One of the first works presented by Maria Ångerman is a video showing her smiling face in a close-up during seven minutes and forty-six seconds. It is a clearly staged smile, not responding to any real stimulus; in fact, it is more like an offering, the evidence of her predisposition inviting us to find someone on that side. On various occasions her work seems to reflect a certain self-absorption, an introspection within herself. The same applies to the interpretation of e.g. the abundant self-portraits; nevertheless, her interest lies totally elsewhere. Much more important than this self-exploration -not at the least lenient – is her immediate inclination towards her outside, towards the space occupied by others. In the animation “Looking back”, for instance, you see her backside profile walking to the distance, but instead of going away progressively, at the end she finally turns her face towards us. For the same reason, in the work “And the geisha returns” she uses such a significant characterization of an offering and personal service as a geisha is, to present herself in a revering progression, which we know is reversible. And in a quite different context, we can mention the subtle wall drawing “You are here”, where once again her precise portrait on the wall is not a practice of exhibitionism but a demonstration of what we need from others in measuring our standing point. This indication of a sincere offering takes on another more explicit character in the ironic “La pensadora”(the thinker) – a small fridge magnet in which the body of Ångerman is reproduced in a posture of seclusion with certain irreverence towards the classic iconography on melancholy reflection – so that the user of the piece may symbolically empty out their worries onto this body.

The latest works of Maria Ångerman no longer imply the presence of someone else, but they happen explicitly with someone. At first it seems that her incidental companions, were thrown haphazardly towards her vital perimeters; nevertheless, it is she who offers the possibility for the creation of authentic encounters. After all, the question is to consume here and now, within our own first names, that overall natural predisposition of the first works. A work that can now help us to unite these two moments is “Are you comfortable, dear”, a simple print of a flyer with which she offers herself to the new visitors to the city for their landing orientation. Once again it is a work, which overwhelms with the previously identified offering, only now it is directed to find a specific voice. As a matter of fact, this does also apply to the “thinker”, but here Ångerman is only an enormous drawer where you can save your personal mental ramblings without any possibility of replicas; no not now, here she offers herself totally to help in concrete doubts and expectations needing a response in each individual case. Thus, lets talk about encounters, joint presence and, still further, also about dialogue.

As a matter of fact, the encounters provoked by Maria Ångerman are authentically consumed once their stories are opened up by each affected participant. “Devoted to magic” is good proof of it. One Christmas Eve she happens to meet Fernando in a train. He is a peculiar person with whom a vivid dialogue leads to good vibrations; some days later she suggests to Fernando that they repeat the trip and even make it longer, but this is not possible and the reencounter is reduced to a dinner during which Fernando explains the true and incredible story on his arrest and fast liberation during the time of repression in Argentina. The meeting between the two of them – totally accidental but clearly provoked by this “predisposition” – is converted to a clear demonstration of the rich and amazing features of reality, which can, moreover, bloom in the best of forms of exquisite fictive literature. In “Breakfast Company”, the dialogue obtains a choir-like dimension thanks to its simple strategy: she distributes flyers inviting a different person for breakfast every morning in a park in Budapest. The result is no more no less than the accumulation of real-time chats in which, once more, each party has a first name and, probably, thousands of stories to tell.

The character of this type of suggestions gives the possibility to underline the importance of offering services instead of previously adorned products; of giving the possibility of free speech instead of only speaking pretentiously; of constructing real situations, even though occasional, instead of everlasting shams and, as a summary of it all, it is a fact that fortunately, including occasional drawings, art is not cut out from our lives.

Martí Perán

Published on Frame-fund.fi/artist of the month February 2003

Also published in the catalogue with the same name, Encounters at your disposal, covering relational projects and/or text based works by Maria Ångerman.