INA SANGENSTEDT 2017
Written by: Irena Borić
The focus of Ina Sangestedt' practice is on already existing objects for their symbolic and functional value. More precisely, within the functional object, she often seeks for animal motives, such as the legs of a chair carved as paws. A chair with paws is not only visually interesting, but it also becomes an aesthetic object which indirectly speaks of the superior position of a human towards an animal. It actually represents social status, as an owner exhibits power to "kill" certain animal, as well as to afford such exquisite chair. In that sense, the representation exposes dominance over powerless animals, but also over powerless people. Ina Sangenstedt takes such an object in order to twist its shape and alter its function and meaning. In her work Tisch, 2008 she found a table with the dog's paws and reshaped it that it resembled the movement of a dog sitting. In that way, a table became a sculpture of a dog, losing its function of a table.
Coming from that background during the GuestRoom residency in Maribor, Ina Sengenstedt used the collection of the Regional Museum of Maribor (Pokrajinski Muzej) as research material. She delved into the permanent exhibition which brings numerous objects ranging from archaeological to cultural and historical heritage. Several floors and dispersed spaces make visitors to investigate the museum's collection, as well as to seek for newly inserted objects. The inserted objects were not done prior to the residency; they all came about from the study of particular objects within the museum's collection, functioning as one aspect of their interpretation. The first object which drew attention was entitled Timeless and it related to a table clock which is actually a small-sized sculpture of a woman sitting behind the clock. The clock actually functioned as it was a table and the woman reads a letter. Unlike the original figure which wears light clothes, in Sangenstedt's interpretation female figure wears a thick fur dress and her legs are turned into paws. Furthermore, the clock is digital, and a woman is no longer reading, but rather tiredly half-lying on the clock. Her gesture immediately evokes all the features of the finest precarious worker who is overworked, underpaid, and after all, burned out. The title brings to mind an idea of a time that ceases to exist within the museum, being opposite to the original function of a clock.
Another intervention relates to the sculpture of Mary in the plague column. While original Mary stands on a snake victoriously, Sangenstedt's Mary is wrapped completely in her own hair, sharing a bite of an apple together with a snake, and confronting it directly. However, her interpretation brings to mind Eve, rather than Mary, but she is not interested in literally following the narrative of the holy book. The hair is overexposed deliberately as a symbol of sexuality which should remain hidden. This motif continues throughout other spaces as well, and it becomes even more stylized as it stands alone, resembling a wig. She placed the hair objects in space with sacral sculptures as well as within reconstruction of 19thcentury pharmacy. In both of these spaces are also puttos, figures of chubby male children, also depicted as cherubs, inspired by sculptures in the sacral room. In the same room, she made the head of putto covered with fur, while in the pharmacy they became miniature sculptures as if breed under the glass cover. Being placed under a glass cover, same as small-scale sculptures of hair, they visually interrupt the rhythm of other jars arranged in the pharmacy.
The site-specific nature of a project makes an additional layer to the project, as it is impossible to ignore the museum's collection and all the exposed objects. Even though Ina Sengenstedt's works are just a part of this horror vacui atmosphere, still, they counter and emphasize particular objects, provoking an interruption in the narrative flow.