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Who Counts the Step of the Sun Installation still

 

WHO COUNTS THE STEPS OF THE SUN;  INSTALLATION with three screens (2016)

40 min HD
Written, directed & edited by Ninia Sverdrup
Director of photography Carl Dieker

Video excerpt
All descriptions

About the film
by Annelie Axén
For most people daily life is full of routines. We get up in the morning, get dressed and go to work. During large parts of the day we are in a state where we do not notice the world around us: we act according to pre-settings. We make rational choices in order to achieve our goals in the most efficient way. Clock time is crucial. What would happen if we began to question this rational logic? If we chose to approach the world differently, could it be to our advantage?
Questions like these motivate the Berlin-based Swedish artist Ninia Sverdrup. In Who Counts the Steps of the Sun (2016), a video installation in three parts, she investigates our habitual ways and behaviour patterns. This leads her to questioning the most fundamental qualities of existence. Including clock time.
The film invites us to take part in a woman’s daily life at home with her husband and children, and at work. The family is played by Sverdrup’s own family, but there is something generic about the characters. They could have been other people in another anonymous northern European city.
Already in the opening of the film, there are tiny malfunctions in the daily routines. The dirty dishes doesn’t just get organized into the dishwasher, but also put back on the table, and rearranged according to principles that remain hidden to us. Similarly, the daily grocery shopping is performed as a counting game. When the woman is putting food into the fridge, she seems to be looking for a structure in the groceries. An order that she doesn’t quite seem obtainable. Or rather, is there a different kind of logic at play? – one that we simply aren’t aware of?
The film is structured around a series of rituals, or trials, that could be described as fundamental research into the modes of existence. There is a gaze that uses personal experience as a mode of reaching deeper insight. The camera is often fixed, using long shots, and the narrative is played out within a single scene. Instead of waiting for something to happen, we are invited to simply watch the existing: the room, the objects, the woman and her movements.
The sound of a watch ticking returns on numerous occasions during the film, and gives rhythm and spaciousness to the narrative. The clock starts off as a framework for the woman in her daily life, but eventually time becomes her companion, in a series of experiments engaging the senses and perception.
When we think about clock time we perceive every unit of time as a self-contained, separated moment. Sverdrup, on the other hand, is working with a more elastic concept of time, one that can be described as a pulsating presence. Time is neither linear nor circular: but rather an expression of duration. The woman’s movements in the room can be seen as a choreography, where time plays an active role. Here Sverdrup is returning to a subject she has treated in earlier works: how space-time is perceived in Japanese metaphysics. In her text ”Ma and the Four-dimensional Concept of Reality in Today´s Tokyo,” she describes how space-time is perceived as an anticipated silence, in which lies a potential for change. For each object there is a time-aspect. A wasp left by time; the seconds’ distance between hand and eye; time tied up in a pencil spiral.
In the end, time becomes one with its surroundings, and the clock is a metronome giving rhythm to the movements in the room – as well as to the film as a whole, which has been directed with a musical composition in mind.
The film can be seen as a personal critique of capitalist reification, with a gentle sense of humour and great insight into the processes and traditions of thinking. Behind Sverdrup’s beautiful, stripped down imagery there is an appeal to break away from the circle of consumerism and profit – through a resistance to efficiency and speed as the guiding principles of our lives. Instead we are introduced to a metaphysical experience that is hiding in everyday life, that we can access through changing our ways of paying attention, if even only a little.


WHO COUNTS THE STEPS OF THE SUN (2016)

40 min HD
Written, directed & edited by Ninia Sverdrup
Director of photography Carl Dieker

Video excerpt
All descriptions

About the film
by Annelie Axén
For most people daily life is full of routines. We get up in the morning, get dressed and go to work. During large parts of the day we are in a state where we do not notice the world around us: we act according to pre-settings. We make rational choices in order to achieve our goals in the most efficient way. Clock time is crucial. What would happen if we began to question this rational logic? If we chose to approach the world differently, could it be to our advantage?
Questions like these motivate the Berlin-based Swedish artist Ninia Sverdrup. In Who Counts the Steps of the Sun (2016), a video installation in three parts, she investigates our habitual ways and behaviour patterns. This leads her to questioning the most fundamental qualities of existence. Including clock time.
The film invites us to take part in a woman’s daily life at home with her husband and children, and at work. The family is played by Sverdrup’s own family, but there is something generic about the characters. They could have been other people in another anonymous northern European city.
Already in the opening of the film, there are tiny malfunctions in the daily routines. The dirty dishes doesn’t just get organized into the dishwasher, but also put back on the table, and rearranged according to principles that remain hidden to us. Similarly, the daily grocery shopping is performed as a counting game. When the woman is putting food into the fridge, she seems to be looking for a structure in the groceries. An order that she doesn’t quite seem obtainable. Or rather, is there a different kind of logic at play? – one that we simply aren’t aware of?
The film is structured around a series of rituals, or trials, that could be described as fundamental research into the modes of existence. There is a gaze that uses personal experience as a mode of reaching deeper insight. The camera is often fixed, using long shots, and the narrative is played out within a single scene. Instead of waiting for something to happen, we are invited to simply watch the existing: the room, the objects, the woman and her movements.
The sound of a watch ticking returns on numerous occasions during the film, and gives rhythm and spaciousness to the narrative. The clock starts off as a framework for the woman in her daily life, but eventually time becomes her companion, in a series of experiments engaging the senses and perception.
When we think about clock time we perceive every unit of time as a self-contained, separated moment. Sverdrup, on the other hand, is working with a more elastic concept of time, one that can be described as a pulsating presence. Time is neither linear nor circular: but rather an expression of duration. The woman’s movements in the room can be seen as a choreography, where time plays an active role. Here Sverdrup is returning to a subject she has treated in earlier works: how space-time is perceived in Japanese metaphysics. In her text ”Ma and the Four-dimensional Concept of Reality in Today´s Tokyo,” she describes how space-time is perceived as an anticipated silence, in which lies a potential for change. For each object there is a time-aspect. A wasp left by time; the seconds’ distance between hand and eye; time tied up in a pencil spiral.
In the end, time becomes one with its surroundings, and the clock is a metronome giving rhythm to the movements in the room – as well as to the film as a whole, which has been directed with a musical composition in mind.
The film can be seen as a personal critique of capitalist reification, with a gentle sense of humour and great insight into the processes and traditions of thinking. Behind Sverdrup’s beautiful, stripped down imagery there is an appeal to break away from the circle of consumerism and profit – through a resistance to efficiency and speed as the guiding principles of our lives. Instead we are introduced to a metaphysical experience that is hiding in everyday life, that we can access through changing our ways of paying attention, if even only a little.

THE NEST (2017)
In collaboration with Daniel Segerberg for the project (X)sites Kattegattleden

 

Welcome to the Nest! Here you can contemplate nature from a new perspective.

Up in a pine tree on a hill slope near by Prosten Cullberg’s road, Särö, Sweden,
we have built a spherical treehouse.

The geometrical sphere that forms the framework of the nest is constructed out of found
material from the city (slats of wooden bed frames, chair legs, curtain rods, etc). The
construction is hanging in the branches of the tree and has been camouflaged with found
twigs from the forest.

Together with residents in the immediate area, Färjås Yogaretreats and Släp´s choir,
the nest took shape in a joint action collecting twigs and interlacing them into the nest.

Inside the nest you find platforms to sit down on or you can use the natural branches of
the tree to sit on. Here is the opportunity for the visitor to have a picnic, contemplate and
enjoy the view.

Perhaps your thoughts drift away…. and the nest can serve as a model for alternative
housing, a utopian vision of living in symbiosis with nature among the trees, like
the Baron in the Trees in Italo Calvinos classic novel.

More info about (x)Sites at www.landart.se

All descriptions

Wiederaufbau

ninia_sverdrup_wiederaufbau

WIEDERAUFBAU (RE-CONSTRUCTING) (2015)

Collaboration with Verena Resch and Daniel Segerberg for the exhibition Displaced,
SCHLACHTEN Contemporary Art Festival in Luckenwalde, Germany

 

At the World Refugee Day (that was during the exhibition period) the refugees and the inhabitants
in Luckenwalde were invited to participate in the workshop that took place in the building
of the exhibition Displaced (the old Hat Factory Mendelsohn).

We used the discarded objects that were thrown away at a rubbish dumb just outside of
the Hat Factory to build a joint sculpture/installation under the open theme „Where do I come
from? Where do I go?“

ninia_sverdrup_wiederaufb2

 

ninia_sverdrup_wiederaufb4

ninia_sverdrup_wiederaufb3

All descriptions

Falling into a hangover

Falling into a hangover. Don’t show images fast
by Michelle Mantsio

 

So I’m wondering …
I was in Greece recently talking to two brothers about the situation there, and they presented Sweden as a utopia. Social democracy. It worked. Did it work? Could it work over a sustained period of time? How might you get some?
One month later I was in Klaipėda, Lithuania, at Falling from grace, a contemporary Swedish art group show based on the hangover of post-social democracy. An exhibition expressing the fall towards a lower economic standard of living in Sweden. A fall from grace for whom? For the rest of us who wish we were there, symbolically if not in reality?
Magnus Petersson’s series Sealed comprises photographs of scaled views of the Swedish family countryside home, a disappearing tradition. As models they present an ideal to aspire to. The rooms reflect a warm, soft, all-enveloping glow, which Petersson has referred to as ‘a soft Hammershoi or Tarkovsky-like afternoon glow’. Coming from the other side of the world, it felt like Vermeer—a glow from inside a house, warm and suggestive of a robust life unburdened by a harsh sun or thongs. Like all models, the images have a stillness to them, and this renders their time fixed, dead, historical. While I was drawn in by the glow and symmetry, I couldn’t help but feel like I missed the party. That I had come too late.
Ninia Sverdrup’s videos Urban scene XII: petrol station and Urban scene XIV: corner store, felt like an antidote to being too late. The work was slow. A fixed camera captured the happenings at a petrol station at night, a corner store during the day. The videos were based around ‘to have time for’, a luxury. The images had the slow plod of a moving Philip-Lorca diCorcia urban/suburban environment: nice light, easy life, boring possibly. So, while beautifully rendered, without the sound they seemed common and easy to pass by and dismiss, but once I put on the ear-phones, the sounds of these scenes began unfolding. I felt the push-pull of the tension of nothing but life happening. Certain sounds were heightened, not of conversations, but of the space, the creaks and moans of these urban environments. These scenes began to suggest that to have time (which is always a luxury), is to enable better hearing, better light and easier daily rituals.
Kalle Brolin’s Images of debt, in contrast, was fast. So fast that the microfiche whirled in a blurred Citizen Kane-like flurry. Brolin presented a video-portrait of a child (Mattias Abrahamsson) who had been portrayed in a Swedish newspaper throughout his life up to adulthood as a metaphor for changing levels of national debt in Swedish society. In the style of Seven Up!, the video showed how each year the newspaper would show an image of Abrahamsson growing and a note showing the corresponding size of the national debt. Brolin contacted Abrahamsson and his video was interspersed with a running commentary of Abrahamsson’s experiences and present life. As each year rolled through, the microfiche whirled forward and you felt analogue time passing, a historical medium showing a lost time. Images of debt managed to capture the discomforting way in which economic circumstances can make us feel we are more statistical data than human beings. Seeing a young man discuss how at times he didn’t really want to have his photo taken, and how ‘they’ came into his home, I began to feel that I was seeing the crevices in a symbolic ideal. The fall.
So, coming from Australia and knowing how I/we like things slow, I couldn’t help but wonder who we are. Are we Sweden, with a good social-democratic life and economic fortitude, or will we always aspire towards contemporary Europe and its diminishing middle class? In 2013, will we be the party or the hangover? And at what speed and in what light will we show our images?
Falling from grace, Klaipėda Culture Communication Centre (KCCC), Lithuania, 18 January – 21 February 2013.

 

ninia_sverdrup_new_zero

METHODS TO RE-EVALUATE EVERYDAY ACTIONS (2013)

Workshop in co-operation with Daniel Segerberg and artists related to New Zero Art Space in Yangon, Burma/Myanmar

 

I wanted my participants to reflect upon our social norms. What do we do everyday without reflecting? Are we satisfied with that, or is it just a norm? Can we/do we want to do it in another way? Every day we practiced one or two of these ”protests”, all together or one by one.

Some of the actions during the workshop:

Cleaning Act
Myanmar people finding the streets of Yangon dirty. Myanmar people just waiting for  something to happen. Instead of waiting, six Myanmar people and one Swede thought, “Let´s do it ourselves. WE start to clean streets and make them into ours”. But as a relay race, since a group of people cleaning the streets can be seen as a demonstration, and that is illegal.

cleaning-act
Excerpt from video documentation Cleaning act

 

Walking backwards at Bogyoke Market

Six Myanmar people and one Swede want to go backwards through the traditional Bogyoke Market. The Myanmar government do not do any  difference between art performance and demonstration. More than five people are not allowed to be gathered.

Six Myanmar people and one Swede change the performance into a repetition act. Planning: one at a time walks backwards through the market and then disappears.

At the Bogyoke Market: Six Myanmar people and one Swede waiting to start. Six Myanmar people told not to do it. Too dangerous. Swede saying, ok, then just I do it.

Swede going backwards through tailor corridor, all the way up to main passage. Still backwards turning around the corner, continuing through next corridor. People looking, starring, pointing, smiling, some angry faces, some confused faces.

Swede continuing back to starting point. Six Myanmar people gone. Swede confused. Waiting. Two of the six Myanmar people coming, picking her up. ”Come quickly: Police was here! Police telling not allowed going backwards through Bogyote Market”.

 

Individual initiatives

One Myanmar person does not like to eat in restaurants facing other unknown people. This evening Myanmar person turned around while eating.

One Myanmar person stayed in line waiting for the bus. Bus came. All people went on, except this Myanmar person, just standing still. Waited and took the next buss.

One Myanmar person went to the bakery buying bread (Myanmar people usually do not eat bread). This day he went even twice. This Myanmar person never speaks to shopkeeper. Today shopkeeper asking, why do you buy bread instead of rice? A conversation was started.

Parents of one Myanmar person always telling her to hurry up, “you are too slow”. This day Myanmar person changed position with her parents, commanded them to hurry up, “you must be quicker”.