Containing personal and fictive stories, participatory elements and networking, Paula von Seth’s practice takes the form of video, performance and events. Through her work, von Seth explores performative aspects of identity formation, cultural translation, knowledge production and art value; and in doing so opens debate on the possibility of a democratic approach to cultural analysis.
Swinging with Neighbours, 2004 was an art and poetry event comprising performances, poetry readings, lectures, open discussions, site-specific works and collaborations over a period of 5 days. The festival appropriated various spaces, such as a bath boat, a garage and a pedestrian tunnel as well as in being carried out in cafés and art spaces. A different film was showcased each day from the series The Neighbour, 2001 – 2006, a collaborative project between von Seth and Carl Dieker. In this series, 70 poets and artists from Russia and various Scandinavian countries are interviewed in their homes discussing personal perceptions of the terms ‘neighbour’, 'avant-garde' and metaphor'. The films address individual and often conflicting perceptions of ‘the local’, highlighting the construction of understanding through language. The publication, Swinging with Neighbours, 2006, is a 1000 page poetry and essay anthology produced as a companion to the film series Neighbour.
In Are we so different or so alike?, 2004, von Seth collaborated with Russian artist ‘Gluklia’ Natalia Pereshina to choreograph a performance with 8 Swedish businessmen dressed in suits. The performance involved a procession of businessmen into the space, each carrying a small child’s dress, which was used initially as an aesthetic object and later becoming an object embedded with personal meaning, yearning and nostalgia. When presented in Liljevalchs Konsthall in Stockholm, 2004, the performance was preceded by a reading by both artists of texts inspired by conversations and discussions held with each businessman in the preparation stages. The performance and its preparation became a site for exchange between the business and art worlds, exploring presupposed oppositions and inviting the general coexistence of likeness and difference.
In True Feeling, 2006, von Seth presents two women, one white Swedish and the other black South African, each recounting the same narrative about an unseen third female. The two versions of the same scenario reveal radically different personal expectations, ways of interpreting and stereotyping. The work serves to highlight the complexity of story-telling, translation and interpretation. Displaying the work in an anthropological museum context, von Seth also problematises the position of viewer by contrasting an ‘on the road’ documentary style against an official ‘interview’ style. Thus, von Seth playfully interferes with our perceptions and leads us to think about the contextual presentation of this personal testimony.
Von Seth compiled a body of research in South Africa which explores the legacy of apartheid in the lives and practices of contemporary artists. This research formed the springboard for von Seth’s enquiry during her residency at Gasworks.
Von Seth was the 2007 recipient of the Konstfack Graduate Residency Award, offered to a graduating MA or BA student of the Fine Art Department of the Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm.
International Residency Programme: Open Studios
Gasworks’ International Resident Artist, Paula von Seth presented an Open Studio.
Preview: 21 June 2007. 6.30- 8.30, Open Studio: 22 - 24 June, 2007. 12 - 6pm.