Agential Matter (Invisible Landscapes) – a footnote on ’care as disruptive intervention’. Environmental Lunchtime Discussion

Agential Matter is an artistic research project which examines performativity of algae, objects and bodies in instances of observation in scientific research, industrial production and artistic encounter. This talk by artist Sabine Popp is seen as an opportunity to (re)turn to a small shed at a landing station for harvested kelp as one of several places of hybrid coexistence.

An image of orange seaweed and kelp.

Photo: Sabine Popp

The image has been cropped

About the presentation

Kelp forests, laboratory, industrial site and the art space form alternately and on equal level the site for artistic research, and production and presentation of work. Elements from these sites - in form of objects, sounds, images, words and movements - are exchanged and displaced to question meanings and values shifting over time in the respective fields, and society.

Brown macro algae are prevalent on all coasts of the North Atlantic, and seemed a good mediator for tracing naturecultures’ conditions in arctic and subarctic regions. Kelp is highly valued by the alginate industry, and ephemeral, regrowing and mobile to a certain extend. In its sensitivity to certain parameters, it can be read as a sensor for reigning environmental conditions. Questions of knowledge, natural resources and connecting economy are strongly related to national wealth and independence, meanwhile mutual dependence is what keeps ecologies alive across borders drawn by humans. Kelp forests give space to a huge number of other living beings. The social space of these ecologies includes humans and non-humans alike, and a growing awareness of this is to be perceived in the face of changing and critical conditions of existence. Sensibilities and visions are in demand for imagining a common, livable, future.

The project aims for stiring up things, or keeping them suspended in their contradictions to prepare a ground for collective thinking and doing. To get on solutions one tends to blind out part of collected information, which might still be necessary for the future. To keep things suspended in their potentiality, the project constantly folds elements and layers into each other, rather than increasing focus on one specific aspect. Focus is not at things as such, but on their mutual relationality.

She is interested in art as displacer and disrupter in everyday life situations, affecting myself and others. Seemingly absurd doings have the potential to create disturbances or mental obstacles, while they are in fact careful attempts to achieve proximity to what not entirely discloses itself as knowable, and by situating the body in particular spacetime and material conditions - here the conditions of a small shed.

About the presenter

Sabine Popp’s artistic practice is an exploration of specific geographical places, and human beings’ relation to them through work and daily routines. Archive material, camera based observation and dialogue with representatives of professional or social groups, is brought in conjunction with subjective experience through involvement with physical processes and the development of performative strategies. She teached for some years at the Academy of Art and Design in Bergen, before she became a research fellow in 2016 and received her PhD in 2021 from what is now the Faculty of Fine Art, Music and Design at the University of Bergen. She contributed to the artistic research projects Topographies of the Obsolete from 2012-16, and Oslofjord Ecologies since 2016.

At the moment she works as independent artist, researcher, freelancer and member of the studio collective Bergen Ateliergruppe, engaged in collaboration and crossdisciplinary work, most recently with feldern. zusammentun und auseinandersetzen at the Zentrum für aktuelle Kunst in Berlin.

For more information on Agential Matter (Invisible Landscapes) please visit the project’s website at the artistic research catalogue:

About the event series

The OSEH Environmental Lunchtime Discussion series consists of short, 15 minute presentations by invited guests, followed by a discussion. We invite speakers from a wide variety of fields, both academic and beyond. The presentations are accessible and are aimed at anyone with an interest in environmental issues. All are welcome.


Tags: Environmental Humanities, OSEH, kelp, Art, Ocean studies, Marine Botany
Published Mar. 30, 2022 12:52 PM - Last modified Mar. 30, 2022 12:52 PM