Galleri Magnus Karlsson presents Petra Lindholm’s eighth exhibition at the gallery. For the exhibition Stream, she has worked simultaneously with textile images, video and sound. A six meter panoramic landscape – her largest textile work up to date – together with a suite of assemblages and a new video with a theme and sound that links it all together, form the new exhibition.
What kind of imagery have you worked with for Stream?
I have gone back to the landscape and only related to that theme. Limiting the content gave me more freedom to experiment. It is a stream of landscapes that have emerged through memories, my subconscious and through images I have looked at before. I have worked on some textile assemblages in large format, a series of smaller works and an abstract video with a sound composition. I wanted to see what happens to the material, the transparent fabric, when I go up in size. The video is displayed on a small square monitor and the soundtrack from the work is important throughout the exhibition. The circle as a form reappears both in the textile works and in the moving images in the video.
The circle seems to be readable both as a body and an opening. What are your thoughts on it?
I saw a picture of the earth taken through a round window from inside a space capsule. The narrative changed when I saw the earth through that round window. In a larger perspective, we are in the middle of life’s cycle. Everything goes in circles. Nature’s cycle, when something dies, it gives new life to something else. The circle is eternal. The sun and the moon are important fixing points, they are both body and opening from my perspective on earth.
What questions interested you during the working process?
I have been thinking about the air in the landscape. Air is the component of life. When I look at my landscapes, I’m not sure a human could breathe in them. I often go back to NASA’s archive with pictures and videos from Mars. Small robots on wheels have documented the landscape and sent data back to Earth. It is both beautiful and desolate at the same time. I have thought about the earth’s pulse and how my landscapes sound. I have been interested in electromagnetic fields, sound waves, light waves, the biosphere, the aether, what is not visible but still affects us. Another thing is the sound, it usually comes first in my projects in the form of a song. This time I have started from eight tuning forks, they have toned me in the right direction.
Tell me more about the tuning forks. Is it a physical object that you used?
It is a physical tool that produces a fixed pitch. There are many different frequencies to choose from. Through the tuning forks, I have gained a better idea of how sound breathes, lives, vibrates and how it affects us. Technically, it’s about tuning something in the right tone, usually an instrument. You can also tune the atmosphere of a room or a human body. The frequencies I used in my video all have a cleansing and de-stressing effect.
I think that your work contains both a scientific and spiritual search. Do you want to tell me more about it?
I have always thought about how the world and we humans work. There is always something to investigate. Usually, it is something in the human psyche that is the starting point. If my process becomes predictable, smooth and simple, it will be boring. I need challenges. My most recent research item, before the tuning forks, was hypnosis. It started with me wanting to get in touch with Mother Earth. I first took a long and thorough class to learn how to hypnotize people. I soon realized that I could not hypnotize myself, so I went to a more experienced hypnotist who could help me. And in the end, my encounter with the earth was very good. The tuning forks also result in a kind of understanding-human-category. I am currently attending workshops with tuning forks in focus to understand in depth what these tones do to my body and soul. One reason I became an artist is that it helps me understand myself better. I am constantly looking for answers to the big questions.
Do you think that you as an artist have a responsibility to convey the big questions to the audience?
I think all artists convey emotions to the audience with their art. It may be a responsibility, but above all it is an opportunity to convey our time through art. We artists have our sensitive antennas out and we pick up currents in our world. For me personally, life and art are mixed together. Thoughts I think about in everyday life become art. I always have a desire to be able to convey my ideas of us all being connected, that we are fractals of infinity. We all strive for love, to be seen and to be a part of something. I have no clear answers, just a hope of giving the visitor a hint to spin on when they leave the exhibition.
Working with textile images and video can seem very different. Can you tell us how you came up with that combination?
I have a need to make pictures and to combine colors. I cannot paint, I have never practiced it. Never painted an oil painting. I come from music and print making. I liked the directness in print making, and the process of adding colors in layers. I started with video in the early 90’s. Back then, I filmed slides with psychedelic patterns with people moving rigidly in the foreground. I wanted to create images with many layers. It became easier as technology advanced. We got cable TV in our high-rise building quite early and MTV was a great inspiration that I had with me when I started making videos. Both the channel’s unrestrained visual language and the fact that you could combine moving images with music.
Almost all my films contain a scene with a transparent curtain, in the films it creates distance. A few years ago, I tried to detach and display only the curtains as objects in a room. I did fabric installations, layers-on-layers with lights behind, and it created a nice dreamy effect. But I felt that I had no interest in developing it further, so I tried to glue the layers of fabric on panels instead, and that’s what I’m still doing. It has continued to be interesting as there is so much to explore with the fabrics, glue and color combinations etc. This is also part of my research, but on a material level. Gluing fabric is a bit like editing a video, you can remove a layer if it fails. In the videos I can also erase a layer and redo.
The layered imagery is perhaps your hallmark. But the feeling is that you have gone from the narrative, almost documentary, to the abstract and ethereal. Do you agree?
I have simplified the imagery and soundtrack in my latest video work. I have gone inwards and tried to describe in images what the sounds look like, only devoted myself to finding pictures for the frequencies. I usually work intuitively and open minded. I like to work like that, but now I have set up a frame that I have stayed within, even in the textile works that contain only light, air and landscape. It is especially the tuning fork 174 Hz that helped me to focus.
Petra Lindholm (b. 1973 in Karis, Finland) lives and works outside Älmhult in Småland, Sweden. She studied at The Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, Sweden (1996–2001) and has exhibited at galleries and museums in Sweden, Finland, Germany, Italy and USA. She is represented in the collections of Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden, Malmö Konstmuseum, Sweden, Borås Konstmuseum, Sweden, Västerås Konstmuseum, Sweden, EMMA, Esbo, Finland, ProArtibus, Finland and Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland. In 2001 she received the Maria Bonnier Dahlins scholarship, in 2006 she was awarded third prize at Carnegie Art Award and in 2018 she received Axel Theodor Sandsberg’s prize from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm. During the last years she has finished a number of public commissions where she works with site specific installations and sculpture.
Installation views, Petra Lindholm, Stream, 23.4–28.5 2022. Photo: Nora Bencivenni / Galleri Magnus Karlsson