Sara Sjölin

1991, The School of Sculpture Billedhuggerskolen

Rika djur is a dramatized compilation of video recordings made between 2002 and 2005 by Sara Sjölin, her close friend and accomplice My, and Sara’s extended family. It uses this rough biographical material to examine communication across generations, technologies and species. The manipulation of the original recordings is minimal and lies mainly with the editing process.

One might label the film a bio-com, edited with a humorous, tender gaze at Sara’s own, as well as her family’s, desire to document and glorify everyday situations and moments. The film is a playful portrait of this desire and a testament to how the camera nourished and magnified the theatrical aspects of a tightly-knit community in a small Swedish town. Sara Sjölin’s practice often relies on highlighting parts of the artistic process that are usually peripheral in a finished work, the leftovers and surplus from the initial desire to make art. In Rika djur she extracts from this a sincere humor, the joy of parallel perspectives. In this way, the film makes these recorded memories seem anticipatory of Sara Sjölin’s current artistic practice, as if they’ve been waiting to be represented.

In the audio piece Eva, direct observation blends with speculation to paradoxically create a connection where there can be none, or one that isn’t known. By putting forth prejudice and passed-on mythological ”knowledge” – basically anthropomorphic – about snakes, it is as if Eva sheds the skin of interspecies relations. Sara’s speech is structured like a message, as on a voicemail, addressing a listener without expecting a response. Here is also a way of making a very concrete and visual description turn abstract, by holding back information about the object described. As it unfolds, this description becomes a narrative about ways of relating to the strange and unfamiliar. On a greater scale, this speech makes us think about how the gap between a domesticated animal and a wild one is bridged by discourse itself.