Ear to the ground (wandering rocks) / Index Foundation / Stockholm

Ear to the ground (wandering rocks)
8.45 min HD 2020
view TEASER HERE (vimeo)

28/8 2020 A conversatino took place between Sue Spaid, Ulrika Sarre & Marti Manen at Index in Stockholm. Available here!

Soloexhibition at at Index Foundation / Stockholm
2 October - 22 November 2020

Consider a stone. It is earth and time compressed. A slow and continual exertion of pressure, a solidifying under the weight and mass of material that comes from and makes up the earth. Of time itself.

A desert, a stone, traces of time. Can we see time? Can we feel time? Or is it something to be heard?
Ulrika Sparre works with stones and their qualities. In her work she focuses on specific characteristics of stones to open up the spectre of time widely. Stones have their own temporalities, a longevity unthinkable for humankind: they were here before us and will continue to be here after us. Amongst their seams and fault lines we can perceive glints and glimpses of past realities, histories sedimented and pressed together. Stones and minerals explain –quietly– something about life. Ulrika Sparre decided to listen actively to them.

Listening to stones allows a secret language to appear; every stone presents a certain type of sound and a certain vibration. Using contact microphones, Ulrika Sparre selects places far away from the marks of human civilization and puts her ear to the ground. The inner sounds of the stones come to us as a lost language, as a slow continuity and earthly rhythm. Vibrations and temporalities, waves in the form of sound or light.

The exhibition presents a film, sculptural works and also hides some stones within its structure. Not everything can be seen, it’s also a question of attention. In her film we can observe a landscape and some of its details; we can appreciate the abstract and physical aspect of this specific landscape. Through the film, we hear the sound of the stones while Ulrika Sparre is listening them. Sound surrounds our bodies and it is through sound that another form of communication is established.

If the romantic position of art’s relation to landscape was based on distant observation and admiration, contemporary art has offered several ways of interaction. Land art put the human gesture on earth with a sculptural presence defined by the conditions of a place. One possible history of land art has a parallelism with the colonial approach to discovered land: one decides to respond not just on a physical level to the earth, but also on the way to perceive a space; your view will define what was there, your hand will create the vocabulary and history of a site. Land art’s grand gestures have been the base for an almost theological construction of Olympic proportions, with sculptural forms and monumental expressions placed upon or created out of the landscape: Robert Smithson, Richard Long, Walter de Maria or Christo were writing on nature, ‘civilizing’ landscapes to become culture. On another discursive line we could mention Ana Mendieta, Nancy Holt or Fina Miralles with a more subtle approach to spaces, with the body as a medium, with perception and subjectivity as connectors, with fragility and proximity as guidelines. To this lineage, Ulrika Sparre brings subjectivity and the act of listening. To listen shows a desire for understanding, offers a time and a pause, a hand and a caress.

Text Marti Manen

Publication Ear to the ground / Ulrika Sparre
Released by Art & Theory 2020

The starting point for Ear to the Ground is a search for the spiritual and the physical in nature, and how these relationships are created and transformed. The artist Ulrika Sparre moves through the archipelago of Stockholm, across the desert of Death Valley, and into the caves of nomads in South Africa, while crossing the path of Giacometti, as she investigates the land of rocks. She has performed several field recordings of stones in which she reflects on what we perceive and take with us from an experience in nature.

Those who observe from a distance are not involved. Ear to the Ground seeks to break down distance and the perception that there is a "nature" that exists apart from us. In order to face the threat of climate change, we must give voice to non-human actors—the gardens, the cities, the stones, the glaciers. Sparre wants to investigate how our relationship with what we consider nature can be reevaluated by giving it a voice and a possible language. Perhaps by repositioning our perspective, we can give rights to our environment and to non-human actors in our world.

The book Ear to the ground takes the reader on a visual journey, providing an overview of the artworks, photographs, and material collected throughout the project Ear to the Ground. The book features evocative essays by Johan Redin, Sue Spaid, Virginia MacKenny, Virginia Marano, and Jacquelyn Davis, as well as an interview between the artist and Marti Manen.

Ear to the ground (wandering rocks)
More reading about Ear to the Ground
A conversation between Marti Manen and Ulrika Sparre

Art & Theory Publishing


Review of Ear to the Ground by Magnus Bons konsten.net



Ubehe Crater ©Ulrika Sparre 2020

Installation view video / Index Foundation 2020

Glowing Land / Sculpture / Index Foundation 2020 Foto Lou Mouw

Sculpture / Index Foundation 2020 Foto Lou Mouw
Publication Ear to the ground / Art & Theory Publishing 2022
Field Recording / Death Valley ©Ulrika Sparre 2020