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From the Eyes of the Painter

Ylva Snöfrid


Photo: Tinni Ernsjöö Rappe

During a two-week-long ritual painting performance outside the school's great oak doors in May 2018, the Swedish artist Ylva Snöfrid created the four paintings that later were installed through a ritual dinner performance in the school's grand Auditorium, in our building designed by Ivar Tengbom in 1925.

The performance took place on-site at the School of Economics. The school's students and passers-by were able to follow the creative process hour by hour, day by day. 

Ylva Snöfrid went previously by the name Ylva Ogland. She bases her artistic practice on the painting process and its connection to her life. Over a number of years, Ylva brought Snöfrid (Snow peace) into the world through rituals and ceremonies, through objects and publications, through food and elixirs, through painting her again and again and again, until they were finally merged into one.  

In her artistry Ylva Snöfrid creates situations where artist and viewer enter a very public relationship, all controlled by the artist as the centre of attention. Power dynamics change, and the artist becomes a riddle that cannot be answered, only viewed at a safe distance. 

Ylva Snöfrid was born in Umeå in 1974. Her practice is based in painting, and centres on the painting process itself and the life of the artist.

YlvaOgland-©MikaelOlsson-9539-40b.jpgPhoto: Mikael Olsson

The SSE President, Lars Strannegård, about the performance and the artwork (text from 2018):

This summer, the artist Ylva Snöfrid sat outside the Stockholm School of Economics with a mirror in one hand and her brush in the other. She painted what she saw in the mirror; her own eye and the pictures of the School that were reflected in the eye.

This performance lead to four paintings titled "From the Eyes of the Painter". The next step in the artistic work was to install the four paintings in the School of Economics, in the four niches that exist in the auditorium. The result has become four eyes that see whoever is there: lecturer as well as the audience.

The associations go to the French philosopher Michel Foucault's idea of panoptism, which in many ways describes the time we live in. Panopticon is a building for prisons where the prison cells are located in a round building with openings in the courtyard. In the middle of the courtyard, there is a tower where a prisoner has a total view. Prisoners do not know if they are monitored or not, but the architecture creates a sense and reminder of the constant monitoring.

Today's digital world has made surveillance ubiquitous. Our computers and mobile phones leave digital tracks. Big data makes it possible to map our behaviors, the cashless society maps our supplies, and what is known as the Social Credit System in China makes it possible to quantify citizens' friendliness, compliance, and emotional expressions. Great breeds and big sisters are everywhere.

"From the Eyes of the Painter" is a work that is completely in line with the School of Economics' ambition to increase the reflection among students and visitors. Ylva Snöfrid's artwork is in all its simplicity both a mindset and an image of the opportunity of reflection to make us see the world from other perspectives.

The art installation is a generous donation from the HHS alumni Alexandra and Michael Storåkers.

Lars Strannegård, President of the School of Economics