Karolina Oxelväg
Hosted for residency in Orebro, 2023

Karolina Oxelväg OpenArt 2024 Örebro, Sweden

One of the central focal points of Karolina Oxelväg’s residence is the exploration of the impact of microplastics on our planet. This research started when she was pregnant with her first child and learned that her newborn would ingest microplastics through breast milk. The realization that microplastics are now an integral part of our human cycle, present in our bodies, oceans, and marine life, deeply affected Oxelväg, manifesting as climate anxiety.

Artists possess the unique ability to translate feelings, stories, and social issues into art, making them relevant and visually impactful for others. Oxelväg delved into the world of microplastics and climate change during her residence.

Plastic waste will be the material used in the sculpture depicting a coral reef that will float on the river Svartån during the OpenArt biennial in 2024. Alongside the sculpture, an orchestra of colored lights will illuminate the artworks during the nights. With a background in video and performance, Oxelväg has pushed the boundaries of her craft, while still adhering to the core of her artistic practice. Her maximalist aesthetics and “more-is-more” philosophy remain evident in this sculpture. The installation will not only showcase the enchanting aesthetics of marine life but also serve as a commentary on the threats facing our oceans.

To further enhance the topic, a pedagogical approach will be active in the biennial. To initiate this work, a workshop was held at the public library within the residency. Participants were invited to create sea creatures out of plastic waste that will glow in an installation reminiscent of an aquarium. More creatures and the development of a co-creational process within this art project will continue with the audience during the biennial in 2024.

These beings – the coral reef and the discussions they will provoke – contribute to the dialogue on the diversity of life on Earth and underscore the importance of preserving our planet’s biodiversity.

Oxelväg has been enthusiastic about incorporating lamps and lanterns into her work, even when presented outdoors in the midst of the Nordic summer. Perhaps this choice is made because these lamps not only illuminate the physical space but also symbolize enlightenment and understanding in the face of environmental challenges.


Curatorial text by Felicia Bjärmark Esbjörnsson