Research & Art

Noora Sandgren, Water breath for the beginning.

The Water breath for the beginning is an installation in which Noora Sandgren has been working with re-creating the basic weather conditions necessary to life.
Water breath for the beginning,2019. Image by NooraSandgren.
Water breath for the beginning, 2019. Image by Noora Sandgren

Water breath for the beginning

I`m participating in this exhibition with works created in a home garden in Hiidenvesi. Often working outside, I seek to find ways of collaborating with the weather, insects, plants and found outdated light-sensitive materials. The photographs from these slow Being-with processes are created by sun-drawing a confluence of different material entities; sometimes this image of shared chemistry is built by rain, snow or decomposing compost. Other times I lay my heads weight on a sensitive paper and let the sun draws an image of the mixture of photographic and human chemistry - breath, sweat, saliva and tears. These camera-less photograms come into being through long exposures and the originals remain living as images. They are traces of the processes of `becoming-with` in shared space and time. They´re created by touch, which always rests on the Other. The analogue photographic process is often mixed with the digital in various ways; the light–time of the scanner touches their skin, or they turn into body-sensing installations, or the intimate process of becoming in decomposition might be left as an open ended happening exhibited as a living photograph. In my artistic research, I've also worked at Aalto University´s Biofilia lab, investigating poetic responses to the purifying agency of snow on polluted air.

In the current exhibition I´m showing the work Waterbreath for the beginning, which is an installation in which I have been working with re-creating the basic weather conditions necessary to life. This could be thought of as an attempt to responding to the necessity to learn the art of living in a damaged planet, as suggested by of Anna Tsing`s (et al.) inspiring essay compilation. On the other hand, I'm interested in a micro-level enabling of the continuance of the life-force of the compost matter and the microbial life inhabiting the tissues of the photographs.

The design of the installation enables clean water evaporation, creating a cyclical movement of matter inside the space. To create a `habitat` for basic living conditions, enough warmth and moisture is needed. During the exhibition, it will be interesting to see how the fungi takes over and uses the photographs themselves as growing and living medium, carving and sculpting them into map-like images. The design of this work was created in the Aalto Biofilia lab with the support of biologist James Evans, to whom I'm very grateful.

Noora Sandgren is a visual artist and art educator working with photography - its bendings and its body; she also works with installations, texts and embodies practices. She`s interested in researching the themes of fluidity, the inter- and intra-active processes of different materialities, and their liveliness within shared space, which is at times marked by entangled ecological questions. Her work is site-sensitive and often happens in her garden by Hiidenvesi. The theoretical basis of her work lies in the new materialist thinking. She has held several solo exhibitions, the most recent being at Henko 2020, which contained living photographic processes. Her art works have also been shown in various exhibitions internationally. Currently, she’s preparing a cocreational exhibition for 2021 with the HAB (High Altitude Bioprospecting) team in relation to her Field Notes research residency at Kilpisjärvi Biological Station (2019), organised by the Bioart Society. Recently she took part in the ÖRES (Örö Island) and London Alternative Photography Collective (“Test.Grow.Teach.Learn”) residencies, the latter organised for research into sustainable photographic practices. Currently, she´s participating in as a writer in an essay book on photography, to be published in 2021 or 2022. Sandgren obtained a BA in Social Psychology at the University of Helsinki and is finishing her two MAs in the Dept. of Photography and the Dept. of Art Education at the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in Helsinki.

Interview with Noora Sandgren

This interview is conducted with Noora Sandgren by Bilge Hasdemir as part of the Outre: Encounters with Non/living Things exhibition.

Read more
Graphic Design by Emery L Norton

  • Published:
  • Updated:
URL copied!