Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam 2007
curator; Roel Arkesteijn
8 individual drawings, 24×32 cm crayon on paper
Rear projection on free hanging screen of the 8 mm silent film loop
Text from the exhibition catalogue
“There are times in the northern part of the world
When the ice is too thin to carry the weight of a human body,
Yet too thick to let a small boat through,
Then you wait”,
comments, Etta Säfve (Uppsala, Sweden 1973).
She calls these periods, which form a reference point of her work, “in-between moments”.
She gives such hushed moments- when time appears to stand still and the few humans that populate her work become one with nature – almost mystical dimensions.
And she manages to do so without her work becoming in any way sentimental.
Take for instance, her film Snowfall, where we see a man in a snowy landscape shaking trees.
The snow falls over him in dense, misty clouds.
In the film, it is obvious that this totally useless action has become a blissful activity.
The delicate pastel drawings that Säfve has been making recently also feature sublime natural scenes, from dainty flowering springs to solitary swimmers in vast seas.
Säfve argues that unnecessary actions bring us into contact with the present moment.
The experience of time is also a part of her working process.
When filming, she records only once, so that the film can be compared to a one-time performance.
She retains in the completed film flaws which occurred during filming, claiming these make the film “real”. Errors or traces also appear in her work on semi-transparent tracing paper. When a drawing looks like it will not be successful, the sheet is turned over and she starts again.
Traces of the failed drawing can be faintly seen through the paper and claim a place in the new composition.
Saskia van Kampen