Statement

 

 

In the book De Förlorade Barnen (The Lost Children, 2013), authors and journalists Katia Wagner and Jens Mikkelsen write about unaccompanied minors arriving in Sweden, only to disappear. One such example of a missing child is the 14-year-old girl Muna from Somalia who had been in Sweden for five months. She got on with her schooling and her new life with a foster family, but one day when the foster family went to do errands Muna stayed home alone, and during that time she disappeared. Her clothes were gone but her medications were left behind. When the family finally got in touch with her, she said: “Please help me, I don’t want to be here, I want to come home.” The foster parents contacted the police, who did nothing. Muna has now been missing since 2010 and no one knows what happened to her. While working on this piece I have been in contact with Katia Wagner to get permission to use material in the book as the basis for writing the music. I also wanted to hear if new information has emerged in the case of Muna. It has not. Between 2007-2012 almost 800 unaccompanied refugee children in Sweden disappeared who are still missing. It is so easy for these children to simply become statistics and statistics can be difficult to take to heart. My interest in the Group as identity marker has become evident in my art and research: The group that is collective-inclusive, exclusive, the group as threat, group security – but present are also ideas of ethnicity, gender, class, and music as the essence of a unifying force. I would love to explore and work more closely with processes that enable non-professionals’ participation in artistic collective creation, as well as running art projects close to issues of identity/group identity and the narrative/that excluded from the collective narrative. In this way GIBCA’s (Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art’s) theme this year – A Story Within a Story – is especially interesting for me as I believe
Artist talk Karin Sandberg at GIBCA’s (Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art’s) exhibition A Story Within a Story, Göteborgs Konsthall, 2015. Photo by Kjell Caminha.

 

My work is characterized by an interdisciplinary openness, embracing equal parts audio- and visual expression. The art-making process is very precise, as each day is divided into the same rhythm: breakfast, work, snack, work, lunch, work, coffee break, work, dinner, work. I find comfort in the routines of everyday life, in trying to capture the small distinctions within apparent sameness. This has been my working method for the last ten years. ‘Time’ as a central theme has created a huge archive of songs, writings, drawings and photographs. However the final outcome of my work is depending on context to decide whether it should be presented as film, music, drawings, books, karaoke, performance, or something else.

In my artistic practice I work with themes of identity, specifically identities marginalized in history and society: It’s about the stories that are not told and the voices that are not heard. I use my own voice as a medium in place of these unheard ones, for inviting the viewer into my works. To write site-specific texts and music—to compose based on literature or personal stories—has been a central part of my methodology for some years now. Projects I’ve been engaged with share an interest in language, social practice, activism, feminism, voice and collaboration, artist-led initiatives and art outside of the normal exhibition-frame. My interest in the ‘Group’ as identity marker has become evident in my art and research: The group that is collective—the group as inclusive, exclusive, the group as threat, group security… Present are also ideas of ethnicity, of gender, of the artist-as-mother, and of class-belonging. I wish to include people into my work where I raise, highlight, and question various social issues.

All this is underscored by using music as the essence of a unifying force.

 

– Karin Sandberg, 2016