Meet the artist // Moa Gustafsson

Moa Gustafsson Söndergaard’s work is situated around materials and places we surround ourselves with. She is interested in the memories these places and objects carry with them and how they shape us and our society. Her practice is a combination of studio and field work. She collects materials, images and objects from different places and uses them as a starting point in her work. She explores her surroundings through theories connected to geology and anthropology and examines walking as an artistic method. Both the physical aspect of movement but also the idea of mapping and translating a space with the body.

Her installation based work explores different sculptural techniques combining them in the space she is exhibiting in. Materials that are reoccurring in her work are clay, hemp thread and paper. She is drawn to materials that have a sense of resistance and are easily altered or cast into a shape. Materials that are connected to nature in some way or carry a narrative of their own.

 What’s your name and where you come from?

Moa Gustafsson Söndergaard I was born in the north of Sweden.


How did your artist journey begin?

It began with my dad and my grandads interest in photography. Which has always been present when I grew up. When I was around 16 I took my interest further and attended a course in photography. Where I experimented with self portrait and still life. Which is quite far from where I situated my work today. But photography is still a major part of my work and how I perceive the sculptures and installations I make. Also the theoretical framework of photography is very present in my work. The idea of capturing a moment in time is something I think about a lot when in the process of making works. I also tend to work a lot in rectangular shapes which I definitely blame my photographic past for.


Do you find inspiration in real-life situations and moments you experienced?

My work is about situating myself in a set environment and investigating what that environment does to me and the people living there. So a huge part of my inspiration comes from the field work I am engaged in. It could be the architecture of a house or a stone. When I am deep in a project I always have my art glasses on so then basically anything can give me a sense of inspiration or help me deal with a problem I have in the studio. I like to mirror the process in my surroundings and figure out the next step as I go.


What is your process? What are your overarching themes in your artwork?

It depends a bit on what I am working on. If I am working towards an exhibition I work quite closely with the space I am exhibiting in while I produce work for that set environment. If I am in between projects I really like to read in the mornings and walk/yoga before I go to the studio. Then I don’t need to stress the production part and can work more intuitively and test out ideas with both new and old materials.

I have many subject matters that I am currently investigating through my practice. I have always had a deep interest in the body and the field of phenomenology. A think a lot about how we experience the environments we are faced with both in a physical and psychological way. Since I am a sculptor, space and matter are occupying a lot of my time when I am working also. I like to read about geological aspects of certain environments but also the culture way an environment has been used in. So geology and anthropology is something that lately has been of bigger interest exploring.

But the overall theme would be how we as humans are engaged with the place we are living in. How the way we are interacting with nature plays a role in how our identity is created. I have an ongoing research project called Yttring. Where I am comparing the process of erosion in relation to my inherited skin condition. The different timelines, movements and rhythms of these two quite different natural processes is very interesting to me. So I would also say that I am very interested in climate change both on a micro and macro level.


Do you think your art has evolved being in a different environment E.g. Do you think GlogauAIR / being in Berlin hasn’t influenced your work?

I think every place I go and work for a longer time really helps me reach even deeper into the core of my practice. It is good to change the environment you work in to get sort of a new gaze upon your work. Also being in such a vibrant art city as Berlin has really been helping me work through some of my pieces. Also being around other artists is really inspiring and raises different questions regarding your work. Since I am working with the cityscape of Berlin it’s by definition influencing my work.