Agential Matter (Invisible Landscapes)
Sabine Popp, stipendiat, Kunstakademiet - institutt for samtidskunst, UiB.
Prosjektbeskrivelse på engelsk:
Sabine Popp's research fellowship at the Art Academy - Department of Contemporary Art was based on the project Agential Matter (Invisible Landscapes) which examined performativity of algae, objects and bodies in instances of observation in scientific research, industrial production and artistic encounter. She will present, discuss and defend her project on Friday, 16.April online.
Agential Matter (Invisible Landscapes) examines performativity of algae, objects and bodies in instances of observation in scientific research, industrial production and artistic encounter - specific fields of discourse in society, where discourse is enacted by material engagement. It is based on a shared attention towards kelp forests as matter and landscape, and touches upon personal and public interests. The spaces of investigation are seen as sites of social practices, and performativity as an ongoing dialogue and interaction between different parts involved, with matter as one of the actants in a wider community beyond the human.
Kelp forests, laboratory, industrial site and the art space form alternately and on equal level the site for artistic research, and production and presentation of work. Elements from these sites - in form of objects, sounds, images and movements - are exchanged and displaced to question meanings and values shifting over time in the respective fields, and society.
Lines from three directions in contemporary art are brought together in testing and questioning the conceptual and aesthetic potential of matter. The project is situated between a documentary approach in its application of the camera as the observational tool and the addressing of socio-political issues and questions of landuse, on the one hand, and explorations of material processes and their affects by engaging with them, on the other, meanwhile applying methods from social practices in site-specific and studio work. The work enacts thinking by doing fueled by tendencies to be found in what has been coined as New Materialism in the last decade(s).
Matter has turned from being passive and merely acted upon, to being attributed a high degree of activity in theoretical discourse influenced by feminist thinking. In the arts the notion of passive matter became challenged already with process art in the 60s. In order to investigate agency the project examines not so much what matter is, but what it does in relation to others.
Material entanglements - with kelp as the recurring and partaking element in everyday life and seasonal shifts - are traced by different ways of acting, observing and discussing. Dialogue is carried out by doing, with the aim to create a feedback loop in the complex system of interwoven spaces. The boundary between audience/ dialogue partners/ collaborators remains unclear.
Fragments of the first three spaces - the scientific lab, the sea and the industry - are brought to the art space, to isolate them from their context, and to illuminate and reflect relationships by dissecting, multiplying and reassembling elements. Process and performativity are more important than any stable condition, as the entanglement of materialities isn’t stable but fluid. The art object appears as a momentary communicator and facilitator, not as autonomous object. Entanglements manifest performing in space, physically, and come to live in (sensible) lines and (spoken and written) words.
Sabine Popp studied previously at Bergen Academy of Art and Design, with guest studies at the University of Barcelona and at the Glasgow School of Arts. She held a position as assistant professor in Bergen from 2012-2016. She was participating in the artistic research project Topographies of the Obsolete at KhiB in this period, which invastigated the post-industrial landscape, and contributed with parts of Agential Matter to Oslofjord Ecologies, initiated by Kristin Bergaust at OsloMet. Since 2013 has Sabine Popp been member of Bergen Ateliergruppe.