By Ewan Waddell

"We are just another material". Interview with Interdisciplinary Artist, Åsa Cederqvist.

We recently caught up with Åsa Cederqvist — a fascinating Swedish artist using a variety of mediums to explore human behavior and our profound connection with nature. Åsa's work facilitates a dialogue that transcends rational boundaries, serving as an uplifting journey into our immateriality and a positive call-to-action for greater empathy for and connection with our environment.

Åsa's latest work, Gigga-annum, is an augmented reality experience as part of the Vävda rum exhibition which opened just a couple of weeks ago in more than 130 locations across Sweden. The AR work is available to view until September 30th through the Vävda rum app.

Åsa Cederqvist by Gabriella Novak.

I first wondered what it was like where Åsa grew up, and what it meant to her.

"I grew up in Lännersta, an area east of Stockholm, near the sea. When I grew up it was village with a mix of summer houses and more of a country side place. A few kilometers away there was a library and culture schools, and even further out from the city, in another area there is a certain mountain and a certain dark lake that means a great lot to me. I imagine them my father and mother of earth."

How would you define your practice? I asked.

"Intuitive, sensitive, camp and hopefully disturbing to a certain degree to some. I always enjoyed to work with what I call layered narratives, where there is not only room for one certain feeling or sensation. I often envision to create some catharsis moment or a sense of horrified delightment."

States of Becoming (2021).

I wondered what she explored in her work.

"Human behavior, our instincts, and our herd behaviours. But also how we are just another material."

What do you mean about humans just being another material? I asked.

"Well, I’m often thinking about the fact that our bodies are also just materials, tissues of various kinds. And early without any hierarchy of materials I think of this. How we, when die we will come (back) to make up parts of the earth again, when our bodies organically blend into the particles. Its also a trick of placing humans in another scale/role, become less of a dominant species. A way of letting the anthropocentric view shift to see things from another angle."

Do you feel you have a single conceptual thread that you can trace through your work?

"That would be my interest in circularities and cycles, both in nature and in how our bodies transform over time through what we eat and what we are being exposed to. But also about being vulnerable. We know that we die every second, and also need not to pretend we know more than we know, sort of. I often come back to a praisal of a kind of ughh-language / expression. Where one fools the rational part of the brain and lets another sensibility take over. Which I think might be the greater self really, beyond the rational, molded, model of oneself. I want my works to be experienced as if they were in constant creation. As is life and us, always in a becoming."

"Even if I have worked with: a talking crochet sculpture, a musical performance, video installation, a textile furniture-body-like sculpture, sound installation or a virtual AR work – it’s always about carving out a space in time and body for a certain sensation to be held. Sometimes I refer to it as presence or a sensation of being inside the artwork / experience, or being the material oneself."

Giga-annum (2023).

What draws you to the work you do?

"Again, a presence. I am always sort of looking for the time spent as a child sitting in the wardrobe with my best friend telling stories and travelling through our minds together. Flying away. So a kind of trance. A way of breathing through this world. A language. I think it’s really me wanting to set myself in dialogue. Creating a space where I can linger around topics I find interesting. It becomes a dialogue between me, the materials and in connection with people. To be in connection with my emotions and feel that what I do makes sense to me. I have a thirst for new knowledge, always curious to new things, and I love people, so in order to meet people I create works that either include them or make them drawn to my work."

"We are impoverishing the earth, and we don’t feel good about the inconceivable mistakes that are made daily in the zeal of efficiencies and measurability. We are expected to act rationally when we are instinctively driven animals, still communicating through gut feel. With my work I want to reach beyond this efficiency trap. I want to wake up sleeping senses, call it intuition, spirituality or presence, that would connect us beyond the rational and anthropocentric world we now live in. We are nature after all."

If you were forced to choose one medium to express yourself through, what would it be?

"Wow, that’s a tough one since I find my medium being fluid. So I would choose fluid."

States of Becoming (2021).

I was curious how she felt her practice has evolved over time.

"I don’t know if it has... Or I mean, I sense I have been into similar themes since I started so conceptually it’s sort of ongoing. But when it comes to chosen mediums, it is in a constant evolvement one could say. Or maybe not, because I see that I have always been into a sense of immersiveness; I love to be “in” a work, be surrounded by the vision of the artist or the feeling the artist wanted to put me through. To submit fully to a work and then learn from that. I also often think that my main method is to practice risk and to place myself in a state of not knowing. Or, how can I put it... In a state where I feel myself around, where I let myself not know, and try to act from a beginners sensibility. Achieving this requires making yourself vulnerable, and playful, at the same time."

Vävda rum, (2023).

You seem to have a very strong sense of yourself and your perspective – what do you credit for this?

"How do you mean? I feel very self-counsious when you say this – I hope I didn’t come through as an egocentric person...? Well, I think it’s because through all the years as a practicing artist (and human being) I’ve learned to cultivate the odd and difference I care for, the wild and sincere me. And in that I’ve got to be prepared to sometimes stand completely alone. Even in situations where I engage others, or in collaborations, I must somehow know what this specific thing means to me, and what my goal or purpose is with what I do. I’ve always had a very strong sense of solidarity and equality. In order to make great art and to be a good co-citizen I’m not afraid to go against the grain or use my sense of civil courage. I also think I’ve learned to encourage the curious way of thinking and making things in order to also develop as a human being, as I never want to stop developing! I always strive for a sense of discovery and authenticity in what I do."

Thank you to Åsa. You can find her links below.

Website -- Instagram -- Current exhibition.

Interview by Ewan Waddell.

Photos by Lisa Björk and courtesy of the artist.

Curator (Vävda rum): Ulrika Flink.

Script, voice & vision (Gigga-annum): Åsa Cederqvist.

AR development (Gigga-annum): Untold garden.

Sound design (Gigga-annum): Martin Mighetto.


If you click "Accept All Cookies", you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.