• C-print

Point Blank: Katarina Löfström

"My work is very much about condensing, reducing and finding the lowest common denominator of notions that might be super complex and unfathomable. Like death, space, violence and love. I try to create condensed meditations on things that bug me, puzzle me, scare me.", says Katarina Löfström in our interview, in conjunction with her new solo exhibition at Andréhn-Schiptjenko in Stockholm.


Katarina Löfström, Point Blank, Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm, 2021. Image courtesy of the gallery


C-P: Run us up to speed with developments in your artistic practice in the studio since your last gallery exhibition with Andréhn-Schiptjenko quite some years back already.


K.L: Since my last show with the gallery in 2013, I’ve been exploring ideas of sculpture in relation to my films. I’ve been experimenting with alternative ways of working with moving image/animation, resulting (among other works) in a series of large-scale outdoors sculptures called Open Source. They consist of big screens, all with the ratio of different film formats (16:9, Cinemascope for example), covered with thousands of loose hanging silver sequins. The material looks like digital pixels, reflects its surroundings and moves along with the wind, creating a moving portrait of the environment in which the work is placed. I showed one on Nybroplan in Stockholm (Open Source (Panavision) last summer, invited by Stockholm Konst. The original one Open Source (Cinemascope) is now part of the permanent collection in Wanås Sculpture Park in Skåne. I’ve been working with a couple of new films, and with a series of public commissions. Most of it revolving around ideas of movement, animation and visual music.


Katarina Löfström, Point Blank #120, UV-print on birch plywood, 30 x 30 cm


C-P: It’s said that the exhibition titled Point Blank departs from the intersection between violence, transcendence, and desire. Could you elaborate on the part that relates to violence that finds itself in the exhibition and various works?

K.L: My starting point for the film Point Blank (and the stills prints shown together with it) is an exploration of the formal similarities between graphic shooting targets and esoteric/religious mandalas. I find the different definitions of focus in this imagery intriguing, and a great way for me to visualize some of our most basic human drives. They both deal with activating the gaze and getting into “the zone”, but for completely different reasons.


Katarina Löfström. Photo: Jean-Pedro Fabra Guemberena

C-P: You mentioned ratio of film formats as a point of departure for recent works and have always worked a lot with film (there’s a whopping number of 14 film works in distribution through Filmform). As you look back in hindsight at some older works like Red Light, Whiteout and An Island, what are some things you’re struck by yourself about your own seminal artistic production?

K.L: My work is very much about condensing, reducing and finding the lowest common denominator of notions that might be super complex and unfathomable. Like death, space, violence and love. I try to create condensed meditations on things that bug me, puzzle me, scare me. Trying to make ciphers or to decode what is not for us to understand. It might sound grandiose, I know, but there is a hope that I might be able to communicate these feelings to others by being intentionally vague, abstract and open. I let works be out of focus, hazy, too large or too small to prompt a perceptual reaction. Am I too close or too far away from the screen? Do I need to squint, defocus or look behind me? This is a method to make the viewer a bit insecure; to sharpen their senses, to create an active gaze. By creating a surface that others can pin their projections to, I hope to connect to some sort of basic human experience. I give leads into what the work might be about by giving hints in the titles, but never in any storytelling.


Looking back at my earlier production I can totally tell what I was preoccupied with during the making of certain work. Even though I might see it as completely abstract and set apart from the rest of my life, it never is in the end. Sometimes, watching a work a while after it’s made, it is like recapping a surreal and weird dream you just had. While telling it to others, you realize not only that it is super obvious what the dream deals with, but also that people you are telling it to "got it" way before you did. Seemingly abstract works like the mentioned An Island springs from a crushing feeling of homesickness and loneliness while living abroad. Whiteout is a mediation on what it looks like staring into the sun; an idea conceived while waking up from falling asleep too long on a beach. Really basic ideas and emotions, churned into something else.

So I definitely see a method that I seem to keep to. Subject matters and starting points of ideas and projects do change along with my life.


Katarina Löfström, Point Blank, Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm, 2021. Image courtesy of the gallery

C-P: When we last met we were speaking about how your work is related to differently by people in various places. In a time when the figurative is very much emphasized in art as compared to the abstract as in first decade of the 00’s, I’m compelled to ask how the reception of your work might seem to differ from time and place, as you see it yourself.

K.L: It’s true, I’m getting different readings of my work in different contexts, places and times. When I started making my abstract videos, there was a lot of storytelling and punky video works out there. Video and photography were the hot mediums, and a lot of it was referencing literature, film history and art theory. I didn’t really fit that bill. Things got more market-oriented and ”high production value” in the '10s, with another kind of gaze and clientele to relate (or not) to. The art world wasn't that into moving image anymore, which led to less attention in terms of market, but more attention from the scene interested in the medium itself. Now we’re back to a big interest in the figurative and a lot of looking back at modernism. Depending on the audience, people pick up on modernist/formalistic angles (painting in the expanded field) or popular culture/trash culture references in my work, while others see hints to transcendental/psychedelic stuff. However perceived, I think it’s important to stay focused on your core ideas, even though you might not get the reading that you intended or sought.


Katarina Löfström, Point Blank, Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm, 2021. Image courtesy of the gallery

C-P: What’s next for you and lying ahead in 2022? K.L: I will continue working on a series of works dealing with the third leg of my threefold mission to work around the big human drives; violence, transcendence and desire. I deal with violence and transcendence in the show Point Blank on show at Andréhn-Schiptjenko. The new sculptures, installations and films are dealing with desire. I work towards a broader presentation of my work, from when I started up to present time, perhaps turning my abstractions into a yet bigger narrative.

Ashik Zaman


Katarina Löfström's Point Blank is showing at Andréhn-Schiptjenko in Stockholm through October 30.


www.katarinalofstrom.com

www.andrehn-schiptjenko.com