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Changing Matters

catalog text for Changing Matters, the Resilience Art Exhibition

Museum of Natural History, Stockholm 2008

text by Frida Cornell


A pointless act or a ceaseless urge, a must.

What brings our actions to life is not always clear, sometimes even to our own selves.

Etta Säfves video piece is permeated by a silent determination, where nothing can halt what is happening, or understand its scope.

A man performs ritual like movements, or just walks without further ado, straight out into the ocean, to be engulfed and disappear.

The piece Unfinished harbor (Narcissus) is shown in Changing Matters- the Resilience Art Exhibition.

It is one part of a roughly connected trilogy of films, which can be seen on its own, as in this case, or coupled with the two earlier pieces North Sea: Low tide (Ophelia) and Unwavering (Sisyphus). All three border on the same experience of timeless being.


In Unfinished Harbor (Narcissus) the landscape is undefined, season: winter, perhaps early spring, a lone man paddling up a stream. He goes ashore and starts attaching blue birds to the trees. The subtitle Narcissus- from the Greek myth about the man who fell in love with his own reflection and finally died of thirst by the lake where he sat, because were he to drink, the image of him would be shattered into a thousand pieces- alludes to mankind’s vain ambition to ensnare and be one with nature, our own effigy. The pictures are accompanied by texts by the author Torbjörn Säfve.

As in earlier pieces by Etta Säfve, unfinished Harbor (Narcissus) is closely interconnected with mythology and literature. In using Etta Safves words one could say she deals with conditions and intervals. As if everything apart from that which we see, suddenly just stopped; an instant filed with equal parts longing and inexplicable movement.