contagium / contact

art, recent work

Keep distance. Stay home. Don’t go out… This is the way it is, and has been for quite some time now. One direction is still open, though: inwards. The unmeasurable space within.

And… one day, I get a surprise invitation to a mail art project. The request is to mail one of my artworks to ARTiE, the Art Association of Eslöv (a small town in the south of Sweden)… and furthermore, to pass on the invitation – along with another artwork – to two more artists.

mail art

Some time later, I post three letters; to Eslövs konsthall # 9, c/o Poste Restante, and to two of  my colleagues.

And… then, there’s the virtual space. Art happens in so many places; one evening, I attend an online artist talk from my living room. The event takes place at Accelerator, an exhibition space associated with Stockholm University. Moderated by curator Therese Kellner, artists Hans Isaksson, Imri Sandström and Lisa Torell join the current exhibitor Johanna Gustafsson Fürst to discuss the usage and role of language in art… Johanna Gustafsson Fürst talks about the titles of some of her sculptures as having a specific working range – like, for instance, four metres – thus upholding a space around the physical objects. I fancy myself approaching one of those sculptures from a certain distance, crossing an invisible threshold to enter the “entitled space” – a play with words and with the power of thought…

Accelerator: Johanna Gustafsson Fürst Mariama Jobe
Left: Johanna Gustafsson Fürst, Monolingual Territory; photo Christian Saltas.
Right: Mariama Jobe with her sisters and guest authors; photo Briar-Rose Ström Grant

Immediately afterwards, I can follow another live streamed event taking place at Botkyrka konsthall in the southwest of Stockholm; here, spoken word poet, writer and youth mentor Mariama Jobe holds a SISTERTALK – together with her colleagues Fatima Faras and Emily Joof, and with her actual sisters Isatou, Sannu and Awa. As a child, Mariama Jobe often perceived herself as unseen – almost invisible. Now, her recent publication En svart flickas handbok (A black girl’s handbook) gives voice to more than thirty black Swedish girls and women… Finding her own voice, her words too have the power to establish an imaginary space; one where human dignity becomes fully recognized.

Storyteller of the Future
Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo, Storyteller 1 (2017); photo LB-V with Azha Luckman.

As if this wasn’t enough, Konsthall C (in yet another part of Stockholm) offers an online performance only a couple of days later: The Storyteller of the Future by Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo. Due to current restrictions, the artist conducts their performative reading from Richmond, Virginia (USA). Scattered over the continents, yet connected, we – the audience – can all share a story of hope for a bright future; letting our voices blend into one another in real time: “we must do the work, now”.

Language is a virus; art is a virus. Diseases are contagious, but so is hope. To be in contact with one’s self opens for truth. To be in contact with people of good will opens for love. The creation is ongoing.

200926 01 (detalj)  Synecdoche, oil on wood panel, 25 x 25 cms (2020); contributed to the ARTiE Mail Art project; photo HHW.



ANTENN 2020/WordSong

art, curating, recent work

When planning for the SoundWavesLament, we wanted to involve the public as much as possible: as audience, to join in with the artists through active listening and sounding; but also as co-creators in the preparatory work. Weeks before the artists first gathered, we sent a special invitation to persons with disabilities and elderly people being isolated within nursing homes – asking them to share their memories and feelings with the world outside. Correspondingly, we invited our social media followers to take part in creating a collective poem. I took on the task to lead the process. Ten writers, physically separated but connected via e-mail, submitted a few lines each; those independent lines were woven together to form a cluster of voices; the writers could then come back to develop, echo or contradict the themes that emerged. And so the WordSong evolved, from a set of individual responses to Julia Adzuki’s text On Lament, through continuous dialogue, to a poetic work in its own right – and a material for the sound artists to work with, as well…

As the sun rose over the water tower on August 28th, a handful of the artists did a collaborative reading of the WordSong. Taking turns as “lead singers”, we adopted one by one of the thirteen stanzas, suggesting a particular reading or singing mode to be performed by the group. Winging over the entwined themes of sorrow and water, we experienced personal words and voices blending together in a rich flow; a beautiful moment.

I sing the sorrow of loneliness
In my mourning song there is a longing, to be like you, to be one of all.
When I realize I can’t drink it all up, when I get wet and sad at the same time, and experience
my thought’s exchange of ideas with tender, life-affirming recipients –
or, is love (friendship) self-exploiting purpose against destructive anti-existence,
or, raw materialistic ownership of undead particles shaped to the image of the object?

I sing the prison grief
When I cried against your shoulder,
loosened the ache in the chest.
Evolving beyond what I thought. What the world thought.
So easy to believe that we will get where we are going.

I sing the sorrow of humanity
Let me flow freely.
When all hearts release their sorrow,
the one who weeps over what never happened,
the one that mourns the power of evil.
When the lament rises to heaven
and the tears flow more bitterly than you have time to dry them,
how will the earth be able to host all this water?

I sing the sorrow of annihilation
A Blood Song calls from below,
connects the living and the dead.
The answer lies in the vacuum we call existence,
the place where words cannot be found.
Yet we sing the song of mourning, the great,
the one about the conditions of life, our brief moment here on earth,
the joy of love, the great pain of loss.
The song of mourning is the background against which our lives take place,
however we throw ourselves against its rough fabric
we can never change the warp we all share.
Still we sing!

I sing the sorrow of farewell
The knot could not be tightened,
we floated away with the tidal wave – breathtaking, vertigo-knotted.
The sorrow of feeling that development can do

that one’s new place and essence do not fit into the old.
That one melts but still remains when one goes home.

I sing the sorrow of the heart
And so, your own mourning song slowly detaches from the web,
the one that is about you only, your terms.
The song that only you can sing.
Sing! Sing so all mistakes and knots dissolve!
Sing!

I sing the sorrow of the imperfect
When I dry your sweaty forehead.
A picture of what you have done and what you will do,
like an ocean of emotions and thoughts, cradling islands of time.
The image remains incomplete – a constant attempt.
You love my tears but I just want to roar.

I sing the sorrow of the broken
But do not forget that the mourning song is a seamstress!
Your old self’s purl stitches
she skillfully picks up, and carefully attaches them
in your new self’s glorious pattern!
Stitch by stitch, patch by patch,
in her stubborn joining
of what has been broken,
of the emotions that have burst,
of the thoughts that ran amok in exclusion,
in her careful collection of what has been broken up,
thrown away in different directions – the inadequacy of man –
the seamstress mends and restitutes. A patchwork quilt of longing.

I sing the sorrow of alienation
The wall of sleeping backs by the shores of a story
Underground, the voices of the Gods are woven together.
They call for a union.
You stand there in the grass and feel the length of the arm.
It gets narrower and narrower to turn into yarn.
A thread that flows away from all parts of the body.
Weaving an image that is
you.

I sing the sorrow of worry
A little step back, so we can see what the hands do,
listen again to the nearly silent,
the quiet whispers of nature, where the melting power comes in,
spring-lukewarm water on winter ice,
a safe hand on the lumbar spine where the worry had taken hold
redeems the frozen that has not been listened to
during humanity’s long time,
the forgotten time that lasted too long.

I sing the grief of broken connections
Indigenous people deeply rooted,
observing the constant change of life,
see
the slight ripple over the lake water
and I confess without hesitation my smallness, how is that possible?
That I can not swim in you?
When the flow allows
the snorkel, Jak’s hand softly around my ankle,
rippling force.

I sing the sorrow of existence
Electrical impulses connect sight & sensory nerves with the blood I have been assigned,
circulating around the heart – to be able to live – in a double state
Hydrogen hydrogen oxygen
Bigger plus (+)
older than solid ground
minus (-) H2O
Fewer than massive mountains
0.025%
Oh hydro uendru akwa aqua, sa,
drink me and see me as the purest oldest and reborn!

I sing the sorrow of silence
Water is my origin. Water is security. Even the darkest of waters.
A water tower filled to the brim with tears – in every home a tap.
Underground rests the groundwater.


Text: Albin Limnell, Anna Anglemark, Jessica Wiklund, Klara Branting Paulsell, Kristina Lidström,
Margaretha Björkman, Minna Rombo Zetterlund, Sofi Håkansson, Thea Blanca, Tove Gustafson Sätter
English translation: Julia Adzuki
Process leader: Helena Hildur W.
Collaborative reading: Karin Lindström Kolterud, Johanna Dahl,  John Beck, Helena Hildur W.


Listen to WordSong Lab on SoundCloud (at 1:51:00):

Thank you, WordSingers, for sharing!

IMG_4965

ANTENN 2020 / SoundWavesLament II

art, curating, recent work

Sunrise at 05.38 on Saturday, August 28th… Over the past week, instruments and gear have been moved into the water tower. Tomas has mounted the mikes and loudspeakers, and we have all brought blankets and sleeping mats to make our personal nests along the inner wall. An installation by Patrick releases water dripping from a container above into glass jars in a plastic tub on the ground floor; drip-drop in irregular intervals, like notes from a piano played slowly… and now, time has come; the SoundWavesLament begins.

Julia’s low, steady heart beats, transmitted via contact microphone, and little sounds of dripping water; mingling with humming voices, floating rhythms strummed and tapped; at times, blending with birdsong from outside; passing on to field recordings from World Listening Day; a gentle Sunrise River Reverberation. Julia’s text On Lament is read and echoed, before the first hour closes with a sonic meditation by Pauline Oliveros – Teach Yourself to Fly.


On Lament

what is a lament for you?
for me, lament is a love song in which no-thing is concealed
where the whole of the heart, even the muck at the bottom is revealed released, transformed perhaps
through the exhale of sound waves
through the mouth, the fingers, the pores of the skin
through all the bodies one inhabits and is inhabited by
not just the bodies human but the elemental ones
lament is the transmutation of water
from solid to liquid
from flow to effervescence.

A howl in the night, a blood song
a discharge and dance where it all comes out
a place where there is space for all, even that which is held most tightly as a ball inside – the shame, the grief, the lost and broken stories
lament is a vocal seamstress, stitching all parts together again
making whole and weaving not just human story
stories of places that are part of us, our companion species
the whole ghost of our civilization’s environmental grief
that so few have been singing for so long
that lives in all of us, even when dormant.

There underground where the bones lay
in the mulch of years of fallen leaves
a fertile ground is woven with threads almost invisible
a mycelial weft exchanging life and messages between trees an uprising of fruiting fungal bodies
in a wondrous variety of forms
a lament to the wind sending spores on the airwaves.

Lament reaches deep into our bloodlines
to generations before, through all the veins
of life giving and life taking away
not just my paternal grandfather, but all the people he killed in war
not just the environmental destruction of the land where I was born, the land I live now but the brutal treatment of first nations people on who’s lands we live today
though lament we might let our selves feel this
not just in historical knowledge
but in our bones, under our feet where we walk.

To lament might unravel a small sorrow
and with it release the energy of years that that little sorrow held back moving the grief that froze, moving the shame that coagulated moving with flow, into action and compassion for every one another listening with the heart as an organ of perception
could it change the way we live?

Julia Adzuki
August 4th, 2020


 

The second hour opens with Anka Draugelates’ agile, full-toned voice overflowing with love and agony…
but as the programme continues, an unexpected problem occurs within the web radio connection: every now and then, sounds of water interrupt the broadcast – sometimes flowing and burbling, sometimes flushing like a loo… How strange! The following performance is paused for troubleshooting. Tomas targets some suspect files and deletes them. Web streaming is taken up again, according to programme, but those ghost sounds keep haunting the broadcast and the source cannot be tracked. Before noon, we have to give in and finish the live stream. Once the decision is taken, confusion turns into focused presence.; the programme is reordered and the SoundWavesLament resumes – for now, enclosed within the tower.

Tomas Björkdal and Erik Peters; Björn Ola Lind, cellist Johanna Dahl and violinist Katt Hernandez; Torbjörn Grass playing the guitar; Björn Ola’s setup (all photos by HHW.)

From herding calls to soft singing bells, from poetic readings and instrumental improvisations to Dido’s lament deconstructed, and further; to a sing-along of melodious gratitude, a purging ceremony by violin and an electronic/sonic Northern light experience; a ritual lament pulsates within us, between us; releasing emotions and opening up for what will become… past sunset, all the way into the night.

We – the Ljudtornet/Soundtower team – sincerely apologize to our listeners that the announced live streaming of the SoundWavesLament had to be cancelled. Nevertheless, the mishap eventually came across as an unexpected blessing; enhancing artistic focus within a ritual space.

The recorded event is now permanently available (along with updated programme and further information) at:
Ljudtornet / ANTENN 2020



ANTENN 2020 / SoundWavesLament I

art, curating, recent work

For the third year in a row, ANTENN sound/art festival has taken place in Gnesta’s old water tower – this year as a digital event. As before, the initiative was realized through Ljudtornet (the Soundtower); and it has been some intense weeks for the five of us constituting the group – Karin Lindström Kolterud, Tomas Björkdal, Patrick Dallard, Julia Adzuki and myself.

When our planning for ANTENN 2020 began, back in the fall of 2019, we had an urgent feeling that time had come to level up; to set up a collaborative process, with the intent to actually create artwork in situ. Next, a double theme emerged; the element of water as subject matter, and lament as a structural idea and modality. We identified places in the surroundings, embodying certain qualities – the lake, the rivulet, the wellspring, the sewage treatment plant – and we invited eight artists/musicians to a seminar in late August.

200823 32 (kopia)

Come August 21st, there’s still some groundwork to be done. Tomas is busy checking the technical equipment and mowing the grass, Karin providing maps and drafting a time schedule, Patrick shopping and cooking… In the evening, our guests arrive – bringing their instruments and devices, their artistic experiences, their openness and awareness.

Next morning, Anka Draugelates joins us on zoom from Germany, and Tuomas Rounakari from Finland – sharing his knowledge of lament in ancient Karelian tradition. Katt Hernandez has brought equipment for field recordings along with her fiery violin, Torbjörn Grass his grassophone and Erik Peters his perceptive listening and composer skills. Björn Ola Lind presents his work with indigenous communities in Australia and the Arctic, and with Ljudtornet’s sister initiative Cisternen – the Tank in Härnösand. The seminar proceeds; Julia reads her text On Lament and the concept gradually becomes more familiar to all of us. We once more enjoy Patrick’s French galettes, and find our ways to the water and to each other in fluctuating constellations. Johanna Dahl and John Beck process their impressions in improvised musical dialogue…

Sunday August 23rd: we gather in the water tower, to try out some first thoughts and impulses. The means of expression vary wildly in this heterogenous group: from voice and instruments to performance and self-built sound installations; from acoustic to electronic, to herding call, jazz, contemporary art music, sacred and classical influences, folk music and indigenous rituals.

The SoundWavesLament is taking shape. Communication flows. Isn’t it marvelous?

Afterwards, we all sit down outside the tower… Time for a photo op; time to conclude. Julia presides by the whiteboard, as the seminar comes to a close. We end up with a draft for the week to come – and for the 38 hours’ performance we’re heading for.

To be continued…

Walking & Streaming World Listening Day

art, recent work, time-out

Walking with waters, celebrating World Listening Day on July 18th: beginning in a shared moment of stillness, under a circle of birch trees by the grassy shore of lake Frösjön; then following lazy ripples downstream as the lake turns into a rivulet; silently strolling along a row of houses and gardens basking in summer light; soon afterwards passing by the municipal sewage treatment plant (while hiding our noses in little bouquets of fragrant herbs); the wetland broadening into rustling reeds interlaced by the sound of crickets, and islands of clouds floating over our heads…

200718 01b

After a break for small talk and lunch, we proceed – as does the ever-streaming water, now brimming over a threshold, of sorts, and running faster; a rapid; for us, a pause; dipping our feet and our sinkable mics into the cool fresh whirls; we collect some pebbles and stones before taking leave of the riverbank to cross the highway; turning onto a dry dusty dirt road under the sun; the long grasses stirred by a badger, quickly disappearing; a wind in the leaves blending with distant traffic sounds, and the forest closing in on us; finally, we arrive at the hidden cold spring pouring out from under a rock… A woman is already there, to collect her water for the week to come. She offers us to have our waterbottles filled up first. Meanwhile, we play rhythms with the stones we’ve brought.

200718 02b

Who are we? Julia Adzuki, Patrick Dallard and myself represent the Ljudtornet/Soundtower group, and our artist colleague and friend Lisa Jeannin is joining in for a while too. Invited guests and collaborators for World Listening Day are violinist/composer Katt Hernandez, composer/performer Erik Peters and dancer/choreographer Sindri Runudde… This field recording event is also an opener for sound/art festival ANTENN 2020.

ANTENN 2020 affisch

All filled to the brim, we return to the old watertower. Together with a kulning/herding call recorded by our absent colleague Karin Lindström Kolterud, the sounds collected from today’s water walk are organized to form a loop for streaming over web radio this very evening. Just like on January 17th, the Art’s Birthday website provides the technical platform, along with a thematical frame: The Collective Field. Ljudtornet is taking part together with a number of art initiatives – scattered over three continents – and the audience will be able to create their live soundscape from all contributors.

200718 05b

Julia checks the settings once more, as Patrick gently plays a water-filled Mexican ocarina and Erik listens attentively. At 7 pm, the Art’s Birthday mesh is up and running, broadcasting from Tblisi, Vienna, Gnesta, Chicago, Vancouver… We’re on air! The loop is streaming and Sindri begins to dance. Katt brings out her violin to improvise a duet with the crickets she recorded in the reeds earlier… It’s dark inside the tower. Suddenly, the camera obscura phenomenon occurs – an image projected upside-down through a tiny hole in the wall: the evening sun, surrounded by flickering leaves, accompanies the performance.