VAFT juror 2022
Sasha Huber

Sasha Huber (1975, Zurich, CH/FI) is a Helsinki-based, multidisciplinary visual artist-researcher of Swiss-Haitian heritage. Huber's work is primarily concerned with the politics of memory and belonging, particularly in relation to colonial residue left in the environment. Sensitive to the subtle threads connecting history and the present, she uses and responds to archival material within a layered creative practice that encompasses performance-based interventions, video, photography, and collaborations. Huber is also claiming the compressed-air staple gun, aware of its symbolic significance as a weapon while offering the potential to renegotiate unequal power dynamics. She is known for her artistic research contribution to the Demounting Louis Agassiz campaign, aiming at dismantling the glaciologist’s lesser-known but contentious racist heritage.
 

She holds an MA in visual culture from the Aalto University and is presently undertaking a practice-based PhD at the Zurich University of the Arts in artistic research. Huber has had solo exhibitions, joined short film festivals and residencies around the world, and participated in international exhibitions, including the 56th Venice Biennial in 2015. In 2021 Huber will start her first solo exhibition tour under the title You Name It. The tour begins at Kunstinstituut Melly in Rotterdam and continues to further institutions such as The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto, Autograph in London, and Turku Art Museum in Finland. In 2018 Huber was the recipient of the State Art Award in the category visual arts given by the Arts Promotion Center Finland. 

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What It Feels To Be Human
By Sasha Huber

It was the first time for me to select videos for a video art festival. It was a true joy to end 2021 and begin the new year watching the many amazing submissions from artists from around the world and to be surprised by what's to be seen and heard. I was wondering if there will be works engaging in this unprecedented and exhausting pandemic times we all are living in since early 2020. And indeed, it was not a surprise that this situation has prompted some artists to react and to be inspired to express how this moment in time feels to them. When I started to delve deeper into the various videos I was especially concerned about bringing together an as broad representation of artists and themes as possible and based on what I saw I defined themes for the four screenings such as Decolonize Your Mind, Surviving Life, Mental State, and Moving Bodies.

 

The moving image has been since the 1960s an inspiring way for artists to invent their own (virtual) worlds to tell their stories, may they be personal, collective, fictional, or documentary, experimental, or sampled made of archival footage creating new and unexpected meanings combined with music, sound, poetry or silence. It has become even more popular since many of us carry a device in our pocket which is capable to create videos rather easily. This possibility has given the opportunity to many who earlier didn’t have access to the technology to create such videos and films. 

 

I asked myself what is it that makes us artists choose to communicate our ideas in this visual and sonic way? For me, it has often been a way to document a unique performative site-specific action to be able to share it later on with the world and for the future. It is a way to hear and listen to images where there are almost no limits and everything seems possible. We can create a world how we would like to see it and how we imagine it to be. It is an invitation to our viewers to be open to feel and experience the visual and sound worlds created and to be touched and forget one's own reality for a moment and get transported elsewhere. It is a way to temporarily step into someone else’s shoes, see-through eyes of somebody else, see the world from another perspective, and maybe make more sense to how it feels to be human or non-human for the matter, in this complex world filled with everything, love, beauty, injustice and horror alike. 

 

That's the magic for me to experience art videos and film on the big screen or in the public space while being in the presence of others, something many of us have been missing when festivals weren’t held and movie theatres closed when our physical presence was and still is to some extent replaced by our virtual existence which sometimes takes over and sucks us away from this material, haptic and smelly world. Let’s not get used to this in some way passive way of life and embrace the life in the community for what it is here for.