Why did you want to sit and work in these old rooms from the 17th century? I came up with the idea for this performance after I first saw the space; I think it indirectly brought my idea into focus. I didn’t want to do a conventional exhibition. Instead, I wanted to meet the viewers in a situation reminiscent of Courbet's The Painter’s Studio, only in real life. This was my first exhibition as Ylva Snöfrid after all.
How prepared were you in terms of what you were going to fill the empty canvases with? My method is completely intuitive. I knew that the rhombic paintings might have eyes on them, and that there would be some mouths, but it’s all a process. What is in the reflections in the eyes varies depending on the location and the lighting. I added the red to the mouths, and I decided to include my pulled wisdom teeth there as well. I started out with a general feeling, but the actual process of arriving at the result through self-criticism was the same, even with the audience in the room. I took them along for the ride, a ride that is going to end at 4pm this Sunday. I haven’t quite decided on the subjects for the last five paintings, but I’ve arrived at the core subject now: it is myself, as a three-sectioned human doll. Ylva Snöfrid, the third subject of the exhibition.
The eyes, the open mouths, the teeth… What do they all mean? From the Eyes of the Painter, is a quote from Foucault’s THE ORDER OF THINGS: An Archeology of the Human Sciences. It’s taken from the chapter on Las Meninas by Velazquez. I’ve held on to my wisdom teeth ever since they were pulled, and they’ve been a recurring motif in my images. The mouth and breath, and the mouth as a cave; so tight! And yet, we live.
What does repetition signify for you? I think of it more as variations on a theme. I approach it like an icon painter: I’m executing a motif that is part of the universe, and which might exist as samples[JS1] of reality. Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev is about this process of being an artist, about doubting and creating.
What has it been like to paint in front of an audience? It’s been fantastic! I’ve enjoyed this relationship with the audience, and they have become both subjects and cocreators as a result of their presence. It makes me think of when Ariane Mnouchkine founded the Théâtre du Soleil;
how she uncovered the whole process of theatre and exposed its illusions along with the audience in a way that made it both mundane and magical.
What’s next for you? Next week is the opening of the group exhibition Children of the Children of the Revolution at Färgfabriken, which is curated by Jonathan Habib Enqvist, and I’m participating in that. My wonderful grandmother passed away at 95 years of age during this exhibition at CFHILL, and so I’ll also be attending the funeral to say my farewells.
I’ve been interviewed in Pavilionesque 2, a magazine by artist Paulina Olowska, which is going to be published this spring. After that, my plan is to return to Athens as soon as possible, to continue working on The Painter’s Studio in the Shadow World, my artwork there, which is also my home.