Isabella Chydenius

(Finland, 1988)

Isabella Chydenius (b.1988) is a Finnish interdisciplinary artist based in Cape Town, South Africa. Chydenius is currently studying a Master of Fine Art degree at the Michaelis School of Fine Art at the University of Cape Town. Her research-based work focuses on investigating societal structures of femininity, gender and safety/violence. She is interested in the behavioural social constructs behind what constitutes as feminine and masculine in contemporary patriarchal time. Her interdisciplinary conceptual work combines technologies such as light, sound, videography and interactive animation, to create experiential installations. She also works with more traditional mediums like textiles, thread, clay, painting and found objects which she uses to form sculptural installations or audience activated compositions.

Chydenius attained a Bachelor’s in Textiles, Women’s and Menswear from Istituto Marangoni in Paris in 2011, after which she worked and lived in London and completed artist residencies in New York (2016) and LA (2017). Social engagement is an important part of her practice and she continues to enthusiastically build bridging relationships with fellow artists and like-minded people around the globe.

Chydenius work has been exhibited at galleries and kunsthalle’s in Paris, London, Tokyo, New York, LA, Copenhagen, Istanbul, Helsinki, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Her work has been supported by local and international artist grants such as The Arts Promotion Centre Finland, the Jules Kramer Scholarship, The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland and Nygréns Art Foundation.

Member of MUU Artists Association and Helsinki International Artists Association

Instagram: @isabellachydenius

Process in isolation – thoughts, explanations and justifications

This isolation is going to last 21 days they said. Meanwhile the university announced that they’ll be closed until end of September. I don’t know what they knew, but I had exactly 5 days to get necessary stuff from my studio so I could continue my work from home. Naïve as I was, I found myself leaving lots of things behind, as I thought “this will be enough work to keep me busy for 3 weeks”. 4 months later, here I am with even more work to do, out of which I have completed quite a lot, but not enough. But what is even “enough” during a global pandemic?

My creative process during the pandemic became a rollercoaster between being in hyper mode, to sleepless nights with paralysing wandering thoughts that spiralled into everything and nothing at the same time. I found myself watching lots of Netflix, baking banana bread and doing yoga on the balcony, like each and every other soul who had access to such fun. I found myself clenching my jaw in my sleep, scanning my skin for imperfections, doing dishes either every 2 hours or every 5 days. I found myself looking out of the window wondering when last they were cleaned. I found myself listeingn to the wind and rain and people getting caught walking around in the night after curfew. When I left the house I felt frightened, but spent hours in the grocery store looking at all the different shapes of ready-made meals and all the different colours of fruit and veg and all the different faces covered with masks with all the different eyes, looking around for human connection while avoiding it to the max.

I found myself uncapable and feeling unaccomplished.

My contribution to this confinement archive portrays exactly that.

A small series of videography consisting of what I think is a pretty accurate documentation and portrayal of my process in isolation. The videos are a combination of sounds that I have recorded at home, on top of observations on personal actions of boredom and coping.

The video series is accompanied by a small series of drawings that I have titled isolation activation drawings. They consist of other artists work that I have basically copied through 30 second drawings. Someone once said in some documentary somewhere that a great artist is not capable of copying, but that everything we try to copy goes through a process of our own mind and style, and comes out as an original work, so they are called ode’s to this or that. In any case, they helped me take the first step of looking at what others have been doing, and reflect on what I was doing, and how what I was doing is a reflection of what they had once been doing etc etc etc.

Both of these series are ongoing. They have become tools to keep me sane, because there is no expectation, only observation, activation and at the end, a documentation. Which I guess is what art is in the end?

For more on all of it and everyday isolation life slowly moving forward: @isabellachydenius (Instagram)