Interview – Oda Haugerud – Sweden/Netherlands


What inspired or motivated you to pursue a career in the arts?

I believe the surrounding I grew up in has been of great influence as both my parents and our family friends were mainly artists and musicians. It was always more a question of finding the right medium rather than questioning doing something creative. A process that slowly somehow went from music – to graphic design – to sculpture. Which eventually led me to studying a Bachelor of Fine Art at Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. I felt the most at home and inspired when getting my first studio to try things out and experiment materially.

What is your typical day like? 

The days vary a lot as I have multiple side jobs to make it go around. Many days include preparations for grant applications, artist residencies, organizing my portfolio, sometimes ordering materials and such. If I have an upcoming exhibition I work on that in my studio which is the best part of course. There has been quite a lot of administrational work and other practical things to figure out in the past months. At times this has been an interruption but also a kind of break for contemplating. I just moved back to Sweden before I went to here so I don’t yet know how my days will be as I go back. I hope to find a good balance between working in my studio and with the new side jobs.

How do you balance your various projects since you are both a writer and a sculptor/multimedia artist?

I’m always trying to find a balance between the things I am interested in but it can be a little tricky at times. To focus on one thing at the time seems productive but things tend to end up parallel to each other. I’m not considering myself a writer at all, it’s a relatively new medium for me. It was not until last year I put my research together in “Living Dead Surplus” (2018). A very enjoyable experience and a surprising discovery as I had no idea I would enjoy writing that much. For now, I see the writing-part as research, parallel with making physical works.

Do you have any specific research methods and preparations for your work?

In terms of sculpture I initially try to stay intuitive, although preparations generally include collecting material – mainly physical material but also text. I have an archive of images and words I find interesting and start narrowing it down and connect them to a certain material or idea. In the studio I have a wall with these photos and fragments of sentences. I tend to sketch with material and take a lot of photos during the process which is helpful when following the steps as you move further. I never made a work where I knew beforehand exactly how I wanted it to turn out so the exploring is important.

Do you believe in the transformative power of art? And what is it about writing in particular that does this? Or it is more the other mediaWhich media do you prefer?

I believe it is a big question but I would say yes, art inhabits the power to provoke change for sure. Visual art generally works better for questioning things rather than answering them. What I like about sculpture is when I cannot with words grasp why I like it but it works on another level. I do also enjoy sharp texts that have the ability to not take it self too serious. At the same time as treating the subject, no matter how ridiculous, deadly serious. Music is maybe my favorite medium when speaking in terms of its transformative power as an immediate experience.

What do you hope the public takes away from your work?

That is a very hard question. I would ultimately hope people who experience it to get a corporeal connection with the work. Maybe a sense of ambivalence of the state of the material and perhaps a slight sense of uncanniness. In terms of text I hope the reader sees the links between the objects of research and hopefully finds the connections or conclusions a little bit interesting! At the same time I don’t want to put too much hope and pressure on neither the idea of a public or on the actual public. I’m happy if just a few people are interested or enjoy my work, the main fear would rather be to create a logic installation with an aha-moment-effect.

You lived in Amsterdam, attended different art programs abroad. How important is the circulation for you as an artist?

I think it has been very important for me to circulate, both on an artistic and personal level. Having had the privilege to move around to many places the past ten years has helped me to become a little flexible and open I suppose. Even if it also takes a lot of energy to change environment its always been worth it. It’s maybe not for everyone but I think it worked as fuel to me to dare to take new directions. Studying and living in Amsterdam was definitely the most formative time of all. It changed my view on art and you got to know a bunch of people from all over.

Why did you choose Belgrade?

I spent almost two months in Bulgaria this summer, for a artist residency and an exhibition and partly for traveling around by train. Along the way people told me many great things about Belgrade but I didn’t get the time to visit any other country. So as I came back home to Amsterdam I immediately applied to this residency. During the residency I also listened to a lot of dark wave and other music from Belgrade in the 80-90’s which I found very interesting. For several reasons I’ve felt curious to know about the culture and meet people from here.

Did you find your inspiration?

I must say it is very inspiring here! There is an overwhelming amount of things to do and see here. I so far had almost 2 weeks of exploring, socializing and writing. And eating plenty of cevapi.. I wish I could stay longer as there is so much to do. I’ve been meeting people in the evening for openings, drinks or dinners and I must say I felt really welcome. This is a big difference to me and something Swedes, including myself, should learn a lot from. Even if my research is not going to be about Belgrade directly there are links and many inspirational moments here for sure.

Any upcoming projects you’d like to share?

The text I’m writing now is planned to become a smaller printed publication in the beginning of next year. Perhaps a more dense “little sister” to the more broad “Living Dead Surplus” I finished 2018. Apart from that I have a group show in Amsterdam in an off-space in mid December on my way back from here. I’m also moving into a new studio in a artist collective in Gothenburg in December which I am looking very much forward to! In the end of January I’m invited for a group show in Gothenburg which I find especially exciting as this nomadic gallery is a great local initiative I followed since a few years back. I also plan on coming back to Belgrade for a project hopefully this coming spring already!

A note for future artists who wish to visit Belgrade…

It depends what your project or vision for your stay is but generally I would recommend to walk around and explore as much as you can between working. Try to find people to hang out with, or if you have any connection via a friend of a friend or so, contact them! At least for me it would be a totally different experience to not meet with people. And last but not least eat a lot of cevapi!