Sandra Vaka

Sandra Vaka: DAYS

22. April 2022 - 03. June 2022

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April 28th – June 5th

In the 16th century Copernicus overturned the assumption that the sun circled the Earth. The Sun, he stated, is the centre of the Universe, with the Earth, together with planets Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn all orbit around it each in their single track, while the stars remain fixed to an outer sphere. Today, science tells us that no such universal centre exists due to the fact that space is expanding constantly from all points simultaneously. Yet, the idea of the Sun as an energetic point of all the world’s activity still exists in a certain, sun-centred, poetics.

For the exhibition DAYS, Norwegian artist Sandra Vaka photographed the sun-symbol that appears on the screen of a Macbook computer when the brightness is adjusted. The little sun – a motif familiar to computer users all over the world – is curiously similar to the logo of Sol itself, which embelishes the facade of the exhibition space on the harbourfront in Nexø. However, the sun-symbol in Vaka’s photographs is not shining bright. In DAYS, the Sun is portrayed as a dark symbol, one that regulates the light on the computer screen. Walking closer, one sees how the coloured pixels appear in distorted shapes due to drops of water on the surface of the screen. These works are not simply a matter of documentation but they present layer upon layer of situations and signs in an indexical wrestling match.

Has the screen become the Sun of our time? Vaka asks us. Did we become so fascinated with this new digital Sun that we forgot the old one above us – the one that societies through millennia have worshiped and structured their world according to? What will happen to it – and to us humans – in this new digital sun paradigm, the silicon age? The computer screen light demands energy, and an enormous amount of data, accumulated by the use of digital systems, is not stored in the clouds in the sky. Whenever we write a Twitter update, post a picture on Instagram or watch a film on Netflix (not even to mention the activities of crypto currency, 5g network and self-driving cars) we initiate a chain reaction that demands a certain amount of energy, not only from our own devices, but also from the huge data storage centres placed around the world. The energy, processed through these gigantic facilities, is turned into heat which must be cooled down, using even more energy resources.

The contrast between warm and cold is central to DAYS, shown in Sol – an old cold room, turned into exhibition space in 2019. The exhibition gives no concrete answers to how the future’s digital energy challenge will be solved. Rather, Vaka is interested in presenting to us the ambivalent relationship between human, Tech and aesthetics. With her recognisable references, (both up and down-scaled) she makes us consider our position towards phenomena from our daily life. At the same time, the works are based on a performative gesture where the material and symbolic content melt together and allow for a bodily perception in the digital age.

Sandra Vaka (b. 1980, NO) lives and works in Stavanger and Berlin. She studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen (MFA) in 2011 and Oslo National Academy of the Arts (BA) in 2005. Vaka’s artistic practice draws together photography and sculpture. She works with an almost painterly approach to the photograph, where she often combines the use of physical water and computer screens in a re-photographic process. Her practice investigates common objects that we keep close to our body in a mix of humour and serenity.

The works of Vaka are included in several public collections, here amongst at Stavanger Kunstmuseum, KORO – Kunst i offentlig rom (NO), Statens Kunstfond (DK) and NOCO – Nordic Contemporary Art Collection (SE). Former solo-exhibitions include “Suge” at Kunsthall Stavanger and “Like the desert miss the rain” at Podium, Oslo. Other new projects are “Still Thirsty” at Kösk, Oslo, “Thirsty” at Bergenhus Festning, organised by Hordaland Kunstnersenter, “Swimming Pool – Troubled Waters” at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien i Berlin and “I Skyene” at Stavanger Kunstmuseum.

DAYS is curated by Sofie Amalie Andersen and organised by the exhibition space Sol.
The exhibition is supported by Statens Kunstfond, Det Obelske Familiefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, Stavanger Kommune, Nordisk Kulturkontakt and Møbelfabrikken in Nexø.

Thanks to glass maker Maj-Britt Zelmer Olsen from Matter House of Craft on Nexø Harbour for the help with the production of new glass works.

The exhibition opens on April 28th from 15-18h and can be visited Fridays from 15-17h as well as Saturdays and Sundays from 12-15h until June 5th.

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