Helga Steppan is a Swedish artist that graduated from Royal College of Art in London, 2004.
She works using photography in combination with installation, moving-image and elements of performance. Her work is conceptually driven; she sets up clearly defined parameters to work within and then attempts to fulfil the criteria she has imposed, documenting the process and results. These actions and the process behind is as big a part of the art-piece as the end product seen by the viewer. Steppan’s interest in the moment (scene) between 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional is seen as both a visual and spatial form but also through the audience experience and participation. How everyday objects, people and situations/environments relates to each other. Her multi-pronged experiments in documenting demonstrate that the process of reconstruction highlights the powers of the apparently mundane objects to summon memories and evoke experiences.
This way of working can be clearly seen in the series ‘See Through’ for which Steppan audited all of her belongings and divided them into a full spectrum of different colour groupings to photograph: White, Black, Yellow, Red, Miscellaneous, Blue, Orange, Green, Pink, Grey, Purple, and Brown.
The final images are visually seductive and ask the viewer to consider whether they can discover the artist’s persona reflected in the meticulously constructed installations of her material possessions.
The series ‘See Through’ is accompanied by lists written by the artist, ‘Things I forgot’, 2004,
one for each of the different colour objects photographed.
'Things I Forgot - Miscellaneous'
Stripy hat, Dress with blue butterflies (Forgot I was wearing it.), Brooch on purple jacket (Never take it of.), Videotapes (3), Cds (5), Big photographs (Too many to be found.), Small photographs (Even more to be found.), Deodorant, Toothpaste, Flower (Too special.), Arrow tape (a strip of) (On the wall after being on bookshelf.), Camera box, Cookbook, Scalpel blades (8 packs), Eye magazines (2), Postcard from Sara, Gold ballerina shoes, Angel (gold) (By my bed.), Perfume (gold).
Steppan also wrote a list of all her ‘Non Coloured Things - See-through’, 2004, that was never photographed and later lead the artist to create the installation ‘See-through’, 2006. In this installation the artist worked with participants and invited family, friends and acquaintances to lend her one non-coloured transparent object. The idea of not only being represented by her own personal belongings, as in ‘See Through’ but also by the belongings of other people close to her. The objects got removed from their original environment and was given to Steppan in person or sent by post if they lived far away. They were then brought into a new situation - the gallery space - where they would come to represent themselves as objects but also their owner. The objects are presented as a large sculptural installation together with the artist’s own personal non-coloured see-through belongings. The objects are see-through physically, but are also a way of seeing through their owner.