6 – 23 May 2022
BABEL visningsrom for kunst welcomes you to the solo exhibition JEG FØLER MELLOM OG I by Karoline Sætre May 6 – 23.
OPENING Friday, May 6th at 19.00
ARTIST TALK Karoline Sætre in conversation with Heidi-Anett Haugen on Sunday, May 8th at 14.00
“JEG FØLER MELLOM OG I” is an exhibition consisting of a number of potential boundaries. Two soft walls stand and block free passage and false stairs lead into nothing. The works have been developed as a reaction to the urban space, which the artist has experienced through a residency at LKV in recent weeks. The exhibition is a personal abstraction of the emotions that arise in the face of physical and metaphorical boundaries of space. The poetic narrative lies as a potential key to the constructed landscape and the works refer to various more or less associative boundaries in the city.
Karoline Sætre (b. 1992) was born and raised in Trysil, where she recently bought a small, older farm together with her colleague and cohabitant Øyvind Novak Jenssen. She has a BA from the Trondheim Academy of Fine Art (2016) and an MA from Malmö Academy of the Arts (2019). She also has a year from the Author studies in Tromsø (Kunstakademiet, UIT: 2016-17) and has taken courses in library subjects. Her works take the form of installations consisting of several techniques and media, often put in relation to found objects from specific locations. Recent works have consisted of textiles, wood and clay and her current and ongoing interests are boundaries, distance, relationship, and connection.
ARTIST TALK Karoline Sætre in conversation with Heidi-Anett Haugen on Sunday, May 8th at 14.00. The event will be in Norwegian.
Heidi-Anett Haugen is a visual artist with a bachelor’s degree in contemporary art from the Academy of Fine Arts in Tromsø and a master’s degree in visual arts from the Academy of Fine Arts in Trondheim. She is also a writer of fiction.
This exhibition is made possible with support from the Norwegian Cultural Council, Trondheim Municipality and BKH.
TO BE A BODY AND A CITY TOO
Simen Utsigt Stenberg
One of my favorite works by Karoline Sætre is the work Gammelvollen shown in her master exhibition at the Malmö Academy of the Arts a few years ago. On both sides of an end wall stood two platforms of moss; on one a rifle bullet and on the other the tooth of a moose, both resting on small cubes of glass. I remember the intense smell of moss ripping through my nostrils – and from it, water droplets that evaporated and clung to the glass. The sensory impressions evoked the experience of being present at the actual event, but as a physical manifestation of the splicing that distances memories from reality, the architecture of the space became a boundary that blocked our sight and prevented us from studying the objects from more than one perspective at a time – as the moose or as the hunter. If a moose, against all odds, were to get lost and step inside to see Karoline Sætre’s current exhibition at Babel, the various shades of burgundy, pink and neon orange would melt into, for the moose, more recognizable shades of brown. But what the moose lacks in color vision it makes up for with its wide field of view; its eyes practically placed on the side of its head look both to its side, its front and behind it at the same time. In other words, if you ever meet a moose, it is very likely that it saw you first.
The closest we come to a human version of the moose’s naturally almost-panoptic vision is probably what the sociologist Michel de Certeau describes in his text Walking in the City from his book The Practice of Everyday Life. From the top of one of New York’s tallest buildings, he depicts the experience of this privileged horizonontal vision; the ecstatic feeling of stepping out of the busy life of the street mesh and seeing the city from above – to become an all-seeing eye. “It transforms the bewitching world by which one was possessed into a text that lies before one’s eyes,”i he writes – but it is, as de Certeau acknowledges, below this line of readability those who practice the city are and live – and it is here the text that makes up the city’s network is invisibly written. “The act of walking is to the urban system what speech is to language”ii; with the surroundings as a framework and tool for re-appropriation, we enunciate parts of the city through our use of it.iii
The immediate overview from up there in the skyscraper is not offered to us in Karoline Sætre’s exhibition at Babel – because it is on the ground, in the language and text down here, that Karoline Sætre operates. Past and between walls we must use our body and navigate – among associative assemblages of objects, temporary structures, and urban alerts and obstacles such as keys, flags, locks, stairs and ropes. This seems to be the grammar of urban space; clearly pronounced by the luminous surfaces of the stairs in neon-orange, as decisive exclamation marks in the landscape (be warned!). But in these a duality is also communicated; on the one hand as a symbolic obstacle, on the other as a beckoning function; that which leads the way, upward, forward, inward. In the sound work that permeates the air of the exhibition, there is talk of “taking the right detour“, and it is as de Certeau insinuates precisely the choice between here or thereiv that creates the urban space for us – and it is in this doubt that Karoline Sætre lets us linger.
Whereas she has previously worked with personal places and sections of maps associated with these, it does not seem immediately obvious or important which place this is. Much less a methodical attempt to map a city or a landscape, the exhibition seems to be a case of derivative indulgence; the result of giving in to the guide of the street network or defying it in the most cunning way – to be seduced and distracted by impressions, and indulge in impulses and attractions in the landscape without further justification; what we might call the power of intuition. Sætre collects, categorizes and places, processes her findings, associates and presents it all in a network of texts, objects and sound, beautifully composed with care and poetic tendency. It is not the place’s geographical position on a map that is important here, but the place as a subjective and relational encounter.
“JEG FØLER MELLOM OG I” suggests a temporary position, an I in motion, and where Sætre places us is in the middle of experience – as if we were immersed in a room of bodily impressions. For as much as the city bears the mark of us, the city also inscribes itself on the body, and in this way a two-way psychogeography is created. Sætre’s room is both the body of the urban space and her own; a body she herself writes.
The presence she meets the world with is in short supply in the everyday life typical of our time, but as she is aware, the scope of our perception is always both limited and fragmented. With “JEG FØLER MELLOM OG I” she highlights the city as a fleeting and adaptive phenomenon, rather than as an objective fact. Because Karoline Sætre knows that her city is only one possible version of many more and that this is her own mythology. It’s like she’s saying: Watch out! Be vigilant. Be present and LOOK. It is only down here – in our very being in the world – that it can be authentically experienced. And it is in this terrain that Sætre operates like the rest of us – to make it visible to us all.
i Michel de Certeau, ”Walking in the City,” in The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley og Los Angeles: University of California Press and London: University of California Press LTD, 1988), 92.
ii Michel de Certeau, ”Walking in the City,” in The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley og Los Angeles: University of California Press and London: University of California Press LTD, 1988), 97.
iii A brief summary of Michel de Certeau’s description, in which the words “enunciate” and “reappropriate” are central. Michel de Certeau, ”Walking in the City,” i The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley og Los Angeles: University of California Press and London: University of California Press LTD, 1988), 97 & 98.
iv Michel de Certeau, ”Walking in the City,” in The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley og Los Angeles: University of California Press and London: University of California Press LTD, 1988), 99.
Photos: Susann Jamtøy/BABEL visningsrom for kunst