The Everyday Magic

by Anna Sabrina Schmid

Published in BE magazine #24, 2017 

Seductive aesthetics, organic forms and haptic attraction characterize Åsa Cederqvist’s works. Her handling of fabrics, rope, glass, paint and earth, and the staging of their materiality create an affective impact above and beyond formal vocabulary and the production of meaning. Her sculptures, installations, performances and videos aim for non-rational understanding. Cederqvist works on an artistic expression whose effect is completely intuitive, beyond language. Topics of naturalness and originality are evoked, without being exploited for normative definitions; on the contrary, they are used to reference the transformative principle of all being.

Cederqvist chooses play as a working method to stage her material. She defines the framework within which she works like a session. Objects and material in particular become equal co-players, influencing events alongside the performers. Cederqvist’s sculptural installations – autonomous as well as functioning as a stage or film set – are surreal, often absurd in character; associations arise between abstract and concrete forms; everything seems to be in the process of coming into being and changing.

This investigation into transformative processes occurs on different levels: on the one hand, in works such as the five-channel video installation The Cabinet (2011) and the performance The Shit comes from Within III (2008), the creative production process itself is the subject under examination. On the other hand, it is about cycles of civilization, e.g. in the video installation Civilization – The Pleasure Principle (2013), which shows the preparation of drinking water in sewerage works, or the soap sculpture Ambiguous Vanity (2013), whose material was obtained from residue fats of the catering industry. The diverse transformations of our lives between birth and death are shown in works like the installation-based, filmic video project Mama Dada Gaga (2014–), in which the artist works with her mother, who suffers from Parkinson’s and her small daughter, or the sculptural installation Gestures and Gaps (2015-), where the various functional contexts of body openings, in particular the mouth, are examined as a theme.

Åsa Cederqvist describes her artistic practice as “an investigation of everyday magic”. She is primarily interested in the essential aspects of our lives, the permanent transformations, the stages of transition, and the speculative.