Independent curator and writer with an MA in Curating Art from Stockholm University. I have an interest in cross-disciplinary thinking, collective processes, artistic response to societal issues, and discussions about public art. I work with exhibitions, research-based art projects, Artist-in-Residence and writing. In addition to self-initiated projects, I take freelance commissions for, among others, the Royal Institute of Art Stockholm, Iaspis/Swedish Arts Grants Committee, and the Public Art Agency Sweden. (Read more)
Iaspis Open Studios is a one day long art programme that happens twice a year. The spring 2020 edition was organised and curated by Sara Rossling. For a whole day, the current iaspis grant holders generously opened the doors to their studios and invited the public to hear about their practices and see some of their work in progress. Iaspis Open Studios presents a programme of artist talks with invited guests, art events, lectures, moderated discussions and bar.
Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 situation and the restrictions regarding large gatherings, Open Studios was realised as a closed event only.
Making Matters Visible was a symposium at Jordbro Culture Centre with the aim to bring forth and discuss learnings from Public Art Agency Sweden’s government commission Art is Happening (2016–2018). The symposium took its point of departure in commissioned ongoing evaluation and research that has been performed on the project, focusing on results and what we can learn.
Art is Happening was an open call addressed to civil society that sought collaboration with groups and residents in the Million Programme housing areas throughout Sweden. An important element of the assignment was to carry out the work on the initiative of, and in collaboration with, various organisations in civil society. Many of the projects were developed in participation processes and by listening and ascertaining that which was locally most interesting to address artistically. One of the challenges was to create significant art projects involving different interests, agendas and perspectives. Another was to challenge common notions about who has the interpretative prerogative.
Researchers from different academic fields have been commissioned to follow, analyse and evaluate the project in the form of written reports. Hence, the symposium Making Matters Visible wanted to gather citizens, artists, curators and architects from Art is Happening whom, together with researchers, presented their perspectives and made visible differing conditions in order to create public art with civil society.
The symposium was co-curated by Sara Rossling and organized by Public Art Agency Sweden.
"UNDER SKIN examines the dialectics between productive power within communities and the fine mesh of sovereign power structures, like biopower, shaping our living conditions, penetrating our bodies, under the skin.
In the exhibition, Marcia Kure manifests and abstracts power as activity and relationship. She gives the immaterial a visual expression, yet a fluid and transient one – material becomes body and body becomes material. Central to the room, on top of the rigid grid floor, is a group of amorphous sculptures inspired by the power figure boli from Bamana culture. Kure’s sculptures are physical experiments made of fabrics, hair extensions and various layered and unusually combined materials constituting their bodies. With hope in the community, self-organisation, resilience and performativity, these are a tribute to independent cosmic formations and cultures creating productive power from within."
Curated by Sara Rossling
Read the curatorial statement here
SPATIAL MNEMONICS was a choreographed evening with artist duo Lundahl & Seitl at Weld in Stockholm. The event presented extracts from the artwork Eternal Return (2019)– a mixed reality installation by Lundahl & Seitl and ScanLAB Projects accompanied by a speculative novel written by architect Malin Zimm.
The evening encompassed a set of choreographed events in different parts of the venue, guiding the audience through the premises of Weld and unfolding pieces of the artwork through VR, performance, and reading. The night ended with a panel talk with artists Lundahl & Seitl, curator Björn Norberg, Director of Weld, Anna Koch, architect and writer Malin Zimm and ScanLab's representative, Max Celar, moderated by Sara Rossling.
SPATIAL MNEMONICS refers to the idea of enhancing human memory through the method of visualising spatiality. By mentally placing items in imagined, familiar places, one can increase the ability to arrange and recollect memories. At Weld, the concept was connected to how Lundahl & Seitl work with spatiality, memory, and imagination, specifically in Eternal Return (2019). The concept was also appropriated curatorially in the way items and pieces from the artwork recurred in different spatial situations throughout the evening.
Curated by Sara Rossling
Unfolding Gagnef was a presentation at Stockholms Kvinnohistoriska. Sara Rossling, Camilla Larsson and Lena Nordesjö were invited to talk about artistic research and methods of working with archival material in relation to the project The legacy of Ottilia 2017-2018.
The exhibition Ottilia Adelborg Revisited in Tengbomhallen and the adjacent Newspaper room at the Royal Academy of Art in Stockholm showed a selection of works by Marc Handelman (US), Kristina Bength (SE), Nuno Vicente (PT), Tatiana Danilevskaya (RUS), Anders Bergman (SE/FI) and Malin Pettersson Öberg (SE). During the summer of 2017 and 2018, the artists participated in an open-ended research project in Gagnef via GAIR residency, initiated by curator Sara Rossling. The project discussed cultural heritage in Dalarna and investigated the legacy of Ottilia Adelborg (1855 -1936) artist, writer, illustrator, folklore enthusiast and founder of the open-air museum Gagnefs Minnesstuga.
During the national romantic period in Sweden at the end of the 1800s, Dalarna and its pastoral landscape gained much focus. Anders Zorn, Carl and Karin Larsson, and Ottilia Adelborg were some of those artists who decided to settle there, and by depicting their surroundings, consequently, over time, they have contributed to the popularization of Dalarna that is often associated with the core of Swedish culture.
How do contemporary artists look at such craze for Dalarna today?
The exhibition showed selected works by artists who earlier had spent time in the region working and researching culture heritage and the legacy of Adelborg. Their work draw attention to her interdisciplinary interest, engagement in women’s independence as well as her ideas for preserving the old peasant culture. Furthermore, Adelborg was one of few women at this time attending higher education in Stockholm, first at the Technical School 1875–77 and then at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts 1878–84. Yet, she is overlooked in Art History books in comparison to her male painterly peers.
The exhibition revealed an ambiguous image of Dalarna, at the same time it shed light on the intriguing semblance between Adelborg’s way of trying out various methods in combination with academic interest and contemporary art practices today worth noticing.
Curated by Sara Rossling. Supported by the Ottilia Adelborg Museum.
OFF WITH THEIR HEADS! / !SDAEH RIEHT HTIW FFO
OFF Biennial Something Else, Downtown Cairo 2018
As part of the large exhibition Something Else at Darb1718, which focuses on rewriting history, the exhibition within the exhibition, OFF WITH THEIR HEADS! / !SDAEH RIEHT HTIW FFO focuses on rewriting the contemporary history using a quote from the classical children’s book by Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland. What if the reality we perceive as reality, is in fact only fiction – and the fiction is reality? In the times of ”fake news” and fake news, the news does at times seem more surreal than the most surreal of fantasies. It poses a classical philosophical problem: how can we be sure that we in fact know anything? This is also a problem young Alice meets in both Wonderland and after walking through the mirror in the sequel, Through the Looking Glass. In one of her encounters, Alice meets a Queen who acts highly unpredictable and irresponsible, and any opposition or annoying questions are met with one phrase ”Off with their heads!”, mirroring some of the real world leaders. Reading the reality through the mirror of fiction, or art, it is possible to question the structures we built up to preserve our notions of right and wrong, black and white, what is real and what is surreal.
Curated by Power Ekroth & Sara Rossling
FROM NOW ONE was an exhibition with Fanitza Ignea at Hillenbergs in Stockholm.
"From that very moment nothing was like before.
Some events seem to overthrow the world around us and change our perspectives like when a child is born or someone dies. Other events are less evident or evoked through initiation to make us see things differently. These often short-lived experiences can act as catalysts in changing set beliefs and perceptions, leading us to other ways of seeing. Sometimes such moments allow seemingly polarizing images to coexist or conflicting images to become one, like life and death can be seen to be different sides of the same coin."
Curated by Sara Rossling
Unfold a Place was a group exhibition in Gagnef and Falun that emerged through an artistic research project that spanned over a year, about culture heritage in Dalarna and the legacy of artist, author and culture worker Ottilia Adelborg (1855–1936). The exhibition was made in collaboration with the non-profit organization Gagnef Artist-in-Residence and the Ottilia Adelborg Museum with support from the region and the municipality. Participating artists were Marc Handelman (US), Tatiana Danilevskaya (RUS), Kristina Bength (SE), Nuno Vicente (FR), Anders Bergman (SE) and Malin Pettersson Öberg (SE).
"How we perceive a place is very much a reflection of who we are, our background and where we are in life. When we encounter a city, village, or any kind of geographical site, we produce a certain image of that place in accordance to our previous experiences. However, all aspects of a place can not be visible to us at the same time. Rather, these aspects might be folded away and in order to become unfolded they somehow need to be mediated.
The international group exhibition Unfold a Place takes Dalarna and Gagnef as a point of departure seen through the practices of six artists, all attending GAIR's research project The Legacy of Ottilia. The project explored cultural heritage through contemporary art, lectures, archive visits, excursions and by researching the seemingly overlooked artist Ottilia Adelborg (1855 Karlskrona –1936 Gagnef).
With inspiration from Gilles Deleuze's concept of the fold, in The Fold: Leibniz and the Barock (1988), the exhibition can be experienced through Deleuze's principle by using the fold as way to discover what potentially is contained within ‘something’. When Adelborg arrived in Gagnef 1902 she became struck by the colorful landscape and later decided to stay the rest of her life. Devoted to a self-announced mission: rescuing and collecting items, clothes and crafts related to the old peasant culture from dying out and building a museum for them, Minnesstugan. She also engaged in the women's movement, pedagogy and contributed to strengthen children's situation. Through her many initiatives and gestures she unfolds a specific view of Gagnef in a time when museums, artists, ethnologists, the homecraft movement and the local history movement together lay a foundation for a heritage canon of folk objects defining Dalarna as the core of Swedish culture.
How can we approach those ideas today? Are there alternative views of this place, folded within hers, that are not yet opened up?"
Curated by Sara Rossling
"Alter-Blomsteralfabet was an exhibition taking place in five shop windows, that together form Galleri Se Konst at a street corner in Falun. All windows were filled from top to bottom with printed textiles by artist Marc Handelman, creating an opaque draped surrounding curtain wall of vivid colors (derived from floral pigmentation) and detailed pattern. At first glance, the airy and usually open gallery appeared closed but it was actually the other way around. In Alter-Blomsteralfabet, the doubtful visitor does not have to think of opening hours or convince oneself to enter the gallery, instead the art can be viewed from the street at any time. These conditions makes the exhibition an unconscious target for the ordinary flaneur or citizen - as it reinserts art into public life. Yet, the curtains connote a domestic place reminding us of the intersection and ongoing conflict between the private and the public.
When stepping closer towards the transparent glass, sharp letters in several fonts including blackletter and runic-like alphabet that speaks for itself, begin to formulate a text. Handelman has used Édouard Glissant's essay For Opacity, in Poetics of Relation (1990), where Glissant conveys the power of opacity in identity, in relation to transparency. Moving beyond a necessary notion of “difference,” opacity is offered as a further resistance to the reductive forms of assimilation that seek to make identities transparent, graspable, and measurable to “an ideal scale.” Glissant writes: “For the time being, perhaps, give up on the old obsession with discovering what lies at the bottom of natures. There would be something great and noble about initiating such a movement, referring not to Humanity but to the exultant divergence of humanities. Thought of self and thought of other here become obsolete in their duality. Every Other is a citizen and no longer a barbarian.” Although opacity signifies visibility it does not legitimize the visible as such, much the same way as Handelman's printed textiles reformulate what is recognizable and identifiable.
In his text, Glissant cites a reaction to idea of opacity “How can you communicate with what you don't understand?” A question resonating through Handelman's body of work that digitally appropriates fonts from images used to promote nationalistic right wing ideas as an attempt to counter their speech. The attempt and combination of content and form convey and communicate a message not yet legitimized amongst these ideologies. The text runs through all windows and is somehow difficult to grasp creating a mass of letters that potentially can shape any word. Still, fragments are visible that originate from distinct corners of our society here woven together with other material from other corners of the world in a new context. Glissant believes that different opacities can coexist and thus converge and together weave fabrics. But to understand these truly and to be in relation, one must focus on the texture of the weave and not on the nature of its components."
Curated by Sara Rossling
GAIR is an international Artist-in-Residence in Gagnef, Dalarna founded in 2016 by curator Sara Rossling and artist Mattias Norström. It is an independent and not-for-profit organisation with the aim to contribute to cultural exchange through ope-ended processes, and to create a place for artists to live and work for a period of time, supported by a stipend. The aim of GAIR is also to look at and discuss culture heritage in Dalarna today. GAIR is a summer residency and collaborates with the Art Space Missionen and the Museum of Ottilia Adelborg, depending on their physical spaces. GAIR is supported by the Swedish Arts Grants Committee, the County Council of Dalarna and Gagnef Municipality amongst others.
In 2017, Sara Rossling initiated and curated a research project called The legacy of Ottilia wich investigated the seemingly overlooked artist, author and culture worker Ottilia Adelborg (1855–1936). The project offered a rich programme of excursions to art institutions and historical sights, archive visits, artist's presentations, meeting with local artists and culture workers and public lectures related to the history of Dalarna.
Performative Lecture: Women in Struggles. On the early socialist women's movement in Sweden by Petra Bauer, film maker, artists, and professor at Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm.
Presentation: Art and Society by Eugen Rădescu (RO), co-founder of The Bucharest Biennale, professor and co-editor of PAVILION, a journal for politics and culture.
Lecture: Ottilia Adelborg today Notes on contemporary art and ”preposterous history” revisited by Camilla Larsson, curator, writer, and PhD candidate in Art History at Södertörn University.
In 2018, GAIR supported the artists with funding for production, arranged individual meetings as well as facilitaded workshops and arranged an exhibition with their accomplished work, curated by Sara Rossling.
GAIR has currently a break due to a lack of funds.
Skankaloss art programme 2016, 2017, 2018
For three years in a row, Sara Rossling was a guest curator at the art and music festival Skankaloss, invited by director Mattias Norström.
Skankaloss was a collective creative melting pot in the intersection between art, music, and contemporary expressions. It was situated in a historic folk park in Dalarna for almost 20 years and has exhibited both established and up-and-coming artists from Sweden and abroad outdoors in the park, in the surrounding forest, as well as on stage.
The years 2016-2018 showed artist like Sandra Mujinga, Emelie Sandström, Iris Smeds, Simon Mullan, Tommy Sveningsson Krek, Fanitza Ignea, Liva Isaksson Lundin, Helena Lund Ek, Åsa Eliesson, Viktor Rosdahl, OUFF, Roxy Farhat + Anuscha Caroline Andersson, Alice Håkansson to name but a few.