Site: Kishlet El Attarine
Written by Cyrine Ghrissi. Published on 10th August 2022
Nature is primordial for human existence, it provides us with food to eat, air to breathe, and water to irrigate and drink. Thus, in order to survive and thrive, the Human species depends implicitly on the natural world around us. Nevertheless, in our contemporary era, humans are under a huge threat of the earth’s natural loss which results in real jeopardy conducted and issued by its own victim: “Human species”. Focused on human fragility to nature and the scarcity of natural resources, the German-based artist, Sarah Steger was invited to present her artwork in the medina of Tunis at the Light Art Project INTERFERENCE YOUNG MASTER.
Exhibited in an old abandoned building in the heart of the Medina of Tunis, Kishlet El Attarine, a place during the Ottoman empire was a casern, then transformed in 1924 into a library to be closed for more than 15 years with no sense of life except nature that is manifesting its existence through broken architecture and one fig tree that whispered its smell in the place, “ Save Me From Safety”, a video installation artwork was open freely to the public during the 4 days of the exhibition that was held in July between 28 to 31.
For her art practice which is based on the context in situ, the artist Sarah Steger used natural fig leaves, in synthesis with both organic and chemical components to conserve the plant’s main photosynthetic organ and keep their shapes and color. Installing the maintained fig leaves on a knitted hand-crafted tulle fabric hung in a white cube next to the resistant fig tree with its yellow dead leaves laying in the space, the conceptual and visual artist alludes to the paradoxical behavior of humans living in urban life toward natural resources, our consumption to artificial and industrial objects and environment’s care.
Displaying the video on the conserved fig leaves knitted on fragile fabric, Sarah Steger’s artwork contains an 8 minutes video in a retrospective of herself trying to breathe through wearing a safety blanket, supposed to save her, breathing heavily to the point of near asphyxiation in parallel to a rattling sound. With the video length time, a critical time refers to someone who can sustain permanent brain damage or die with no oxygen, the conceptual artist elaborates on the human usage of objects with scarce resources and highlights its impact on the human species that is already affecting us and our surrounding ecosystem. With a hidden religious question asked by the german-based artist, the “Save Me From Safety” video installation investigates human vulnerability to nature and today’s consumerism.
At the end of the INTERFERENCE light art festival and at the last minute of the festival closing which was coincidently the last second of the video, I turned to Sarah and asked her “Are We Gonna Be Saved”, she looked at the work, and then she gave me a responsive look. I believe that I got an answer as she did.
About Sarah Steger:
Born in Bad Homburg (gr) and currently based at Marburg (gr), Sarah Steger studied art history at Philipps – University Marburg (gr) followed by a master’s in conceptions of fine arts. Since 2017, Sarah has been active in Marburg’s local art scene, she has exhibited at the Museum of Art and Cultural History Marburg (Kunstmuseum Marburg (G), Marburger Kunstverein, and Der Schwanhof. To support her artistic development, Sarah Steger was selected by KUNST.LABOR.STADT.PLATZ, a public art initiative for art professors and students at Marburg, to work on a collective project “UNDER PLACES”. In addition, she was invited to exhibit her video installation “Save Me from Safety” in Tunisia at YOUNG MASTERS PROGRAM by INTERFERENCE Light Art Project Tunis 2022.
Starting as a painter creating images of different aging creatures portraits with rust-cast iron skin to working on installations made with solid materials including bronze, copper, iron, and wire, the visual artist’s work developed from being focused on human remains to human surrounded objects. Through her different medium approaches in her artworks (painting, installation, and video), Sarah Steger depicts the relation of humankind with its physical and tangible environment in a challenging and resource-limited contemporary world. Showing the fragility of humankind through the various materials, and inspired by the Columbian artist, Doris Salcedo (Bogota. co 1958), Sarah Steger’s artworks question our relation to objects, identity, and time. With a background in art history and fine arts concepts, Sarah Steger’s artwork audiences need to reconsider and investigate the history, religion, untold realities, and metaphors in their research question.
Highlighting human susceptibility through different art forms ( painting, installation, light art, and video installation) with different materials in a scarce resource-consuming contemporary era, Sarah Steger is always in the experimenting and collecting process to bring us an artwork that seeks to make us think about our role and contribution to the material world before and after individual existence.
FEATURED IMAGE: Arij Bouchami