A friendly embrace or a violent wrestle? An expectant glance or perhaps an inviting one? It is not easy to determine. The ambiguous expression runs like a thread through the pictures of Sara Appelgren. In the early suite Scenes (2002–2003) young men or men and women are mysteriously entwined. The embraces are poses collected from manuals of self-defence, reconstructed, deprived their original context, dispassionate. But like all signs they have an intrinsic meaning, ever that inconstant and complex. We search the answer ourselves and perhaps we understand.

Sara Appelgren participates in Xposeptember with a solo show at the artist run space ak28. In the new photographs on display she continues to examine the structures around us. Settings (2005) are a series of pictures from theatres from all over the world, its foyers and stairwells. Empty rooms filled with connotations – we react like Pavlov’s dogs when we see the cloakroom, the heavy curtains or the door leading to the front row. Festive expectation. A performance is about to take place. The lack of people in the pictures put a sudden light on the social behaviour we so carefully exercise in situations like these: to jointly create the syntax content-meaning-value. In the world of the theatre it becomes even more evident, as a model of the outside world. The emotional expressions of the spectator during the performance have already been described by the artist in the suite Portraits (2003–2004). Lyrical faces emerge from the dark. As if raptured by something hidden from us. The pictures are given an almost religious character; since we can only guess what the portrayed see or sense and we are obviously not the goal of their momentary happiness. Even though we find ourselves face to face with them. Settings makes the logical consequence, yet in an inverted order. It revolves around the influence and possibilities of the surroundings – the charge before.

Some pictures from the series Mingle (2006) are also shown at ak28. Here too, people emerge from the dark, in groups of two, three or more. They talk and drink, somebody turns absent-minded and look at us, like we newly arrived at the party. Inviting or excluding? Again this ambiguity. What shall we believe? The social environment, human relations and meaningful signs, all this constitutes the artistic breeding ground of Sara Appelgren. She consciously works her way through layer after layer, investigating and experimenting. In her world she takes the liberty to deceive us, make us uncomfortable, put out smoke screens, like questions without answers. What is it that we really see, what is true or false? I suppose it is in the eye of the beholder.

Frida Cornell, curator and writer, Stockholm.

(the article was published in Xposeptember/Rodeo Magazine 2006)