Linnéa Sjöberg

Embalming time; timelessness and universality in the work of Linnéa Sjöberg

I first encountered the work of Judith Scott at Musée d’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland in 2001. Born in 1943 with Down Syndrome, she was deaf and never spoke a word until her death in 2005. Scott found solace in art making, and became world famous for her coccoon-like sculptures made of fiber and found objects. In concealing heterogenous found objects under layers of fabric and twine, she found an alternative language to describe and speak to the world she was living in. Highly poetic and mysterious, their appeal laid in a potential to speak a universal language, one that transcends influences and convey a sense of timelessness.

Similarly, Linnéa Sjöberg creates powerful and enigmatic sculptures, which are assembled with material from her childhood home in Stömsund, Sweden, as well as bits collected from her everyday life in Berlin and elsewhere. Bound together, found objects such as cloth, yarn, fur and wool form a skeletal armature that is wrapped tightly in cowhide parchment, then bonded with screws and metal chains, that the artist eventually styles with her own piercings, studs, and necklaces.

Testifying of her ongoing interest in identity, and its relationship to time, her recent series, Inälvornas Dans (The Inward Dance), simultaneously integrates the past, contemplates the present and speculates with the future of the artist. Time functions formally and conceptually in Sjöberg’s works; it reveals the process of their making, while crystallizing and layering auto-biographic narratives.

Each of these assemblages evoke the limbs and organs of a body, arguably hers. Hung at eye level, the life-size figures also engage the viewer in an uncanny self-scrutiny; like portraits or anthropomorphic totems in which we might read our own image, we might perceive our own physical presence through the artist’s gesture.

Simultaneously sacred and profane, cowhide parchment is a highly symbolic material that allows to further understand the rich paradoxes the artist applies in her work; the original material for both Christian and Jewish holy scrolls, it’s also a waste product in today’s leather industry. This double function serves equally well the ritualistic approach that is so distinctive of Sjöberg’s practice, in which a series of repetitive gestures stemming from intimate biographic events (trivial or not) manage to develop into highly autonomous objects with universal value.

Elise Lammer, August 2017

Published in the catalouge by Dittrich&Schlechtriem