and supply chains can say a lot about contemporary society. I also need tools for both my art practice and my money-job. I’ve recently thought about the importance of visibility in relation to structural gender problems. You need help (Yes, of course you need help), sometimes getting talked at as if you don’t or shouldn’t know or be interested in these technical things. It’s daunting at times but I believe that visibility is a key ingredient in changing existing structures around both gender and race.
Hvad stiller du op, når din proces går i stå?
My partner Kevin Malcolm is also an artist, so of course I speak with him most of all. I also talk to my other friends, colleagues and my family, but I’m always aware of who I talk to at what time, a conversation is not always good; the wrong type of conversation can be devastating. Time alone is often the best way to overcome a block. Most of the time though, what brings my practice to a standstill is external effects, like balancing an art practice alongside money-working, alongside a relationship, alongside family obligations, alongside your own expectations, alongside pride, alongside hierarchical structures, etc. A whole cavalcade of existential thoughts easily builds up but then again, just a quick read through current affairs is more than enough to sober you up.
Hvad har for nyligt begejstret dig kunstnerisk?
I read a lot and recently I’ve been excited about the following books/texts:
Natascha Sadr Haghighian – Robbie Williams SOLO SHOW
Paul B Preciado – Testo Junkie: Sex, drugs, and biopolitics in the pharmacopornographic era
Ambrose Bierce – The Devil’s Dictionary
Aimé Césaire – Om kolonialismen (Discours sur le Colonialisme)
Ida Börjel – Miximum Ca Canny Sabotagemanualerna you cutta da pay, we cutta da shob
La Maison du Fada (2016)
Giclée print, steel, glass, wood
1,90 x 90 x 90 cm
Hvordan ville du beskrive den danske kunstscene og hvordan befinder du dig personligt med den?
Hmm that’s difficult to explain, I’d say it has a big variety, I appreciate that it is big enough that there are parallel scenes and groups, which I enjoy to move in between, so in that way it is never static and there are a lot of great initiatives. On the other hand there is a great protectiveness of the group and not much engagement and/or interest in other groups, which I believe weakens a critical environment. Concepts and ideas are often better understood when opposed to their opposites.
Proemise of a desktop decision (2016)
Inkjet print, aluminum
27 x 34 cm
Med din hovedvægt på fotografiet, arbejder du i et krydsfelt mellem installation, fotografi, skulptur og bogudgivelser. Hvor ligger forskellen mellem installation og bog i dine værker og hvad betyder det for dig, at arbejde i begge medier? (Spørgsmål fra artistoftheweek.dk).
All my books share the duality that they function both as artworks and as books. They can be seen in an exhibition or they can be bought in a bookshop. The book as a format is interesting in relation to the white cube as it suggests a private, domestic experience. Working with books also softens up the art practice; in the end you have a book/object that you can give to people or trade for other books. In a practice, I believe, one needs to be rigorous with what’s being communicated and try to understand the meaning of words and evaluate their implications. On the other hand, it is important to give an artwork the authority to stand on its own, while also finding a balance between what is visually understood and what is intellectually understood. To work with a variety of media opens up more possibilities and conversations between ideas and between works. For me it is vital to keep this flexibility and movement, I don’t want to be stuck in a conversation between narcissus and echo.