The artist Sara Appelgren represents Sweden through Stockholm konst curated by Frida Cornell, with her photographic series Brace yourself at the light festival Illuminate Herstory in Dublin 2019.
Sara’s work is concurrently displayed as an installation on the façade of Stockholm House of Culture & City Theatre in Sweden. The work was first conceived for Proyecto Frontera, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Mexico in 2018 (Duet composition #1), where the photographic series operated spatially with multiple viewing situations, to enhance the notion of boundaries and borders, both between people and the wider political moving body. Sara’s images can be situated as rhizomatic forces that stem from different feminist movements. Like Alexis Hunter’s (1948-2014) staged photographic works where the medium was used as a tool to lay bare or manipulate normative power dynamics within society, Sara’s photographs emphasise the current problematic situation of the returned severance of equal rights, nationality and space by political forces, acting upon individuals as well as on a global scale.
In this new iteration Brace yourself (Duet composition #2), Sara has focused on
the embrace from one point of view: the female gaze from the perspective of another persons shoulder. As the audience we only meet her eyes and the back and neck of the unknown other.
Because of this singular viewpoint the vision of the neck becomes a shield, a barrier, and the form between her being held in the photograph and me as a viewer. It activates thought of the embrace itself. Who is holding whom? Is it a gentle enfoldment between lovers or a smothering act of violence? Is it a reciprocal or a staged act, emphasising the gap between her and me?
The rendering of the images that we encounter suggests different levels of emotive circumstances and therefore Sara’s title Brace yourself has to be taken into consideration in reading the images. The silent gaze of the women and the sentence brace yourself call upon our attention. Here lies urgency; it is now time to really listen. In Sara’s work the equality discourse is reactivated with new concerns, corresponding fear, love, anger and strength, ready to change the future yet again.
Sara Appelgren, born 1975 in Nyköping, Sweden and she is a photographer and installation artist. She studied at the Royal Institute of Arts and the University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm. Her work is held in private collections as well as in several public institutions and public displays.
text by Linda Persson, artist