Works / Time Capsule

Paula Urbano, Time Capsule in Viskningar från förr, 2021, Ateljé SKHLM, Folk i Skärkholmen, Stockholm. Photo: Paula Urbano

C-P: One sculpture found in the exhibition to bring to light is your mini curiosity cabinet housing memory within. The chosen form feels very apt in an exhibition like this. What can be said about the work?

P.U: The whole idea with the exhibition came about when I was moving to the house where I live now. When emptying the cellar in a box, I found a shoebox filled with notes, calendars, concert tickets, school photos and other saved small items. I thought they had a certain value today as almost archeological artefacts about a certain time-lapse in the end of the 80s/beginning of the 90s in a suburb to Stockholm. When I was asked by FOLK i Skärholmen if I wanted to make a solo exhibition in the gallery, I suggested to make an artwork with the small notes I had found in this box. They liked the idea and approximately 1,5 years later was the opening of the exhibition, titled Viskningar från förr (Whispering from before).

All the small items in the box are interesting in different ways but that they are fragile and delicate make things challenging. How to work with this material as an archive of memories in the exhibition without the risk of getting them damaged was something to consider. I came to think of a curiosity cabinet while in dialogue with my friend and artist Anna Kinbom. While searching for a real curiosity cabinet I found this sweet little box in glass and brass online that even as the measurements were specified on the webpage, I did not quite understand exactly how small it was going to be until I had it delivered by post. It is a glass box dated back to the early 1900’s to store a pocket watch. Instead of a pocket watch I hung a mini notebook in a keychain that was one of the items in the box of memories.

Making an exhibition is to put together a lot of disparate thoughts in your head. But when I put the little notebook in the keychain in this hundred years old pocket watch rack, I realized that the whole idea of the exhibition was represented in this little piece of less than 5 inches of height; Time Capsule. It in turn became a visualization of the time aspect in the work Viskningar (Whisperings). Among all the small items I found 37 pieces of written pieces, tucked together and which had been passed around between me and my classmates around our school desks. They are filled with secrets, internal jokes and references between best friends. Today they are almost impossible to understand entirely, but nevertheless they constitute authentic dialogues from a time before mobile phones and the Internet.

Viskningar formally results in 20 glass plates in the size of 8×10 inches, sticking out from the wall. By presenting them in that way, I at least relate to photography; to the glass plate of the large-format camera. In the exhibition it is as though the spectator is looking through the viewfinder of a large-format camera just before pushing the button that lets the light expose the negative. I consequently come to think of Alfredo Jaar’s famous quote that reads ” You don’t take a photograph. You make it”. This workis like exhibiting the act of photographing. I mean it is impossible to photograph the past so this is the closest I can come to capturing fragments of the quotidian life of a handful of girls from yesteryear aged 11-14-something.

Ashik Zaman

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