A conversation with Berit Lindfeldt

Artist Berit Lindfeldt (BL) in conversation with curator Theodor Ringborg (TR)

TR: You are known, among other things, for your ability to use apparently simple, everyday materials in addressing life’s major issues. What is it about these basic materials that appeals to you? And what comes first: the issues or the materials you work with?

BL: I think what appears simple and down-to-earth perhaps best corresponds with what I am trying to do. If you want to get under the surface, beyond the dissemblance, the gesture, and create a form for something enduring and original, then the material needs to convey that very same feeling. There is beauty in something with no “look” or value; something that just is and must be conquered. It’s up to me, to find the right form. You might say that an experience is examined in the material. I can choose malleable and direct materials, such as clay, sheet metal and Masonite, or turn to scrapped objects and worn materials that perhaps already have a history. It’s an ongoing dialogue between me and the materials.

TR: Some of your sculptures on show at Bonniers Konsthall consist of parts mounted together to form a whole. The actual joins are often visible to the viewer, such as the metal wires in the work Puppa (Pupa). What can you say about these repairs or scars in your works?

BL: When these works were created, it was simply about getting my hands into the material. It was an extreme situation, preoccupied with grief, and the work was a refuge and my practice with handicraft an asset. In this process, the gradual creation of a form, piece by piece, step by step, with no end in mind, I assembled materials with what was closest to hand; I sewed together the pieces. The sluggishness of the work made something evident. The broken and painful could be given form, even for me. That’s often the way, I think, when you let your hands work independently of your mind.

TR: The titles of your works are frequently direct and to the point. What is your process for naming your works?

BL: I like titles and I like words. Titles often arise while the work is in progress, as a parallel formulation. I want the name of the work to be open, beautiful, simple and maybe provide an entrance point. Exactly as I want the work to be! Everything has to work together in this intuitive ambiguity.

TR: You have said that when you enter your studio a kind of timelessness exists and that you are there with yourself at all ages. What do you mean exactly and how does this manifest itself in your works?

BL: Well, certainly it has to do with the studio being entirely my own space. There I can both forget myself and be myself at the same time. Everything is permitted; it is a space of possibilities where anything can happen. A sense of both privilege and calling can arise, a sort of “stipulation” that calls for responsibility. It makes me quite strict, in the midst of all the fun, and that’s what I balance myself on, all the time actually. To remain there, in uncertain territory, in the unpredictable: that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

Photo: Berit Lindfeldt, by Christer Lundqvist