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Moving Image

Patricia Petersen

Patricia Petersen (b. 1993) is a Danish/Polish artist, filmmaker, and writer working with moving image, photography, performance, sculpture, installation, and text. Inspired by experimental ethnography, autotheory and the Erotic Petersen’s work challenges power structures by reframing historical and political narratives. Her work explores the correlation between memory, perception, nature, imagination, and the body through a lens of poetic absurdity. She has shown work across Europe including at Festival Circulation(s), The Institute of Broken Hearts, Brighton Photo Fringe, Creative Debuts, Four Corners, Bold Tendencies x Peckham Festival, Tbilisi Photo Festival (Projections), and Tate Exchange amongst others. 


Petersen holds a BA with first-class honours in Fine Art: Print and Time-based Media from Wimbledon College of Art, University of the Arts London, is a Four Corner’s Zoom Film Trainee Alumni, and a fellow at Humanity in Action Denmark. She previously worked with Shades of Noir as a media content developer and later as a history and legacy project developer. During this time, she was the co-editor of the Terms of Reference Journal titled Disabled People: The Voice of Many. Petersen has a long track record of community engagement and has facilitated numerous arts and filmmaking workshops for children and young adults. She is keen on continually expanding the social aspect of her art and filmmaking practice.


Patricia is grateful to be supported by Augustinus Fonden, Inge Mogens Legat, Knud Højgaards Fond, Ragnvald og Ida Blix’ Fond (Blixfonden) and William Demant Fonden.

I am writing from the inside of a spiral where time and history are chronic, leaking, looping, expanding, and fermenting. The catalyst for my work is a constant negotiation of the disconnection between my inner world(s) and the external world around me, which I often find absurd. 


As a child, I was convinced that my eyes were the shutter of a camera in which I could actively control what moments to record and store in my memory. Me: the child, the camera, the cyborg. “The cyborg is resolutely committed to partiality, irony, intimacy, and perversity.” Donna Haraway wrote in A Cyborg Manifesto. 


My processes are intuitive yet built on extensive research into various fields. My current research focuses on (post)memory, migration, time, translation (and the multilingual brain), the transmission of trauma, Slavic and Norse folklore, paganism, and the climate crisis. I am particularly interested in exploring how these themes are interconnected with each other using mycorrhizal networks as a framework for my thinking. 

I have been thinking, making, and writing about the interconnection of these themes throughout my two years at the RCA. My dissertation ‘Slippermail, Snapshots & Secrets’ is an experimental text that explores some of these themes through reflections on the collaborative process of making the film Poczta Pantoflowa [Slippermail] (WIP) about my grandmother’s involvement in the Solidarity movement in Poland during the 80s. The text contextualises my thinking, processes, and themes of the work I am presenting at the RCA 2022.


At the beginning of this academic year, I was experiencing regular sleep paralysis and nightmares about chicken feet. Through processes of automatic writing, I discovered how the chicken feet symbolised different significant moments in my life: my childhood pet chicken Høne: who refused to conform to the 'norms' of domesticated chicken, my parents' divorce (which led to the slaughter of our chickens, although not Høne), a bird/eye creature which haunted my dreams following the sudden passing of a close friend, the family dinner where I decided to become vegetarian and the Slavic folklore figure Baba Yaga which in my family was used as a scare to make children behave well. Building on my existing research and work, chicken feet, and the trope of the 'Witch', Baba Yaga, became a backdrop for me to explore the connection between gendered violence and the violence against nature.


During my time at the RCA, I have become interested in how my research can translate into different materials, expanding my practice towards a sculptural direction. I was drawn to the notion of materialising my nightmares about the chicken feet to explore making the intangible, tangible. Working with different mediums allows me to explore the interconnections of my research interests through the relationship between the mediums when they encounter each other in unfamiliar ways. I am particularly interested in the tension between the familiar and the unfamiliar because I believe the uncanny affect can create a brief shared experience. 


And, I Will Breathe Through You (Chapter 1) Trailer

And I will Breathe Through You (Chapter 1) is a love spell to marginalised genders and to the Earth. The text that accompanies the film uses spells as a form for writing about what’s beyond us, as a way of resistance and using imagination to imagine different realities from the one(s) we live in.

The text draws on conversations with women in my family about gendered violence, resistance to gender norms and conventional lifestyles. Linguistic registers of the multilingual brain and Slavic phonetics come under scrutiny through the whispering sounds which relate to the “whispering witches” in Eastern Poland. 

If you would like to watch the full film and are unable to visit the physical show in Battersea, please email me and I will send you a link. 

Medium:

Single-channel video

Size:

05:00 min

The anatomic heart is a reoccurring object in my practice relating to the obsession with Takotsubo syndrome, or broken heart syndrome, which occurs when a person experiences sudden acute stress that can rapidly weaken the heart muscle. 


This piece is a reflection of my research into cellular memory and epigenetics, particularly the notion of how human organs potentially can create their memory cells storing trauma and how these can be transmitted through several generations. 


Working with glass is for me an exploration of time and patience, as the process is long and time-consuming and the final result is often not fully controllable. The tension between wanting to gain control and surrendering to the uncontrollable process of working with glass is something I relate to the study of trauma and the transformational process of healing. 


Medium:

Glass

Size:

12.5 x 8.5 x 22.3 cm

Leftovers is a series that explore familial narratives and intergenerational transmission of trauma and memory through bodily vessels.


The piece is inspired by a conversation at a family dinner with the women in my family which I have written about in the chapter "Secrets II: The Long exposure" in my dissertation Slippermail, Snapshots, and Secrets.


Thinking about familial traumas and narratives I became interested in working with clay because of the intimate knowledge it requires and because I was intrigued by the way clay holds memory of how we work with it, linking it to my research into cellular memory and epigenetics.


I have a limited edition of photographic prints of these pieces available, please email for inquiries. 

Medium:

ceramics (bisque), wax, wax candle, polymorph, hair, egg shell

Size:

Dimensions variable

Slippermail, Snapshots and Secrets is a self-reflexive experimental feminist text that explores the interconnectivity and transmission of (post)memory, trauma and displacement through a lens of the author's maternal lineage. Writing from a mode of cinematic memory and imagination, the text appropriates their temporal and fragmented nature to reject Western conceptions of linear time, history and objectivity.

Drawing on Lauren Fournier's definition of autotheory, the text emerges from processes of collaborative sharing, recollection and radical vulnerability as means to potentialize transformative contemporary artistic practices engaging with political and historical inquires. The text aims to establish an intimate and emotional conversation with the authors, thinkers and artists researched in writing the text and invites the reader to engage in this conversation by feeling rather than knowing. 

Medium:

Text