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My Papercut Demons

”The demons came to me one year when I experienced some personal failures—an all time low. Bad decisions, bad experiences, bad relationships. Some people can just put everything aside. They encapsulate all the sorrows, somewhere deep inside them, and just repress. I don’t think it’s a healthy strategy. To me, papercutting was a kind of therapy that time.

 

I've compared it to Astrid Lindgren's famous character, Emil of Lönneberga, who pondered his mischiefs while he carved out his wooden figures locked in his tiny carpenter shop. Like Emil, I think clearly when I perform monotonous tasks. Washing dishes, vacuuming, sorting things. Time to question your life choices. Contemplate. Meditate.

 

I called my paper figures 'demons' because they were born straight out of my state of mind that year. I mourned two failed relationships with much sadness and grief. I thought about my own role in those relationships, my own responsibility, searching for patterns.

 

But all these demons have not evolved out of some kind of ground zero.

I usually listen to music while I am working. Instrumental music—no words. Richard Strauss or Cerrone—doesn't matter. I let myself be totally absorbed by the music and the cutting. I love those moments and try to stay in them as long as possibly, as they are are increasingly difficult to reach the older you get. It’s a calm and stable concentration that rests in your sharpened senses.

 

Moments when you are in the details, small antennas, jagged edges, tooth by tooth, as you cut. You try out new forms—a gentle curve when the scissors turns softly—a flow. Maybe it's because I’ve always found it difficult to concentrate. While the total concentration is a kind of gold you always search. There are periods without any paper cutting or creation at all. Then comes a moment of intense creativity. I get a lot of things done around the clock and would rather not interrupt that precious flow when I'm in it. Those important moments, you must isolate yourself completely.

I’ve cut and assembled over 4,000 demons and mounted them, pin by pin, in vitrines since I started. A friend once told me, when I started to cut my demons, that she did not know if she would applaud me or call an ambulance. I took it as a compliment and as an evidence of perseverance.