Art moves on; like clouds, like life.
Art moves on; like clouds, like life.
Back in the old Watertower of Gnesta… Collaboration with artists Julia Adzuki and Patrick Dallard (SymbioLab) has been brewing for some time now. Karin Lindström Kolterud – who added the element of ancient sound technique kulning to Resonance Jam #2 – has joined the team. Since last year, a group of people have gathered recurrently in the Watertower to try out its unique acoustic qualities – and during this long hot summer, a number of artist residencies have taken place.
Tomorrow, we’ll launch ANTENN 2018, a two days’ Sound Art Festival. And what an amazing line-up of artists: Linnea Rundgren and Tomas Björkdal with live multichannel sound and image projections, Girilal Baars doing Mongolian overtone singing, jazz/classical duo Johanna Dahl (cello) and Ebba Westerberg (percussion)… not to mention the male voice choir of nearby village Björnlunda – and quite a few more!
Full program here: ANTENN 2018, program
And my part? A contribution to the upcoming performance of Julia and Karin; they will be playing with voice, body, space, and another one-of-a-kind instrument – a wrecked old marine buoy, prepared by Patrick. Julia and I did the lighting… and the setting sun joined us for an hour, turning the watertower into a giant Camera Obscura. What an honour; playing duet with our home star.
Gnesta Watertower, Saturday morning, September 23rd; all photos HHW.
Are we all set? Yes! Ok, let’s turn on the lights and open to the public… Here’s Resonance Jam #2. Welcome!
Shades of blue, orange and yellow blending into each other. Bells clanging – sometimes loud, sometimes barely audible. Shadows playing on the walls; reaching all the way up to the ceiling, then quickly diminishing as visitors move around. Reflections from the handmirrors wandering like moons over soft horizons.
In the afternoon, Julia’s friend Karin shows up. She climbs the stairs quietly and vanishes without anybody noticing. Then her voice comes back to us, expanding to fill the whole tower as she sings us a ‘kulning’ – an ancient herding call, intense and rich in half- and quarter-tones. Originally sung in mountains and forests, the kulning was often echoed over large distances and accompanied by the bells of home-coming cattle. Here, somebody occasionally touches the floating bells, and the octagonal space provides a very characteristic echo… As Karin ceases to sing, a mellow, saturated silence arises. It grows and stays; a moment of rapture, carried out of time. Slowly, we return to ourselves, hoping for more. Nothing happens for a while. Then, when all our expectations have finally dissolved into thin air, Karin takes up a blue and haunting note to give us another improvised session.
Here you can hear Karin Lindström Kolterud performing her ‘kulning’ at Resonance Jam #2:
The very last guests to arrive – as the tower is already emptying – is a small family, two young brothers and their parents. Peaceful joy reverberates within.
Many thanks to the Water Tower Society for inviting us, for facilitating, documenting and for cinnamon buns; to Karin for the kulning; and to each and everyone who joined us for ResonanceJam #2!
Gnesta Watertower; photo Bengt Björkbom
So, here’s the old Watertower of Gnesta. Built in 1913, today no longer in use – but occasionally open for events, and carefully maintained by a local society of dedicated people… who gracefully invited Julia Adzuki and me to play along a bit more. We happily accepted – of course – and brought our materials to this amazing space for ResonanceJam #2.
At ground level, the ceiling is barely visible; lost in shadows some twelve or fourteen metres above one’s head. The empty water tank is still higher up, and so is the topmost, hidden space… A wooden staircase is spiralling upwards along the octagonal wall. As the space so strongly accentuates verticality, we decided to address it by constructing mobiles to let the bells and silk float… A tribute also to the idea of water. And light projected upwards, maybe?
Bells, feathers, wire, silk, rope, metal tubes, masking tape, spotlights, light filters, mirrors… And what about little handheld mirrors, Julia suggests – to echo the torchlights that were handed out to visitors in the Resonance Jam #1? Yes, but where to find them..?
Drilling and fastening. Attaching wires and doubling them for safety. Adjusting and fixing weights. Climbing the staircase, tying ropes, hoisting and lowering. Stitching fabric and ironing. During these days of preparation, a saying from the ancient Chinese Book of Changes – the I Ching – comes to my mind more than once; at the very moment when all elements in a process are in accordance with dao, “everything acts to further”. This seems to be the case here – despite any clumsiness or confusion, we stumble into functionality and beauty time and over again.
Saturday morning. Soon the public will arrive… Sun is already sneaking in. Checklist: sweep floor, turn on lighting, place torchlights by the entrance. Breathe. Open doors!
One minute later, first visitor peeps in; frowns, turns around, tells friend outside: I’m not going in here! and leaves quickly. Hmmm. Is this what it’s going to be like? Are we too obscure? Will the texts – with their subjects of time, death and space – be perceived as smugly esoteric and/or provocative? Will this whole thing just turn people off?
Next guest enters, and is provided with a torchlight. He spends quite some time moving around, observing, playing the bells, reading texts… then generously shares his thoughts with me and Julia before leaving. Now, that was comforting!
Hours later, we are convinced that the system is functional; Julia and I actually feel like we are the audience, as we benefit from the visitors’ performances and feedback! The space resonates with sound, light and materiality, with body movements, interactions and close attention, emotions and serious thoughts… Saturday afternoon, Julia finally lits the overhead projector – and of course, here is the place to acknowledge Lena Strand and my other Light Jam colleagues!
Our yellow portal is now working both ways. One lady even seems to have vanished into another dimension, leaving only her shoes behind.
Sunday morning, I sweep the floor once more, and open doors for the second and last day. Many of our Sunday visitors are very young, and the space adapts to even more versatile conditions.
By 5.30 pm on Sunday, door closes behind our last guest and we begin to dismantle the whole system of resonating bodies before cleaning up.
A deep-felt Thank You to Långsjö teater for providing the space; to each one of our guests for shared joy and valuable feedback; to Esmilda for professional input and Patrick for all kinds of support; to Lena Oja for the grand feast; and of course, to Julia Adzuki with whom collaborating is as rewarding as it is easy…
We draw to a close, in order to make a new opening.
Finally, we did it!
Playing with light and shadow has been a theme in my work since many years now… and while I was doing the Passage Room at Satan’s Democracy, long-time friend and colleague Lena Strand came up with the idea to bring our knowledge and spirits together in a jam session on light… Wow!
We both knew we just had to do it… only, it took a while until it actually happened. But finally, on the 3rd of January 2017, we met in Lokstallet, Gnesta – a 19th century railway roundhouse, now hosting a local theatre. I brought my 2 x 1,5 metres connectable wooden frames, together with some twelve meters of thin silk fabric. Lena brought an overhead projector, two diapositive slide projectors, a roll of stage lighting filters… and two of her former students, Maria and Daniella. What a surprise! They, in turn, had rope, glassware, paper, torchlights… and so, our LightJam could begin.
Through four days, we explored light in various modes, from the first winter morning sunrays penetrating the room horizontally, casting coloured shades to slowly wander over the walls, to patterns of transparent glass objects projected on screens, and our own shadows double-exposed in a maze of framed silk. Here’s the story in photos:
Day 1 and 2.
Lena and I are the first ones to show up. Lena prepares a paper with some lighting filters, and the pale winter sun graciously plays the role of the spotlight, shining in through the glassed entrance windows. Lena catches the coloured dots on a silk banner, I try to grasp them with my hands… When the sun passes around the corner, Maria arrives. For the first day, there’s only the three of us. The next day, Daniella is also with us. Daniella, Maria and I all meet here for the first time – actually, Lena is the only one to have met with all of us beforehand. So, it’s a process of getting to know each others, as well as the space and the materials. We interweave the handling of physical objects with sharing earlier experiences of process work and improvisation, and our proposals for now. Everything is very casual, and equally serious. We go out for lunch, then set up the dia projector and arrange a couple of transparent screens to play with shadows.
Clear sky again. In addition to yesterday’s colour dots projected into the theatre space, I want to try a two-direction setup; I cover some of the glass panes with lighting filters. When dusk falls, I will be able to use the theatre’s spotlights to project outwards, where untouched snow provides a large white screen. Glass items on the overhead projector produce stunning patterns. Dark, thinly woven fabric covers the long walls to improve acoustics; they also serve to doubling up and distorting the projections, amazing! Lena uses ropes to visualize a process of divergence and convergence… This is actually what we’re continuously practicing here; defining our starting points, then trying out ideas individually or in flexible constellations, then gathering for sharing and reflecting – and for long lunches! Then redefining, and starting over – converging, diverging, converging… Like breathing.
We start talking about how to present our work – tomorrow, we have announced an Open House event for a couple of hours. After a full day’s work, I’m vivified and content. For tomorrow, I’m packing some tools, a silk painting, and a set of diapositives from the 1970’s for the projector…
During the first hour, I’m alone in the room. The morning sun treats me an exuberant light show… Lena enters to see the finale.
The idea of diverging and converging becomes the organizing concept for our presentation; visitors will be led between the wall and the acoustic curtain to the very back of the room, guided by a light trail; a narrow corridor, but not claustrophobic thanks to the transparency of the fabric. From the end of the tunnel, they will find different paths back to the entrance/exit door, while experiencing and experimenting with the different set-ups: the overhead projector, where objects could be altered, exchanged and moved around to change the projected patterns; a semi-transparent film screen (a large piece of cheap paper, really), showing a video compilation from days 2 and 3; the labyrinth of coloured silk screens for shadowplay, leading up to the red and blue silk painting; the two dia projectors, whimsically showing superimposed pictures of traditional Canarian crafts and paintings by Cézanne and Picasso, mixed with lighting filter monochromes… free to play with. Daniella couldn’t be with us this last day, but we implemented her concept of hanging ropes in the shape of a tree trunk, to cast shadows. Torchlights proved very useful here!
We were happy to have a number of visitors – some of them skilled professionals in colour design and light techniques, others just curious in the most delightful way…
And the day after… Light Jam finished; taking things down, packing, withdrawing. The light will stay, increasing by minutes every day… for a while.
Today and tomorrow, you can still see the Karl Schultz-Köln memorial exhibition at Art Lab Gnesta. The exhibition will close with an event connecting Karl’s own research theme to contemporary art and research. Die Bildfläche als Erkenntnisfeld (roughly: the Image as a Field of Experience) was the title Karl chose for his collected essays, edited in 1998. To connect and comment on this, I will stage a Lab Talk with artist Jan Rydén, whose project Thinking Through Painting is ongoing since 2009.
The huge differences between these artists are obvious; so, the question is rather, if there exist any common parameters?
What does the image offer as a field of experience?
For my own part, I’m really looking forward to this… Jan – you are most welcome to Art Lab Gnesta!
And everybody else – you are, too!
Karl Schultz-Köln: Winter (oil on canvas); photo HHW.
Get up early. Leaving Tokyo from Narita Airport at midday. First passing over red mountain ridges, meandering rivers and roads, then the deep blue for a while. Clear day.
Another shore. Marshlands. Patterns much like marbled paper in old books; running water under ice and snow – going this way, that way.
Then the highlands, watershed.
Floating high above Siberia for hours and hours, hooked between the progressing afternoon in Tokyo and Scandinavian morning. An outstretched present, clock jumps back and forth. North of the polar circle; night at noon.
Rivers running north. The surface bears witness of forces working from below, exposed to those working from above. Geology, meteorology. Interface like a text which I can only vaguely guess the meaning of. Sometimes – but rarely – tracks of human activities. A broad, straight road. A military base? A single light shining from the shore of the Kara Sea.
Light, temperature, time; basics.
Cecilia’s adapter doesn’t work.
No cellphone, no laptop, no Internet. Just eyes and ears and presence. Pencil and paper, too.
Take the local bus to next village. There’s a temple, with a steep hillside garden behind. There’s a mountain brook, running quietly, and a stone reservoir offering its clear cold water to visitors. Bright sunlight sieves through the deep red foliage of maple trees, reaching down into the water. Delicately indented leaves scattered on threadstones and thick green moss. In the garden, two hundred and fifty Buddha’s disciples carved out of rock; each human figure caught in movement, in meditation, in anger, in story-telling, in rest, in laughter…
I like it here.
Three stone sculptures in Choanji Temple garden, Sengokuhara;
graphite pencil on paper.
Bonus: In the Garden by Van Morrison (from the album No Guru, No Method, No Teacher 1986; this version played live in Norway 1988. Sweet intro!)
No guru, no method, no teacher
Just you and I and nature
And the Father in the garden
This is Gnesta Konstrunda 2012, a local ‘Meet the artist’-event. Just like a year ago, I’m invited to exhibit some works at Åmells Möbler – a company showroom for skilfully handcrafted furniture. I mount the recent #I triptych and place it between two cabinets… Right.
#I (work in progress) displayed at Åmells Möbler;
oil on canvas, app. 200 x 200 cms
And next, 14 prints representing the Zurbaran Santa Casilda are hung at the approximate eye-level of a young girl.
The legend of princess Casilda, discovered when carrying bread to the imprisoned martyrs held by her father, echoes in black and white images against the backdrop of stylish furnishing. Or, from another viewpoint, the prints provide a modest background for the items on display.
Ok, this is it. Now for two days of meeting the public…