To interfere with everyday life, I employ the method of research, and (temporary) installation and performative, interactive elements as mode of expression. The ephemeral and timebased element is essential, and terms like context, site, dialogue and process are crucial in my work.
The focus on context stems from the desire to create – or point out – connectedness in a society in which fragmentation is significant. In this way I regard as interesting to interweave different places by help of common or contrasting aspects. Beside of work on site (what I mainly did the recent years), I develop concepts for gallery space to tell about these places.
The development of my art work might be seen as research into living conditions, looking for the respective site’s daily life and narratives. Questions arise about identity of place (which by definition might be urban or natural space inhabited by or with traces behind human beings) and people, their shifting relationships in a changing world, and the relation between mental and physical space. The main focus is on exploring geographically isolated communities, where nature has strong impact on daily life and human beings.
In my choice of materials and media, I find a field of tension in contrasting the physical with the world of modern technologies. The physical material links us to the ”real” (present) world, meanwhile technologies like video, photography or sound refer to another, rather transient reality by representation and abstraction. The latter one is the way how we relate to most places – by means of tv, internet, cell phones and webcameras. Distances become abstract due to the same technology and our own ways of mobility.
My current project is related to the International Scientific Research Center in Ny-Ålesund in Svalbard (a norwegian Archipelago in the high arctic) , looking at daily life in the period of polarnight, with complete darkness all day round: Scenic Spaces of Isolation. Where sight is lacking, all the other senses get activated.
The resulting photographs – which never show anything else then artificially lit and thereby limited outdoor spaces, never giving an outlook onto the surrounding magnificent landscape – don’t reveal the lack of difference of light conditions at noon or midnight for the beholder without any additional information about time and place.
And even though there is given more information than imagery (explanations, numbers of latitude and longitude, distance from the norwegian mainland) – is there any way to translate the bodily experience of distance, darkness and isolation by media and technology?
I use photography, video and sound as much as physical space itself to investigate into these issues, by a combination of material from the stay in Svalbard and the journey to get there, and real time data transferred from one of the research stations in Ny-Ålesund.
Sabine Popp, 1.november 2011