The Weekly Bubbling series introduces promising talents of the design world. For sculptor and set designer Kristina Sedlerova, each new material is an exploration. Her latest work consists of two pillars of salt that melt into the sea.
Hi, how are you?
I’m really good, thanks. It’s warm, and I’m working on an item that will be placed in an urban space, in Eiranranta. Don’t look back consists of two salt monoliths that melt into the sea because of the climate. The objects that I’m shaping refer to two persons looking into the past and turn into pillars of salt. This is what happens to people in myths and in the Bible when they look back. The destruction of the work is interesting, and at the same time, it impacts the nature directly by adding salt to the Baltic Sea that is otherwise very low in salt.
You were selected for Jan van Eyck Academie’s one-year artist residence in Maastricht. What are your expectations for the year?
It will change my life, hopefully for the better – I need some airing. The residence is a unique opportunity to focus on my own projects for a whole year. There is so much to do at home, all kinds of layers and many friends, so I’m never able to wipe the slate clean. During the residence, I’ll be able to adjust my interests and opinions and look at the world from a new angle. One’s view gets updated each time one moves and meets new people.
How did you become a sculptor and a set designer?
I’ve always wanted to do things by myself and did a lot of drawing. I was interested in many things, like filming, and I still enjoy creating moving pictures. I ended up at Aalto University studying set design because the entrance exam included interesting tasks and I wanted to get my hands on large projects. Set design didn’t include a lot of freedom, however, so I moved over to study sculpture at the Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts. I want to work independently and carry my own idea all the way through to see where it leads. Cooperation may feed the idea or break it. When I take full responsibility of the whole, there is no need for endless discussion among a group. I am free to listen to the universe and myself more.
How are your works generated?
Often the idea grows from my personal life and my observations that may be connected to history, literature or other phenomena that I’ve experienced; from a situation that involves a conflict of some sort. Don’t look back got started when I decided that it’s better to just forget a certain personal issue. My works may address a mix of very small matters and huge issues. I find the characteristics of salt fascinating – salt may be very necessary for the human beings, but then again if you have a sore…
You’ve used blood and receipts as material for your work, and your relation to materials has been acknowledged. How do you select the materials?
I was surprised about using blood myself; it’s not the first thing to consider. I always choose a material that suits the work at hand. I have an idea, and I carry it along until I know how to make it work. The material is to serve the idea, not vice versa. I can give up a material quickly if it doesn’t interest me or serve my idea anymore.
Sofia Okkonen was interviewed for this series before you, and she wanted to ask which material speaks to you right now?
Right now it’s salt. Salt is all over my place, in my clothes and in my hair. The Sicilian natural salt that I use is a sea concentrate from about six million years ago. The challenge is that I don’t know exactly how it’s going to behave. There’s a risk that the monolith dissolves too early when I’m still working on it – what am I supposed to do then? I find myself in the same situation again and again: I’ve chosen a material that I know nothing about. Each time is an exploration, which is great.
Which skill of your classmates do you envy?
I don’t envy anything in general, but some of my classmates are very good at networking, omnipresence and hanging out until the last call. That skill is useful, I assume.
What is your strength?
Perhaps irrationality or some type of fanaticism (laughs). Many of the things I’ve done have not been very profitable or sensible. But if I feel that something must be done, I trust my own feeling. At times my work is physically hard, and it makes me wonder why I’ve put myself into all that trouble. Perhaps it’s a test to know if I’m able to carry out the idea. I guess many people think it would be more comfortable to sit on a terrace on a summer day compared to sculpting a salt stone and sweating.
If you were not a sculptor what would you be?
I would like to design parks, alternative urban environments, that are nice to hang out in. I feel that I could be good and useful in that position. I hope I’ll run into that opportunity!
What else would you have liked to talk about in this interview?
I’ve been wondering why I do sculpting – perhaps I’m trying to communicate with the world that way. I don’t feel that the verbal level is the most functional way to communicate. Even if you speak every language in the world, you may not be understood. There are other levels and dimensions of communications. I can try to be sensitive and do something that is in between all of these. My work is an attempt to do something out of the ordinary and linked to many directions. But it’s fairly impossible to predict whether my work really speaks to anyone or if it’ll remain a silent lump.
Who do you admire and why?
Ensæmble‘s Alisa Närvänen and Elina Peltonen compensate each other in an exciting way. They mainly work with clothing, but they’re also taking bold steps towards videos, 3D-modelling and photography. They’re really brave young women with a delicate touch. I admire their ability to communicate: it seems the end result is specifically achieved in cooperation and they wouldn’t create the same alone. It appears that there is trust between them that feeds to the process.
What would you like to ask them?
How did you meet and realize that you want to work together?