Exploration MSS3 Fall 2021

Sofia Fredriksson

Birch bark unwrapped

– Approaching materiality

This project set out to explore the relation between a specific material and its origin. I first encountered birch bark as a material about a year ago. It already existed in the back of my mind, of course. I knew it in the shape of different historical objects in second hand shops or on shelves in an elderly home, but this was the first time I encountered it as a raw material, not yet transformed into an object, but approachable.

The main aim for this course was to use the bark as a starting point, treating it in different ways to explore its range of expressions. In parallel, the connection between the raw material and its origin became an inevitable part of the process. Birch bark carries important cultural value within historic building tradition as well as utensil making. This material connection spans many centuries, through times of poverty and opulence, symbolizing different values at different stages. Tapping into today’s ongoing struggle to balance nature’s surplus and shortage, the relationship between consumers and natural resources is a topic to dissect. In her book Vibrant Matter (2010), Jane Bennet speaks about material forces existing beyond utility. To her, the acknowledgment of forces of non-human matter enables a different approach to how we conduct our societies, and the ways we are provided for.

Examples of physical manipulations explored