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