”Gravity is really important in my installations, but it makes everything complicated. In drawings it doesn’t matter, anything can happen”
After visiting Sabrina Basten‘s studio and looking at images of her works, one might imagine the world full of floating shapes, objects and stripes everywhere. Her approach to the space is what makes her installation works so unique – that moment, when you enter the environment she created, and the materials and shapes almost ask you to touch them, walk through them, or make some sound. There’s a moment of wonder where gravity is defeated and objects float in space as if they were animated, and a moment when you realise that everything is carefully planned, staged, in a scientific and practical way.
“All my installations are the result of a combination of randomness and a precise structure, which is necessary and is always there.” explains the artist.
There’s no narrative intention in her work, no anectode to tell, but a rather functional approach, and the intention to provide the spectator with an experience and an almost scientific relation with the artwork. The initial overwhelming effect is something the artist always looks for, but that’s only one part of the interaction with the public.
Experiencing the artworks always means not just looking at them in a safe way, but finding yourself right in them, surrounded by shapes and structures you might recognise from nature, with a weird awareness of yourself and the surrounding, which is doubled when you see someone else entering the same space and experiencing it in their own way.
The idea for an installation starts with the combination of a specific space with a specific material, and then continues with a process of narrowing down the possibilities of both elements. Her artworks often worked as a frame for performances, talks and live music. Collaborations are always really important for the artist, who invited musicians, scientists and architects to present their work in her installations.
After moving to Berlin, the artistic practice of Sabrina Basten changed, being affected by the relocation in a new city, with lots of possibilities not yet explored. Sheets of white paper became a new space for her artworks, and that’s how she started a series of drawings called Portraits.
These works show small spaces full of piled or floating objects. Materials for artworks, architectonic elements, as well as chairs, shoes, food, flags, flowers and cups. A whole universe of small hints and stories, portraits of her friends and colleagues, put together by combining the materials they use for their artworks and small personal details she knows about them.
A sort of private and public image of the people she loves and she collaborates with, on which the artist can work with her own pace. But working only on a surface with no interaction with the space does not feel like a complete practice for Sabrina.
“These drawings are asking you to be animated” she explains, and that’s why she brought them to life in a second moment, creating real installations which reproduce the floating movement and the arrangement of the objects in the drawings. A step which puts together this new production with her usual way of working. The importance of the materials is in the end always a crucial point for the artist. “I always need to have something that went through my hands” she explains, as I ask her about the importance of the crafty and repetitive component in her works. That’s why her series animation as gravity, (simple white drawings on black backgrounds, realised using the traditional animation technique – paper upon paper on a light table – and made to interact with the architectonic elements they’re projected onto), feels more like a work in progress than proper artworks for her.
Her production feels so coherent and complete that I cannot imagine something not yet realised that she would love to do. But of course, there is something. Installing a piece in a completely public space. And I am already looking forward to that.
Connect with Sabrina on Artconnect Berlin