Blog by the artist Sanne Kabalt

those who sing I saari residence #3

This is the third of a series of blogs written from Saari Residence, a residency maintained by the Kone Foundation, in the southwest of Finland, where I am living and working during November and December 2018.

I am doing what I always do. Walking, falling under the spell of nature. Writing, singing, photographing.  

I am doing what I never do. Writing down my doubts for others to see. Voicing my writing. Recording my speaking segueing into singing. Creating a video out of all this. 

Photography’s verbs are violent. To take / to expose / to capture / to shoot. And then we develop them. And then we hang them. 


Yes, my new work is a video, though it almost feels more right to call it an audio work. A voice is leading, carrying you through the piece. It is accompanied by a dark screen, which is occasionally interrupted by the appearance of photographs, projected, luminous. And then there’s words made visual, lines, sketches. Together, they shape a work about the camera and the person behind it. For now, it lasts 22 minutes and the title is 1.4, referring to the wide-open aperture, to be used in dark conditions. 

I can sharpen this and blur that. Include this in the frame, cut that of. I am constantly cutting trees – they just don’t fit.

The very first audience for the new work was one of my colleagues in residence here, Chris Kraus. A wonderful woman to have as a neighbor for a few months, she and I discussed my work a few times, in both the sauna and the studio. The night when I showed her this work, her enthusiasm broke something open in me. 


I couldn’t sleep that night. Unaware of them as I may often be, there are voices in the back of my mind, telling me what I should make and shouldn’t, which kind of art is mine and which isn’t, what can be shared, what can’t. That night those voices were hushed. So, this is what I can make! I thought. Something that is my own. Something slightly crazy, that I never expected to work. Yet it seems to be working. Chris called it ‘so affective’ and ‘witchy’. In that moment, for me, it felt like a small revolution. 

In music, love is so common a subject, while in visual art, it isn’t. As if those who make things visual detach from their emotions more than those who sing.

This working period, devoid of distraction and pressure, is a gift I am grateful for, especially at this moment, after having recently finished my MA at the Dutch Art Institute. I can clearly see things that begun at the DAI taking shape in this new work; the thinking that came out of my thesis, the performativity that started in the ‘Kitchen’-presentations. But I also need to slightly shake off the critical voice that the DAI gave me, in order to make again, experiment again, produce again – not only think on it. 

In each life occurs a dwindling of things you haven’t seen. Once you have seen them, you cannot un-see them. 


Meanwhile, eyes open wide to drink in all the white. Light comes upside down. Snow-covered rocks resemble sleeping mammals. Branches grew to thrice their usual size. It is a beauty unbelievable, unphotographable, and I wish I could bring everyone I care for here, just to take a walk in this snow, in this light. How else could I show you? 

Photographs sleep in undeveloped rolls of film, in memory cards unemptied, in harddrives crashed, in phones with dead batteries, in clouds with forgotten passwords.

 Hyvää joulua!

/ Een mooie kerst!

P.S. I picked this tarot card.


Sanne Kabalt