#108 Sif Ankergård
Sif Ankergård (DK 1984) graduated the Masters of Fine Art in 2015 from Bergen Academy of Art and Design, Bergen, Norway. Holds a BA of Fine Art from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, Amsterdam, Netherlands. Resent projects includes AARK residency in Korppoo, Finland, a solo show at Hordaland Kunstsenter, Norway, the group show Nervous systems – Language of wonder and denial in Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark, and the publishing of Page, an annual artist writing magazine.
I will say something and you will understand it
Hvilke temaer og hvilke spørgsmål er du optaget af i din kunstneriske praksis?
I work with a variety of subjects that at first glance might not appear to have any connection, however, I have often had the sense that the things that catch my attention are banalities in a sense. I am a strong believer in the meaning of meaninglessness, that is to say: I attempt to make heroes of the banalities and the cliché. Think of the value of digging a hole, and you will understand me.
Currently I am working on a project entitled “I wish I was a landscape painter”, looking at traditions and clichés surrounding the gesture of painting landscapes. A strong emphasis in this project is on the activity of it, the traveling artist that sees and records the exotic sunsets of the south, or the snowy forest of Finland and the fog over the water in the archipelago. The activity of studying the shape of clouds or palm trees. Looking both at history and traditions of old masters, like Nicolai Astrup’s paintings of the view from his studio; the same mountain across the fjord again and again, and at the tourist postcards from the corner shop that seem to have the most fasinating range of cliché imagery of any place.
Palm tress made of pinetree
Hvilke nulevende og afdøde kunstnere føler du, at du går i dialog med?
Will Holder is someone I would like to think of as relating to my way of working. I find his way of thinking about the text in link with the visual arts very interesting.
Nikolai Astrup as mentioned above is someone I have recently taken a more careful look at for technical understanding as well as some of the ramonatic landcsape painters like J.M.W. Turner and Caspar David Friedrich.
And then Carl Hiassen, is a writer that I greatly enjoy, and I would like to think that his way of playing with the banalities of human stupidity is somehow relational to my work. It is definitely linked to my process and activity of making, and my respect for my own stupidity.
Hvad gør du for at trække din kunstneriske praksis nye steder hen?
It is the other way around. I constantly struggle to keep my focus in one direction, but its never really working that way, my brain is a messy place full of contradicting ideas and disruptions. It is like walking in a dense forest, with trees and plants sprouting everywhere, the massive trunks of giant trees. It is dark even in mid day under the thick canopy.
Sunrise in the Finish archipelago
Hvad kendetegner de seneste nye opdagelser i din praksis? Hvad har det tilføjet dit kunstneriske udtryk?
I have recently come to understand that the space I work in is not the gap between material tradition and conceptual thinking, but rather in a place where these meet, where the conceptual understandings and the material crafting coexist, rather than contradict each other. Skill in craft and artistic research are both very important to me. I try to let them cooperate in the development of my work.
Hvad er de konkrete rammer for din arbejdsgang? Hvordan udfolder din proces sig rent praktisk?
I often start with, no; I always start with a sentence, a line of words that take me into the subject. It becomes the project title. I then take the sentence and dissect its meaning, disrupt its grammar, make objects for it, make works that attempts to understand its prolific meanings, collage new texts out of the one’s I read, I make a project out of the sentence.
Through an ongoing engagement with performativity of sculptures and text, I have so far been developing a body of works that involves text production, sculpture, paintings and hybrid-work that comes to life upon the precise placing within a defined space, rooms, walls, pages, posters and publications, following what can be seen as a play with ideas of linguistic construction.
My working process is far from predetermined. It is, rather, a questioning, cumulative, tentative and reflective one, in which themes, strategies and work-making typically emerge and evolve through a continuous circling around a sentence that for me is the generator of interest in the topic at hand. This sentence works at the working title and most of the time ends up being the overall project title. The project is then approached through making, reading and writing and re-writing and combining in a way best described by the word: collage.
I recently moved my studio to the spare room in my apartment, and I have come to love this situation of having my morning coffee in the company of my artworks. The studio is a place of activity, a space where in things are happening, current time, next to things stored or discarded, past times, and notes and sketches for future times all coexists. From this situation of the studio time-laps I explore how sculptures and notes and fantasy can melt together, coexists and unfold. Over time, in process and discarded versions of works accumulate and a pile of paper becomes a sculpture.
My approach to writing and to sculpture and painting is very much the same in the sense that I make a lot and edit out, overlay and loop and re-do. I find that it is essential for a sculptural method to sketch in materials and in space. I would like to propose a “metodology of material complicity” → to give agency to the material → to follow the material → to act with the material.
The term “material” describes not prime matter but substances that are always subject to change. Through handling, interaction with their surroundings, through activity.
The two of us talk about trees in different ways
Hvad betyder inspiration for dig? Hvor opsøger du den?
I read books. I read and I read and I read, and then I write. I write essays and poetry and stuff in-between. When I read other people’s words my mind starts drifting and I start adding lines to the text, and in a collage-like manner, things start to melt into each other and the lines spawning words in every direction. Most of my inspiration comes from books.
Hvad stiller du op, når din proces går i stå?
I think the honest answer is: I freak out. I go into existential-crisis-mode and start questioning everything I do and have ever done.
It is just something that happens and then goes away again as sneakily as it came, but with experience I have learned to just let it be, to allow it to happen like a wave washing over a beach, nothing I can do to stop it anyway, and after watching the waves return to the ocean again and again it becomes okay.
Hvad har for nyligt begejstret dig kunstnerisk?
On a shelf, next to the couch here at home stands a small painting “Myr med Tårn” by Svein Rønning that my boyfriend bought a while ago. I look at it every day, and sometimes fall into a dream like walk in the landscape in the picture. I walk and walk one foot in front of the other in the wet grass, slowly, but I don’t seem to really get anywhere. I find it quite fascinating how this tiny (approximately 18×22 cm) landscape can somehow swallow me hole.
Hvordan ville du beskrive den danske kunstscene og hvordan befinder du dig personligt med den?
Well that’s not really a question I can answer, as I left Denmark 10 years ago before I even thought of studying art. All I can say is that I had a very good experience when I was back in 2014 for the exhibition “Nervous systems – Language of wonder and denial” in Aarhus Kunsthal which was my debut show in my home country. Aarhus Kunsthal was a good and professional institution to work with and I was very happy to work with the two amazing curators Fatima Hellberg & Bárbara Rodríguez Muñoz.
Naturen spiller en stor rolle i dine værker, vil du fortælle lidt om dens indirekte påvirkning? (spørgsmål fra Artistoftheweek)
Well I don’t really know about that, to me it is not so much about nature, it’s more about the tradition of i.e. landscape painting, about how the scenery of a landscape can and has been used by the romanticist, as a mean to talk about other things. It’s about the longing to be something one is not. And the cliché and wonder of postcards; how we represent cultural identity through landscapes imagery.
Somehow it is coincidental that nature is part of a landscape, but not at focus. I am interested in the elements that make up a landscape-painting, not a landscape, the focus is on the object landscape-painting.
Nature is just something that is there, that we move through, for me, not a point of focus. Maybe it’s living here in Norway that made me start taking it more for granted, however that’s not right either, I still get all excited and awestruck when I go hiking in the mountains and a sun ray or a cloud moves. I think being facinated by the sunset is a very basic human condition.
Somewhere in all this, the thing is that nature is the scene that life plays out in, and my work plays out in it too, so it necessarily gets reflected in it. The landscape gets reflected in the artworks iridescent surface of context. This is unavoidable.