This summer the Langen Foundation is presenting the work of Swedish artist Sofia Hultén (b. 1972, lives and works in Berlin) as part of its series of monographic exhibitions dedicated to contemporary artists. Exhibited are artworks from the past two years complemented by several new works created especially for this exhibition.
Questions about the relationship between the past and the present, about the cyclical nature of things, and also about the interplay between time and matter are recurring themes in the protean work of Sofia Hultén. In her sculptures, photographs, and videos, she explores the transformation and modification of the things surrounding us in everyday life.
Hultén does not view objects as statically fixed and conclusive. Inspired by reading specialist literature about particle physics, she instead understands each thing to be an energy-charged, gyrating mass that seems to be asking: “What might I be?” and “What is my potential?” Without actually setting out to create something new from this mass, Hultén accompanies selected things along a stretch of their existential journey, though she is interested in their past as well: “What was I previously?” and “What has happened to me?”
Using the methods of reconstruction, renovation, and rearrangement, Sofia Hultén investigates the physicality of objects, delving into their history or bringing them into a new state of being. In her works, which are often very intricately crafted, she proceeds gingerly and leaves no appreciable traces. In the process she succeeds again and again at circumventing habitual patterns of perception and at divining unascertained dimensions in everyday objects.
Counting among the artist’s favourite places for discovering items are the many construction and demolition areas to be found in Berlin. It was here that she found the material for her work Artificial Conglomerates (2011): large but unassuming rocks of which she made latex moulds. She then proceeded to pulverise the rocks, only to then recast the material back into its original form.
In the video Past Particles (2010), Hultén presents the contents of a dated toolbox. While being filmed, the artist removes every single screw, nail, piece of wood, or metal part and places each on the coarse floor of her art studio, one by one. The presentation of over 1,000 puzzlingly beautiful objects is slowly executed on the monitor.
Among the works on display in the exhibition is also a group of sculptures, filigree in appearance, spanning the height of the room. Consisting of used car jacks they function as steles that appear to be keeping the floor and the ceiling of the exhibition space at a distance.
Sofia Hultén, born 1972 in Sweden, lives and works in Berlin. Since 2001 she has taken part in numerous group and solo exhibitions, such as at Kunstverein Nürnberg (2007), IKON Gallery, Birmingham (2007), Künstlerhaus Bremen (2008), Konrad Fischer Galerie, Berlin (2010) and Düsseldorf (2011), among others. In 2011 she was awarded the Moderna Museet Sculpture Prize by the Moderna Museet Stockholm. Sofia Hultén is presently serving as guest professor at the Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee (2011–12).