Interview by Julie Uusinarkaus | Photographs by Kristina Sedlerova and Nabil El Berni

The works of the Helsinki-based artist Kristina Sedlerova are staged set pieces, slowly revealed with time. They speak of absence, presence and existence. As the artist herself says, “Time as a concept is intriguing to me. The approaches to measuring time or having a shortage of time are topics I speculate about. I think that we can’t even talk about ‘not having time’ to do this or that, because we can’t deny the existence of time.”

The primary materials Sedlerova works with are geological sediments and degradable manmade materials. Through the process of degradation, the most interesting forms of the materials and forms appear. The material itself often determines the form of the work.

Sedlerova explains, “I enjoy the quality of time embedded in the material. When I work with natural salt from Sicily, I work with the ocean waters condensed/converted into a hard state. This physical state is temporary until new circumstances are applied. I highly appreciate nature as a given overwhelming unstable environment.”

Photograph Nabil El Berni.

To the Young Artists exhibition at Kunsthalle Helsinki, Sedlerova brings Participant. The work is a form that represents an unfinished human, a foreign body – unidentified, without class, gender, age or nationality. The material is Sicilian natural salt, formed about 6 million years ago. The salt holds the fragility of being subject to its environment, dissolving under the forces of nature or being preserved in a sheltered space.

Sedlerova has used the perishability of salt previously in the sculpture don’t look back from 2018, as part of the Helsinki Festival. Two salt monoliths were placed on the beach at Eiranranta to vanish into the Baltic Sea during the autumn storms. 

The difference is the focus on the theme of time. “Participant (rehearsal jack) is raw and sovereign, not willing to dissolve so fast. It is a step towards the unknown for me, if I compare it with the more elaborated don’t look backParticipant has an open end.”

Kristina Sedlerova, Participant (rehearsal jack). 50 cm x 51 cm x 186 cm, 1300 kg, natural salt, plastic cup, coffee, table knife, 2019. Photograph by Kristina Sedlerova.
Kristina Sedlerova, Participant (rehearsal jack). 50 cm x 51 cm x 186 cm, 1300 kg, natural salt, plastic cup, coffee, table knife, 2019 . Photograph by Kristina Sedlerova.

Participant, as does many of her works, has traces of other activity by the artist, including signs on paper. This is one way that Sedlerova brings the process into the final result. As she describes her process, “The signs on paper appear quickly and help me to catch – to document a thought, the direction and the intention itself before it disappears in the cascade of happenings and thoughts. I see my drawings both, as a tool and as the part of the final result.”

Sedlerova completed her master’s degree in scenography at Aalto University in 2015 as well as a master’s in fine arts at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2016. At the moment, she is working as an artist-in-residence at the Van Eyck in Maastricht. 

The time in Maastricht has helped develop her as an artist. “At the Van Eyck, I had to practice self-discipline even more than in Helsinki. To coordinate my way in a new environment having a year to do so. I got a clear portion of time to do or not to.”

Where will she go next?

“Mountains are inviting to me.”

Self-portrait by Kristina Sedlerova.

Young Artists 2019 exhibition at Kunsthalle Helsinki from the 30th of March until the 26th of May.

This year marks the 80th anniversary of the Young Artists exhibition, which had its debut at Kunsthalle Helsinki in 1939. Young Artists 2019 exhibition is co-produced by the Artists’ Association of Finland and Kunsthalle Helsinki and it is based on an open call, with a shortlist of 25 artists and one artist group selected for the show out of a total of 500 applications. The four-member jury chaired by artist Jaana Kokko consisted of Kunsthalle Senior Curator Kiira Miesmaa and student representatives Aleksandra Kiskonen from Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts and Miia Varis from the Turku Arts Academy.

All the artists featured this year are Elina Autio, Siiri Haarla, Jussi Haro, Venla Helenius & Anna-Sofia Nylund, Maiju Hukkanen, Hermanni Keko, Nadiye Koçak, Komugi Ando, Sini Kähönen, Arja Kärkkäinen, Jenni Luhta, Anna Matveinen, Aro Mielonen, Milja-Liina Moilanen, Anne Naukkarinen, Rosaliina Paavilainen, Leena Pukki, Eeva-Maija Pulkkinen, Salome Rajanti, Mira Roivainen, Raimo Saarinen, Kristina Sedlerova, Astrid Strömberg, Pekko Vasantola, Maria Viirros and Niina Villanueva.

Around Journal presents a series of interviews of some of the artists exhibited at Kunsthalle. Previous interview of visual artist Astrid Strömberg here.