Artist of the week

#95 Hedvig Berglind

Hedvig Berglind (b. 1988, Lund, Sweden) graduated from Goldsmiths in 2014. Recent solo shows include Chalton Gallery, London (2015), and Galerie Pictura, Lund (2015). As well as a collaborative solo show at DKUK Salon, London (2015). Selected group exhibitions include Outpost Open Film, London (2016), Harvard GSD, Cambridge (2016), Outpost Members Show, Norwich (2016) Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris (2016), (2016), Cisco Design Center, LA (2016), Scena Productions, London (2016), Galerie HFBK, Hamburg (2015), Feral, Mexico City (2015). Publications include Ed Atkins for Outpost Open Film, Norwich (2016), Everything is Solid, Copenhagen (2016), DARE Magazine, Hamburg (2015). She recently did a residency at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris and received a work grant from Film i Skåne (Malmö).




In your artistic practice, which themes and questions are you engaged in?
I work sculpturally with video, exploring how the moving image mimics human ontology and vice versa. My recent works look to examine or undermine the construction of the narrative tropes that constitute meaningful images, appropriating and acting them out in an effort to get inside them.


Which artists, both deceased and alive, do you feel related to?
Anyone who is a minimalist in their medium, and who uses the humour and sincerity of minimalism. Poets like Walt Whitman and Langston Hughes as well as directors Robert Bresson, early Milos Forman and Pasolini. Artist filmmakers that have been influential to me are British artists Isaac Julien and John Akomfrah. They work with sensual scenery and cinematic looks in a conceptual way.


What do you do to push your artistic practice in new directions?
I think my art changes and new works come about when something important happens in my personal life.


What characterizes your latest discoveries in your practice? What has it contributed to your artistic expression?
I am currently studying philosophy of language in order to understand visual language better and to see the links between how we read images and words. This is a continuation of research I have done before previously and it will inform my next work.


What are the specific frames of your day of work? How does your process play out?
As I start the process of making a new work people and places I come across are what ends up forming the work. Most often the work starts with a house, or a landscape, a setting. My work is stylised and the setting is the most important feature because it forms the mental space that the viewer is going to be in. When I have found the place where I’m going to film I start looking for people to play roles. When I filmed the work Everybody talks about the weather in Mexico City in 2015 I had spent months emailing and negotiating in order to be allowed to film in a private house designed by Mexican architect Luis Barragan. Once I got to the house ready to film, the owners of the house wanted 4 times as much money as we had agreed to and I wasn’t able to do it. Luckily Amalie Jakobsen, who I was doing the exhibition in Mexico with, was good friends with a guy who worked at the Barragan Museum. Through him I was able to start the painful process of getting permission to film in the museum instead. The Barragan Museum is also designed by Luis Barragan and used to be his home and studio. I needed permission from three different foundations, two in Mexico, and one in Switzerland to do the work. The Mexican foundations didn’t like the Swiss foundation but needed to stay on good foot with them. I was lucky that the lady who was running the Swiss foundation liked my project and convinced the museum to let me film. On top of that they had received funding from the UK that year and needed to promote British artists. The image of Mexico’s most renowned architect Luis Barragan (whose architecture has a European style with a Mexican twist) is owned by European foundations.

I met actress Elsa Gil, who is part of this work, though a Mexican friend. She had trained in New York and had just returned to Mexico City. Her appearance is more Spanish looking than native Mexican which is how everyone looks in advertisements and public imagery in Mexico even though that’s not what most people look like. The set-up of the video and the casting mimics advertisement and other “acceptable” images. It is ingrained with colonial structures. This negotiation of image, body, history, space and ownership was a reality I dealt with as I was making the work. It is now part of the image I produced but in a deconstructed way.



Another example of how my work comes about is when I was in the process of planning to film the work Phillips in London last year, I knew I wanted to make something that took the guise of a costume drama. A friend of mine happened to be working at a strange small private-run museum called the Dennis Severs House. This interested me and it turned out that the owner, David, was a big friend of art and liked my project. The house is a beautiful house located in Spitalfields, roughly dating back to 1725. Up until recently it was the private home Dennis Severs, who kept much of the original interiors and lived there as if it was still 1725. He opened the house to the public as a kind of mise-en-scène, or a still-life drama as he called it. It seemed perfect for my concept. Dennis Severs House is a post-modern museum and the work I made there is a post-modern work. When I knew where I was going to film I started looking for people who would be interested in taking part. I asked people I knew who had relations to fashion or theatre if they would like to be part. I was also specifically looking for people who liked to dress up in historical costumes. When I met a group of friends for whom costume and fetish formed an important part of their community they became the subjects of my work. In a Warholian manner I film people being themselves, more like an anthropologist than a filmmaker.




What does inspiration mean to you? Where do you find it?
I’m not sure if I look for inspiration in the traditional sense as something external penetrating in the internal. I do research, just continually in my life and it accumulates to a new mode or perspective, or improvement of what I was already doing. Sometimes my work seems dry that way because it’s based on theory, but I make work for personal reasons. I don’t think in terms of inspiration but a sense of needing to express something. Sometimes during a conversation with someone I don’t know I understand an aspect of a work I did years ago, a discovery that hadn’t formulated itself in my mind yet.


What do you do when your process is blocked?
I wait.


What has recently excited you artistically?
Reading Rumi, a 17th century persian sufi poet who writes about love J


How would you describe the Danish art scene and how do you personally find yourself within it?
I have been hugely influenced by Danish cinema especially, as well as art writers such as Lars Bang Larsen. I think Danish artists have a special brand of deadpan surrealism that appeals to me, often playing with formats, contexts and social norms.


Can you speak a bit about your latest work? (question from  #93 Amalie Jakobsen)
My latest work is a collaboration with Swedish philosopher Klara Hedling and is a conceptual reading of the Book of Job. The Book of Job is part of the Wisdom Literature of the Tanakh and tells the story of a man of wealth and great happiness who is tested by God. The moral of the story is much disputed in Jewish and Christian tradition. After a long dialogue between Job and God as to why Job has been punished when he has been so good, the story ends unresolved with an open question. Our interest in this story was around myths and what kind of myths we live with today and how they form our lives. The film is shot in 4K in the desert outside Los Angeles, with the landscape drawing references to Jodorowsky, Antonioni, Tarantino, John Ford, Pasolini and the larger cinematic history of the area

I usually work with a combination of actors and people who have no experience acting. This time we worked with a group of LA-based artists who all knew each other to perform the text. Natural group dynamics and group psychologies are important in all my works, in this work as well, even though it is staged and scripted, the group dynamics comes through.


Thank you