For her first solo exhibition in Belgium, Sofia Hultén shows recent works, some of which were specifically designed for the gallery space. The exhibition 99 Problems is an embodiment of the issues that she has been examining for the past ten years. Whilst basing her work on meticulous observation of commonplace objects, this young artist questions time, memory, traces and transformation.
In the right-hand room, Hultén has installed a video monitor on the floor showing Past Particles, where she individually recorded over a thousand small objects taken from a found toolbox. This video, lasting 72 minutes, presents heterogeneous objects which no longer have any precise use (bits of plastic, bent nails, pieces of wood, ...) but which probably at some time belonged to a do-it-yourself enthusiast who saw a purpose in them. Past Particles is a work in which the fragile survival of the object is emphasised whilst opening up a process of reflection about the 'inert data of experience'.
The explosion of the content of this toolbox is counterbalanced by With Added Dimensions which, whilst having the appearance of a ready-made, is actually an object manipulated and transformed by the artist. This formal reinterpretation is also visible in 99 Problems, consisting of ninety nine padlocks locked to each other, and ninety nine matching keys, arranged next to each other, but in a random sequence. Finally, The Actual Calculated Size of a Black Hole is a photograph of a scientific book, which describes the size of a black hole if it had the same mass as the Earth. The size of the hole has been drilled through the glass of the frame, and also through the wall where the photograph hangs.
In the left-hand room, Hultén presents One Step One Time, a staircase rescued from the scrapyard, which she has carefully observed. After having identified one special features on each step (a drop of paint, a scrape mark, ...), she re-enacts the actions that led to the appearance of these features on each of the other steps. For example, the drop of paint visible on the first step is recreated deliberately on the other six steps. The artist records all her actions on video, in a close-up which, by placing us in an intimate setting, also positions us in a tense atmosphere. This work also creates a camouflage effect (where is the original, where is the copy?) that we find in the diptych Test/Tat, showing side by side a photograph of the found state of a soiled shirt-sleeve which has then been dry cleaned, re-enacted by the artist and photographed to make the second photograph.
In the videobox, is the video From the Long Story, a work taking audio-cassettes recorded by Hultén's grandmother for her grand-daughter, aged three at the time, as a starting point. The story, told in Swedish, lasts a total of twelve hours, but here it has been edited down to 32 minutes. In the manner of a storyteller, she speaks about the history of the world: how the Earth was created, the circulation of the blood and the discovery of electricity amongst many other topics.
In her work, Sofia HULTÉN presents a record of a world scattered with traces of the past, and clues which she brings back to life, thus enabling a real experience of time.