Swedish artist Sara Forsström’s research explores the relationship between materials and landscape through installations made directly in nature.
Her work originates in close relationship with Norra Västerbotten, the place where she lives in northern Sweden.
Driven by a pull to expose herself to the realness and rawness of the land, she plans and conducts smaller expeditions in which she explores and pushes her limits. On trails and with her tent she collects inspirations and materials, observes, documents and then she paints, draw, install, photographs, read and write.
Most of her practice thus consists of fieldwork. Here, filtering what she finds, through her sieve of perception, she creates works that force the limits of our vision.
Thus a game of mutual references is activated in which reality is filtered by perception and the result is another landscape; not natural, not artificial, but both together. A concrete example of the concept of landscape as a cultural construction and, going further, as a perception and emotional connection, which continually requires the viewer to move his gaze between the outside and the inside, between the background and the centre, between the small and the large.
A CONVERSATION BETWEEN ARTISTS AND CURATORS:
Sara, your research is predominantly focused on the concept of vision. You induce the viewer to question the visible and the non-visible through a series of filters that you physically create in natural spaces. In your latest works, a series of sheets set up in the woods that you frequent have turned into interactive devices. Can you tell me briefly about this latest research and how do you realize it technically?
Of course. So, I am currently working in a material called Dyneema composite fabric that is frequently used in ultralight backpacking gear. It has this unique and almost unreal tactile and visual characteristics, almost seeming to upheave the physical conditions as it appears to be at the same time rugged like an armour and sheer to the point of translucence. When lying in a tent or under a tarp, light and shadow hits its surface, creating patterns of the surrounding shapes and forms. In an attempt of capture this effect I have, with oil color, transferred patterns found in a photograph of another landscape, creating an interplay with shared characteristics between the two different places.
Your creative process consists of an “experiential” and observational part in nature and a part in the studio. This is followed by the re-enactment of the work in nature, a sort of re-signification that inevitably has to do with you and with the surrounding nature, with the inside and the outside, subverting scales and values. What is your relationship with nature and how has this evolved in your work?
My relationship with nature is that of a homeless person. It has always been a constant in my life and growing up I learned how to approach it in a slightly distanced and recreational way, but never in the way of really being a natural part of it. Even though I’ve felt this strong connection to nature for as long as I can remember. Instead of going home, I have kept away, limited by fear and ignorance. Through my artistic practice I have challenged this fear and as it diminishes curiosity takes its place.
How much does the landscape with which you confront influence your artistic research? Are you interested in activating environmental, or other, reflections in addition to explorations more purely related to the formal and semantic construction of the image?
Significantly. As opposed to only the idea and concept of nature I am interested in what that specific place communicates to me. And even though it’s not the only aspect I examine, recently the scientific side has grown in importance, since I’ve immersed myself in subject of species diversity and more specifically fungi, lichens and insect tracks in wood. It is impossible not to feel stress over the speed in which we lose our natural landscapes and spaces to deforestation which inevitably has an impact on my work.
How important is Genius Loci to you?
Extremely important, I would say. It is principally what I aim to capture in my work, and particularly in my paintings. I am busy with the question of where or when a specific place ends and another one begins, examining the impermanence of nature and also what it actually consists of.