Text by Birthe Havmoeller / Feminine Moments
Sif Itona Westerberg, photo by Birthe Havmoeller
Danish art student Sif Itona Westerberg (above) is interested in rites and systems that create and uphold social and historical power structures. I met her at her latest exhibition Remains of Eternity in Copenhagen a few weeks ago.
In the body of work presented in her latest exhibition she deals with the dilemma of investigating a subject without polluting it in the very attempt to observe it. She is taking us on a travel through time and through solid rock. She is fascinated by the contrast between the very old and undisturbed that lies in the depths of a mountain, and the ruthless ways of modern industrial mining. The main focus of the exhibition is the traces that all acts leave behind, the silent witnesses to time, and history being made and remade.
Her inspiration for this body of work is an old sci-fi short story about a group of time travelers, who take tourists back to the age of the dinosaurs. She is fascinated by the care that the travelers of this fiction take in order not to disturb the balance of the prehistoric forest and the course of time.
Installation view from Remains of Eternity by Sif Itona Westerberg, 2013. The sculpture Anti-gravitational Levitating Plaster Path // Dual Barrier and in the back Void & Object 1-8 by Sif Itona Westerberg. Photo by Birthe Havmoeller.
Sif has produced a pseudo-scientific archive titled ‘Remains for Eternity‘. One of the objects of her archive is a series of plaster slabs titled Void & Object 1-8 with impressions of fern leaves in sharp reliefs on the surface of the slabs. The fern holding some of the oldest DNA on Earth has proven its will to grow and its ability to survive for millions of years. Perhaps there is no need for her to register it and preserve it as a semi-fossil for future generations. The pure white slabs with the fern leaves are leaned against the wall of the white cube exhibition space of OK Corral in Copenhagen. By choosing the fragile media of plaster, her works are absolutely not archival proof by Nature’s standards; a fact which she is aware of. Another of her objects, Un-Earth, introduces the visitor to an aerial photograph of an open mine, where the mining industry is turning the land into an ever growing lunar landscape, in the quest to transform metal ore into steel plates. Echo, a door-size industrial steel plate installation, makes me wonder if it is a mirror that reflects ourselves? (see photo below) or a closed portal to the past or the future?
In the middle of the room is Anti-gravitational Levitating Plaster Path // Dual Barrier, a sculpture of a path way (see photo above). The symbol of a vision (or delusion?) of a safe way for us and other space travelers to walk without changing the natural environments, which we are visiting.
Sif often applies women’s crafts such as weaving, knitting, needle point, etc. in her artistic practice. For this exhibition she has made two woven blankets titled Skin (see photo below). The colors of the striped blankets are digitally translated from photos of minerals. The shoot of her weaving material (wool and silk) looks like layers of a sedimentary rock. Layers hardened to rock during millions of years are Nature’s archive; the visual evidence and ultimate proof of the ephemeral quality of ‘time that has passed’.
Detail of the installation Void & Object 1-8 by Sif Itona Westerberg. Photo by Birthe Havmoeller.
Echo by Sif Itona Westerberg, 2013. Photo by Birthe Havmoeller
About Sif Itona Westerberg
Sif is a visual artist and a claymation video maker. She has a BFA from The Funen Art Academy, Odense, Denmark, and is now doing her last year at The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen, Denmark. ‘Remains for Eternity’ is her third solo exhibition. Alongside her creative practice she has been evolved in organizing the Copenhagen Queer Festivals and other events for young queer people, who are questioning the norms of our mainstream heteronormative culture.