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!

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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…

For the Enrichment of Society III

art, curating, recent work

So, this is the second one of KonstFunk exhibitions x2. We’re happy to present eighteen woven tapestries by Adrian Nehard – on display at Södertälje City Hall until April 20th. This body of work relates to The Songs of Maldoror (written by the self-appointed comte/count Lautréamont and originally published in 1868); reviving their poetic imagery in contemporary colours and textures, by the use of rags, pearls, paint, and embroidery.

“Songs of Maldoror” tapestries by Adrian Nehard
at Södertälje City Hall, March 2020;
photos by Christofer Martinson

The exhibition is curated – largely by my colleague Eva-Karin Planman – to form an open labyrinth, hovering around a flowform water sculpture by Nigel Wells. On Friday March 13th, Adrian Nehard met practising alchymist and artist Lisa Jeannin in an ad-lib Artist Talk.

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Lisa Jeannin with Tarot card in front of tapestries;
photo Christofer Martinson

The audience followed closely, as Adrian and Lisa walked and talked their way along an evolving path of strange and complex representations. For a full hour, we were carried away by Adrian’s set of flying carpets – ending up in a French-Swedish reading of a passage from the Songs of Maldoror.

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Lisa Jeannin and Adrian Nehard performing their Artist Talk;
photos by HHW.

Thank you, Lisa, for joining! Thank you, Adrian, for sharing your outstanding work!

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Lisa Jeannin, Helena Hildur W, Eva-Karin Planman;
photo by Christofer Martinson

for the Enrichment of Society II

art, curating

Last week, I and my co-curators Eva-Karin Planman and Sabine Recht set up two exhibitions as a part of the KonstFunk project in Södertälje. In Luna, the municipal culture center, we gathered works by some 30 creators to form a group show – the first one of KonstFunk exhibitions x2

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…presenting a range of techniques and expressions; from textile craft to art remakes, to icons, self portraits and paintings emerging out of colour itself…

What is the meaning of creativity?

An absurd question, of course. Somebody enjoys playing with colour and materials – glossy, sticky, tufted – with no fixed intention about the final result. Another expresses a deeply personal experience; a feeling, an impression, a dream. A third person designs a “thing of beauty” to enhance everyday life… Purposes and situations differ. Disparate needs cannot easily be compared or evaluated towards each other.

The meaning of creativity can also be subject to change. What determines labels such as “therapy”, “craft”, “hobby” or “art”? Who has the mandate to categorize?

To master a language takes training and trying, again and again; art makes no exception. It needs a framework of meaningful understanding to mature into richness.

Broadening one’s technical abilities builds self-reliance and sparks ideas. Copying existing artworks is a common method for improving artistic awareness, skill and insight. Although copying does not boost ego, one’s personality will (most probably) come through in many gracious ways.

Whoever takes their work – or playing – deeply serious, also deserves an equally serious reception. Being creative together, we will all contribute to the enrichment of society…

200306 02

Also, during this same week, a solo show by artist Adrian Nehard was prepared in the City Hall – featuring eighteen woven, embroidered and (partly) painted tapestries.

More to come…

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for the Enrichment of Society I

art, curating

In 2002, I first met with some of the most ingenious and brave people I know. From that point onwards, the Land of Mir evolved; an imaginary space, where words and pictures, all kinds of creative designs and social interactions, became possible and meaningful. Functional variations were many, but in this setting the only disability would be prejudice and intolerance (which, in fact, very rarely occurred).

As an artist and a human being, I am deeply grateful for the experiences I’ve gathered over the years in the Land of Mir. And from this perspective – shared with others – the KonstFunk project has been launched; an impulse for the local community to fulfill Article 30 of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which states (among other things) that

States Parties shall take appropriate measures to enable persons with disabilities to have the opportunity to develop and utilize their creative, artistic and intellectual potential, not only for their own benefit, but also for the enrichment of society.

On Friday, February 7, KonstFunk arranged a half-day programme for employees from places where people with functional variations work, live and study. A lecture by Anneli Aaltonen Krantz (artistic leader at Inuti Foundation) was followed by artist talks with Magnus Östling (Stockholm) and Adrian Nehard (Järna). Next, participants were invited to try the tactile instruments of SymbioLab, to marvel at the felted pieces from Anna Gran‘s studio at Högklint (Mölnbo), and to delight in the wide range of expressions in icons, self portraits and still life paintings made at Klockargården (Järna) with Sabine Recht as the artistic leader.
Pictures from the occasion were shared by Södertälje konsthall (municipal art gallery):

***

Thank you, Södertälje konsthall, for hosting! Now we’ll see where this takes us… The next steps will be taken in a few weeks.

Program Inspirationsdag fm

ANTENN 2019

art, curating, recent work, time-out

Back in 2017, a happy collaboration with Julia Adzuki resulted in a Resonance Jam in the old Watertower of Gnesta; a historical venue offering unique acoustic and spatial qualities. Soon, the concept developed into a broader platform as Patrick Dallard of SymbioLab and Karin Lindström Kolterud joined in. Artist group Ljudtornet (“Soundtower”)  formed in 2017/2018, and opened the Watertower to a Sound/Art festival in late August: ANTENN 2018. On a limited budget, the festival managed to present a broad range of sound artists and musicians – all of which declared their wish to return for a next time. One of them, Tomas Björkdal, eventually became a permanent member of the Ljudtornet group and played along with the rest of us…

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Ljudtornet at play in the Watertower;
photo HHW.

And so, ANTENN 2019 was conceived… Thanks to the Swedish Performing Arts Agency and the Swedish Arts Grants Committee – in addition to the municipality of Gnesta – we could work on a considerably larger budget, and thus managed to invite residency artists throughout the summer.

Serious business in ANTENN 2019 administrative board;
photo credit Anka Draugelates

Come September, ANTENN 2019 finally staged two days of live performances and installations by 40+ artists from Sweden and abroad; once more filling the Watertower with resounding waves of light and sound. For anyone who couldn’t be present, the whole programme was live streamed over web radio (and listened to even as far away as Singapore).

My contribution was largely behind the scene. As a painter, I sometimes think of my craft as the faculty of listening with the eyes… here, I had a beautiful opportunity to sit quiet and enjoy the heartbeat of the Watertower, as rendered by so many fervent and sensible performers. Just listen:

Art Lab Gnesta/Research goes Supermarket

art, curating, recent work, time-out

Art Lab Gnesta monter

Supermarket Art Fair in Stockholm is the annual meeting point for artist driven initiatives worldwide since 2006
At Supermarket 2013, Art Lab Gnesta was represented as an independent platform for artistic research; a story which begun with the course Artistic Research Processes at Konstfack College for Arts, Crafts and Design in 2012. When the course was finished, the people involved wanted to go on – so Art Lab Gnesta opened its doors for their experimental, non-authoritarian research quest. Thirteen individual projects were brought to Kulturhuset, Stockholm, during the days of Supermarket 2013. Here’s an interview (in Swedish) explaining the whats, whys and hows of Art Lab Gnesta/Research:

Riksutställningar intervjuar Helena Hildur

Gnestopia/Grassworks/Fält

art, curating




Future policy Gnestopia, artwork by Kultivator at Art Lab Gnesta

Sunday July 22nd was the last day for Gnestopia; it had then been alive and growing for six weeks in our exhibition space at Art Lab Gnesta. It was conceived and constructed by Kultivator – an experimental cooperation of organic farming and visual art practice based in the rural village of Dyestad, Sweden – in collaboration with Gnesta 4th- and 5th-graders. Since the opening in early June, visitors have added their specific thoughts and wishes for the future and seeds have grown to blossom and fruit.
The playful, optimistic mood of Kultivator’s three-dimensional policy document was matched by the subtle and anti-monumental qualities of Grassworks, a video by Emma Göransson. Two hands braiding grass at the shore of a lake, a single voice humming; a celebration of the repetitive, the impermanent, the scarce, the indomitable.



Grassworks, video by Emma Göransson at Art Lab Gnesta

Oh, did I forget to mention Fält (“Field”)? It’s the brand new magazine launched by Art Lab Gnesta; first issue reflecting Green Year 2012 in a summertime mood. A large number of photos – from different photographers, sites and projects – produce a flow of blue, orange and green shades through the pages, while texts (in Swedish) provide food for thought, literally: on food-making as art, mindfulness and a middle-class lifestyle project; on long-term experiences from local biodynamic farmers; also about the Finnish art-and-forest initiative of Mustarinda, about a Mongolian yurt on a tiny island in lake Frösjön, and the mind of the osprey… Here’s the link:

Fält

among others VI

art, curating, recent work

watercolour painting by “T”; photo by HHW.

Here, finally, are some of those paintings which tell no other story than the one of their own creation; light perceived and rendered into material existence by a human mind process… in this case a unusually complex one, as some of the originators are neurologically cut off from their own motor functions and can perform their painting only in intimate cooperation with a supporting assistant.
The method, known as facilitated communication or FC, is used primarily for written communication by people who cannot speak. By the help of FC, many who were formerly treated as hopelessly ignorant have now been able to express their thoughts and feelings.
Here the process is taken one step further; not only expressing experience, but creating it.

two watercolour paintings by Andreas Osika; photos by HHW.