Interfaith Dialogue by Images

art, recent work, teaching, time-out

Before words, there are images. Before reason, there’s love and courage. Before theology, there’s faith.

Radiant autumn leaves and crisp air outside; indoors, preparations are almost finished. My colleagues Jana and Sofia are carrying chairs around. Samia is away, waiting at the bus station to greet the participants. I’m laying a table with needles and threads of all colours; making a display of tambours along with pieces of cloth, cut to fit.

Morning workshop, preparations; photos Jana Jakob, Sofia Nordin

Just before 10am, they all arrive: twenty women of different faiths, ages and backgrounds, walking down the long slope to the school building by the lake. After coffee and an introduction round – followed by a moment of silence – we gather in the studio. Everybody is invited to use needle and thread to “draw” what they bring into this day of Art, Sisterhood and Interreligious dialogue.

Morning workshop: capturing images by embroidery;
photos Jana Jakob, Sofia Nordin

Another 45 minutes of concentration, intermixed with laughs and chatting… and so, the embroideries are more or less ready for presentation, accompanied by a few words from the maker.

Most of us have never met before, but as as the day passes, we’re getting to know each other; our inner worlds revealed, by words and images.

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Images from the soul; photos Jana Jakob, Sofia Nordin

Next comes lunch – and then another round of sharing. We take turns in listening to each others’ stories. Divided into smaller groups, and tutored by Jana, we practise awareness to factual experiences, to emotions and to inherent values; an exercise, which demands concentration but nevertheless leaves us light in spirit.

191005 42 JJCoffee and fruit break; photo Jana Jakob

For the afternoon workshop I have prepared large sheets of cardboard, washing them repeatedly with Chinese ink. Now they cover a row of tables, assuring there’s space enough for everyone to stand side by side and paint.

First, some experimenting; trying out how wax and pastel crayons, acrylic paint and tissue paper go together with the dark background. Then, take a step back and look for what could emerge from those colour samples… Everybody takes her pick of a new starting point, and begins to work it out. As the individual paintings are expanding, brushstrokes suddenly meet and begin to intersect. How to handle the encounter? In some places, colours blend into each other. In other places, they form distinct edges. Then, again, some bordering fields may be overlayed by stars or connecting dots…

The larger picture unfolds. An adventure.

Painting workshop, process photos (above, photos by Jana Jakob and Sofia Nordin);
in-between spaces (below, photos HHW.)

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The concept for this day of interreligious, feminist dialogue sprung from experiences of an ongoing study circle in Scriptural Reasoning; from a yearn for expanding methods and deepen insights. Also, from the awareness that love and courage can be recognized across cultural borders; that personal faith can be revealed without argument; that images can come to life.

Konst, systerskap & dialog

 

 

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ANTENN 2019

art, 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:

 

 

 

 

 

The Meeting

art, grayzone, recent work

Another invitation; another collaboration. At Kulturcentrum Järna, Rudolf Steiner’s mystery dramas will be performed during a five-day event, and a correspondent exhibition engages a number of people from the local arts and crafts scene. Nigel Wells (Virbela Flowforms), Eva-Karin Planman, Sigrid Winkler and I go for co-creating an installation. We choose a space – much like a bridge – where a staircase and two galleries connect with the upper entrance of the large auditorium. The place is central, narrow, open. Nigel makes measurements and sketches. All four of us bring in different components to the process: concepts, such as revelation, playfulness, light, body, image; references – the lamps hanging aloft under the ceiling, the dramatic theme; suggested materials like textiles, water, sand… I could see triangular crystal prisms in the large window facing due west. Mud, says Sigrid, there has to be mud. So, we prepare mudwater from the modelling clay in the workshop of Virbela. We cut and dip fifty metres of nonwoven fabric, and find a drying place in my studio.

Nigel cuts wooden pieces for the frame, Eva-Karin paints them. We calculate and drill holes for the wires. Then comes the mounting; twenty-four prisms hanging in the window, the frame put together and installed. And finally, attaching the veils.

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There it is. A breathing body, a light-and-shadow labyrinth, a crossroads; the Meeting.

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Leaving the House

art, recent work, time-out

Satan’s Death – last part of Satan’s Trilogy – was brought to an end by New Year’s Eve 2017. We, the artists, quickly transformed ourselves into LVL4 art association (named after the primary studio/hangout space on the 4th level). By doing this, we managed to stay in-House for yet another year. No more theatre production…

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LEVEL 4 exhibition (November 2018)
…but on November 1st, doors were opened to the public once again. For a full month, visitors could experience installations, sculpture, paintings, sound art and performances – such as The Magic Garden (Anja Dahlgren/#cversatilesthlm), Polluted Ocean (Elise Mattisson Chue), Seastar’s Sea (Eka Acosta), The Ritual (Robin Victor Dahlqvist), Fear Less (Em Fexeus), 700 portraits (Camilla Hammarin), Våga! (Thea Blanca)… to mention just a tiny fraction.

 

And more; the Hackshack project, lead by Alice Bulukin and Ivan Alexander Höök, invited everyone to build and experiment with electronic devices. The remarkable Archive for Temporary Art (Lisa Fält, Victor Gussing Chihuailaf, Carolina Alvear Bello and Klara Nordqvist) curated five short-term exhibitions within the exhibition. Makaroni photo studio offered instant portraits. Younger artists like Albin Limnell shared space with professionals such as Frida Farm and Izabella Englund

 

…and then there was the abundance of graffiti/street art; DEMENZ&MYS, DIRTY, OMEH, Klotterklungan and others curated by Juntan… plus LEEV, Ziggy, KLTR and more…

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Juntan/Ziggy

As for the Passage Room, it just… stayed. Honoured with a sound installation – Livmoder (Uterus) – by Nathanael Saposnikoff, the compost lead a quiet life, tending its fertile darkness.

 


FINISSAGE-EXORCISM (December 1st-2nd, 2018)

 

Come December, the exhibition ended with a nonpareil art party finissage – staging thirty hours of live music, DJ’ing, spontaneous jamming, sporting all kinds of heavenly/demonic outfits and dancing through the night… By noon next day, a bleak, reluctant December sun watched DJ Lucinda Illernäs perform the outro in Woland’s chamber. And so, the immense, thirty-hour-long, imaginative-beyond-borders and completely impossible FINISSAGE-EXORCISM closed this chapter – opening all minds to the next level.

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E+X+O+R+C+I+S+M

Leave-Taking (December 3rd-23rd, 2018)
After which every material part of the artworks had to be disassembled, stripped and removed; it took us three more winter weeks, and filled 17 containers… From time to time, I rambled the corridors collecting marks, traces and moments.

 

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Halfways, a portion of those loose bits and pieces came to serve as backdrop in The Last Party trailer for Gothenburg Film Festival 2019 (starring, once more, Angela Wand).

 

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The Passage Room was emptied, too: all wooden, textile, acrylic and metal parts dismantled; the stones and soil and reeds and ashes returned to earth; the lights shut down.

 

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***

A true friend you have been, House. A magus and a teacher, too. Now time is up.

TOODLE-OO!

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ps. All filmed material from Satan’s Trilogy now free to watch here:
ALLA SATANS FILMER

Public Commission VIII: Everything Coming Together (Finally)

art, recent work

School is closed for a week-long autumn break. I meet up with technician Per-Arne Sträng – who also happens to be an artist in his own right – to mount the map pieces. One and a half day of smooth collaboration…

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…and – we nailed it! This is it.

181105 02bCluster 1 (1A, 1B): the school building

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181030-13b.jpgCluster 2A – 2D; overview (above) and close-ups (below)

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181109 01bClusters 3 (3A, 3B) and 4 (4A – 4F), overview

Cluster 3, close-ups

Cluster 4, close-ups

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181101 01bCluster 5A – 5E, overview (above) and close-ups (below)

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Cluster 6A, 6B, overview (above) and close-ups (below)

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On Friday morning, Leif Josefsson – the school librarian – pops by and improvises an interview for the facebook site…

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So, this is really it; all the map pieces are mounted, the starry sky alcove is glowing, and the light projections are up and running.

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Just one more thing for Monday;

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let’s welcome everybody back to school with a surprise opening; snacks, grapes and applejuice… Good morning!

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And now, it’s all yours. Enjoy!

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Public Commission VII: Embroidery Galore (August – October 2018)

art, recent work

With the starry sky alcove and the coloured spotlights set in place, I could return to the third part of the commission: the school road mapping.

Back in spring this year, schoolkids in two classes presented me with their hand-drawn maps – each one showing their own path from home to school. I began to fuse those forty-something individual images into one collective map. Some related to places that were easily recognizable, and some of their features were obviously identical; a supermarket, a traffic circle, those two water pools and the Thai restaurant. Others were very personal, and sometimes pertaining to different layers of reality; a secret tree-house, an encounter with a friend or a wild animal, or some wildly ambivalent feelings expressed in graffiti style… And there were suns, and moons, and stars.

Having arrived at an overview, I again divided the map in triangular parts and arranged the sketches in clusters designed for five different walls; now with the individual paths intertwined – sometimes interacting – and (almost) all ending up in the central piece with the school building.

Then, twenty-one pieces of felt were cut and prepared with starch. Similarly, twenty-one wooden boards were produced to tauten the felt pieces onto. And the embroidery race started…

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It was pure delight to discover all the details of the kids’ maps; humorous – sometimes cheeky – emotional, colourful, observant and straightforward. In rendering their felt-tip pen drawings into yarn stitches, I did my very best to stay true to the original.

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August and September came and went. Stitching, listening to the radio, stitching; pausing only to eat and sleep, and sometimes to go buying more mouliné thread… And slowly, the map took shape. By the end of October, I stowed the embroidery table away. The map was ready to mount.

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Interlude: duet with the setting sun

art, beauty, recent work, time-out

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.

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Public Commission VI: Coloured Light, Curious Shadows (May-June 2018)

art, recent work

What next? After the night comes morning light… The starry sky alcove calls for a surrounding light design. Earlier, I did some tests with torchlights – but where to find permanent spotlights producing such a distinct, sharp-edged image?

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Torchlight test

Having searched high and low, and after consulting lighting experts – among them Gerhard Rehm at CDC Lighting and Bengt Ahlin at Färgrum – I finally find the spotlights I’m looking for, through the Rebel Controls company; they’re actually miniature gobo projectors. And, they’re expensive. And, they don’t really fit into the existing wall, because they’re too long; need to add a few centimetres of thickness there.

Spotlight collars – design and result

So, I contact Snickerifabriken Järna – a carpenter’s shop where they do CNC lathing – and present a sketch. And – whoaa! – what a beautiful piece of work they produce: ten perfectly cone-shaped collars, lathed out from hard five-ply birchwood. Thank you, carpenter Nisse! Rather than painting the collars to “blend into the wall”, I’ll pay tribute to craftsmanship by treating them with matte varnish.

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Collars mounted, wiring installed

Site director Anders has been very supportive all along; now he brings a hole saw and cuts all the holes I have marked out. Electrician Thomas does the wiring, and I can mount the spotlights. A day or two for trying out the colour filters and set the final composition – having great fun…

Shadow selfie with three spotlights

Meanwhile, school goes on. The spring term is soon coming to and end. Schoolchildren still aren’t allowed to visit the workplace area – but every now and then I do a little guided tour around the venue for a group of curious kids together with their teachers, or on their own… They are the ones who will spend the days and years to come up here. To share the joy with them is even better than playing alone with light and shadows.

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Public Commission V: More on Acoustic Panels (April-May 2018)

art, recent work

Remember the pre-fab absorbers recommended for three of the classrooms? Did I mention there was some debate over this? Agreed, acoustics are extremely important – but on the other hand, a colour that ends up hidden behind a white panel is actually no colour… Everyone involved plays a part in finding the best solution. The school representative wants the coloured walls to stay fully visible. What if – says the architect – what if the panels were scaled down a bit, and mounted higher up, just below the ceiling? But would they still be functional enough..? The commissioner comes up with the idea to extend those slimmed-down panels over the side walls too, and the site manager calculates the cost. Since I’m the one responsible for the colour design, I really appreciate all this good will. Next morning, I suddenly remember…

marmorull 2Marble Wool sample, by Karin Auran Frankenstein and Tomas Frankenstein Auran;
photo © Auran Frankenstein

…the Marble Wool – a material recently developed by Karin Auran Frankenstein and Tomas Frankenstein Auran, mainly using waste from the tanning industry and starch-based glue. This could be the missing link – something that would be functional as a diffuser, but also decorative in form and colour. I contact Karin and Tomas, and they kindly accept to take up the work. A couple of weeks later, they come up with sketches for three site-specific designs – far better than I could have imagined. The sketches get approval from everyone, and so we go for down-sized panels complemented with Marble Wool in three classrooms…

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Three sketches for Marble Wool installations, © Auran Frankenstein

Read more about Marble Wool and other art projects at Karin’s website:
www.karinfrankenstein.se

…or at the website for design exhibition Utvalt i Skåne (where Karin and Tomas were granted a scholarship award)

…or visit the large exhibition Next Level Craft – where, by the way, nuno-felting by Anna Wahl Gran is also on display.