Interview Maja Fredin

Senior Curator Yuvinka Medina (YM) in conversation with grant recipient Maja Fredin (MF).

YM: Even if your artistic background is in textiles, you work in a variety of media, including photography, video, sound, sculpture and performance. Tell me about your artistic process and what motivates you to explore and work with so many different expressions!

MF: It probably comes down to a restlessness and a narrative urge. In my practice, I battle with the dragons and demons that beset me daily in this shrinking world we live in, and where I somehow want my installations to reflect how incredibly hard it is to oppose something that penetrates all your senses at once. Now, I’m not working with smell, not yet, but you probably understand what I’m getting at. So, in that way, it’s maybe also about conviction. Not that I’m either uncertain, or over-confident for that matter, but I see my installations as stage sets and immersive experiences, where visitors and their feelings become part of the work. The more layers, the more convincing. Like a miniature Disneyland, or some other godforsaken theme park (like High Chaparral) masking as escapism.

YM: A significant part of your work consists of the manual and crafts aspect. Can you tell me more about your passion for doing everything by hand, and describe how this influences your creative process and artistic expression?

MF: That process, again, is about faith and conviction, albeit my own convictions about the importance of allowing the hand to collaborate with the mind. I believe a great deal was lost when we started letting others do our work, under the pretence that “it’s faster”, “it’s cheaper”, or, for that matter, “I don’t know how to do it myself (and, implicitly, don’t have the time to learn)”. In my opinion, that attitude to labour is lethal and rather antiquated. So, even if that’s how I live most of my life, I still want to at least try not to base my artistic practice on that approach. Textiles are the materials that have always been around me, as both my grandmothers were very interested in sewing and handicrafts and always made sure I had opportunities to keep my hands busy. So, it’s maybe not at all unexpected that fabric is the material I was most deeply affected by, partly due to its ordinary and accessible nature, but also its political role in society and history. And then, there’s something unbelievable about the three-stage rocket “skill-time-money”, because after devoting hundreds of hours to sewing my prawns, for instance, I’ve managed to dupe at least myself into believing that they deserve a place at the table.

YM: You have a singular talent for using humour and wit to comment on contemporary consumerism and dreams of luxury. What are your views on humour as a powerful tool in your artistic practice, and how do you think it impacts on how your works are experienced?

MF: Thanks, Yuvinka! Humour, as I see it, is one of our sharpest survival strategies, and I would even say that without humour we would no longer be human. Used correctly, and together with art, this tool can help me approach issues that I would otherwise feel infinitely distant to with other approaches. Having said that, a joke doesn’t always have to be funny to be brilliant, it could just as well fall flat. And that moment between laughter and the flat fall that’s where I find a nerve and want to place myself together with you who experience my art. It sort of puts me in a state of madness, when I pass the threshold and make myself at home in the awkwardness. But even if laughter has the power to bring people closer, it also has an incredible capacity to tear us apart. So, it also feels quite nice to invite laughter in something as deadly serious as my interpretation of reality.

Image: Maja Fredin. Photo: Pär Fredin.