Blog by the artist Sanne Kabalt

your eye will know | saari residence #2

This is the second 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.


A month has passed, one out of two. Here is a timeless place. I’ve only just got here. I cannot imagine being anywhere else – let alone home. It is still dark, and darker, yet everything turned white. The darkness the sky is pushing down on the earth is pushed right back by frost, snow, ice. 

Through repeatedly walking the same paths, I see the small changes. Snowflakes suspended by spiders’ threads. The first ice, a rough surface, the next day, smoother, and the next, snowed upon. I keep humming a Fleet Foxes song as I go, what a life I lead when the wind it breathes… what a life I lead when that sun breaks free… what a life, what a life.* 


When I sit at my desk back home, my eyes stick to the laptop screen. When I sit at this desk here, my eyes keep scanning the landscape, the trees, the sea, the other side of the bay. A few times a deer passed right by my window, yesterday a fox and a hare, today an eagle. Imagine. 

Doubts were here too, in between all the cherishing of time and place. Upon expressing them to him, a wordsmith friend wrote: your eye will know what to do when faced with the tool that is your camera.**  His words stuck. My eye will know and I should have some trust in it, as some faraway friends have trust in me. 


When I wrote a proposal for the working period I am now in, I wrote of making the process the piece, of blurring the lines between unfinished and finished works, of sharing processes that usually take place behind the scenes. Once I came here I felt distant from that proposal; it slipped to the back of my mind. What was present instead were doubts of my medium. Now, I have started to work with the doubts, attempting to turn them into a reflection upon photography that touches upon its dangers as well as its magic. Thereby I am, somehow, making the process the piece after all.   

How much light am I going to let in? Should the camera do what the eyes cannot? Oh, camera, what to do with you? To capture, to take, to focus, to expose, to develop? Someone else must have taken this photo before me? Or is each new photograph a new one? Why are we making them anyway, and keep making them and keep and keep and keep making them… Does it matter if this one’s mine and this one’s yours? This is fear speaking, not the camera. The camera would say something else. Feed me film. Let me rest.

Words are constituting more and more of my work. This time I want them not to be written down but voiced, instead. It is such a different thing to hear a text uttered one word after the other, carried by a voice, my voice, in this case. 

So there we are – 

The light, the dark. The process, the piece. The silence, the voice. The writing, the view. The photographer, the camera. The doubt, the work. 


* the song is Sun Giant, from Fleet Foxes’ EP with the same title.

** the wordsmith is Wilfred Vlad Tomescu.

Sanne Kabalt