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March of Return

"I don’t work with chance. I think the word chance is a human concept for describing "a lack of control", more or less, which indeed can be used in successful methods. There are many sequences in my process where I don’t possess control, but instead of leaving it at that, I invite the situation to become an important gap where the material can fill in and guide me. In this gap the material becomes more meaningful than me, so I need to learn from it. If you exclude "human" from "earth", there would not be anything such as "chance". Nothing that happens in nature just happens.", says Stockholm-based Konstfack graduate Kajsa Mechior, who earlier this year presented the solo exhibition March of Return at StudyForArtPlatform.


Kajsa Melchior. Photo: Lisa Ekelund, wavy

C-P: Could you elaborate on how the query that appears to be a focal point in your practice, i.e. how materials can guide you in finding form, manifests in your work as an artist?


K.M: I think that I, as an artist, feel like a small person. Not in a negative way, but I like the idea of myself, or any other human, being small before nature. Because we are. When it comes to design and art the creator is often found in big focus even though the materials that we use have a great impact on the result as they possess the power to actually decide what’s possible or not. I think I'm trying to depict the greatness on earth, even if it might seem abstract. I'm not aiming for making beautiful forms, rather to explore the borders between adjectives such as beauty and ugliness. I work hard to create design methods that enable a “dialogue” between me, as an artist, and the materials I use.


In these methods I learn how to control the balance between the voices, or acts. Sometimes, I compare my method with acting (even though I have no experience of it). In the process there are actors and directors, and the game is to find the balance. The directing power needs to find potential in the acting powers to strike a great result. The greatness is more difficult to describe for me. I'm not sure I really know what that is yet, but I suspect it is about this balance that I keep looking for. The results I like more are the ones where I consider no parts too loud, no parts too quiet. I think art is personal, and to me it is simply a way of learning. Learning about form, space, and perception. Why? I don’t know.


Kajsa Melchior, Installation view, March of Return, StudyForArtPlatform, May 12 - June 3, 2023, Stockholm. Photo: Lisa Ekelund, wavy

C-P: You incorporate natural elements both in the process of making and in the result. When for instance bringing wind in to factor the equation; what significance does the notion of chance (and circumstance) have for you? K.M: I don’t work with chance. I think the word chance is a human concept for describing “lack of control, more or less, which indeed can be used in successful methods. There are many sequences in my process where I don’t possess control, but instead of leaving it at that, I invite the situation to become an important gap where the material can fill in and guide me. In this gap the material becomes more meaningful than me, so I need to learn from it. If you exclude "human" from "earth", there would not be anything such as “chance”. Nothing that happens in nature just happens. It is all mathematics even though it is at a level no one could ever understand.


I want to make it clear that I don’t have anything against working with chance. Many great artists, such as Jackson Pollock as one example, worked a lot with chance in their method and as I understand it, it can be a way of describing the phenomenon of not having control as something important to the artistic process. The phenomenon of not having control occurs to all artists. Some do not invite it, some of us do. The importance, in my opinion, is to decide whether it is invited, and then, to decide it’s role. Is it chance, or is it something else? To me it is about human disability, and the reason for why we need to find a way to learn from materials even though we know we will never fully understand. To me, knowledge is not as important as the desire to understand.


Kajsa Melchior, Installation view, March of Return, StudyForArtPlatform, May 12 - June 3, 2023, Stockholm. Photo: Lisa Ekelund, wavy

C-P: You have a background in design and architecture, with emphasis vested in furniture back at Konstfack. Meanwhile your sculptural work is reflective of fine arts sculpture. Do you find yourself navigating being pigeonholed or the pressures to conform to labels/boxes? K.M: Yes, I do even though I try not to care too much. I think I am working a lot with the form of furniture which likely is a trace of my background. When I work on my own, I never feel held back from my background. Rather the opposite, I feel like a have gained tools for structure and for making methods. And I like the scale of furniture because it is so relatable to the body. And to me space (architecture) and object (furniture) is very connected. I learn about space through object and vice versa.


Kajsa Melchior. Photo: Agnes Strand, wavy

Whether the objects I create are sculptures or furniture is not so important to me personally, but I am used to criticism, from both fields. I mean, my furniture is not practical, sometimes not even furniture but for being sculptures they often simulate to furniture "too much". In the field of fine art, I experience an attitude of the freer form being the better, which I don’t always agree with. I am lucky, and very grateful to be invited to both realms. I enjoy working in between, probably because it keeps giving me crucial questions, of my practice, but also about form in general. Questions about beauty, function, and quality. I think, again, without putting too much pressure in finding answers these topics are urgent to always discuss.


Kajsa Melchior, at StudyForArtPlatform, Stockholm. Photo: Lisa Ekelund, wavy

C-P: What awaits you, further ahead, as far as 2024? K.M: I will be exhibiting at the furniture fair at Älvsjögård which I really enjoy being invited to. Also, I am starting up a new business with another designer to do more functional sculptures/objects (more about that to come!) and additionally I'm in the progress of designing some furniture, also with a more functional aim. Artistically, I am right now exploring how to make the human body more present in the expression of my pieces which until now have had more materialistic expressions. I am curious of how to invite the body more to the end, to see how the aesthetical expression will differ. I am invited to the Venice Biennale this April, but for now I am not sure I will be finished with this new work until then.


Ashik Zaman


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