Equinox

art, recent work

In this moment, Earth is once more passing that point in space and time where day and night are equal all over the planet; the equinox. In the darkness of the Passage room, the compost silently lives on. Outside, intense sunlight is reflected by the remaining snow, while soothed by no foliage. I have started working on a commission. Today’s preparations include laying out wool and dyeing silk. A cold breeze makes the silk flutter wildly on the clothesline. The wool is warm, dark and silvery. I experiment with nuno felting, a technique where thin fabric is attached to the piece of felt. More to follow…

vernal equinox

 

 

 

Passage Room@Satan’s Death (performance)

art, recent work

As a visitor at Satan’s Death, you would be clad in a loose white shirt, welcomed by the infernal Woland and presented to a narrative frame where you are now entering the afterworld. Further equipped with a white mask, torchlight and earphones, you are requested to move under silence and sent into a whitewashed shadowland to explore your bygone memories and choices…

©Malou Bergman 2

photo credit: Malou Bergman

A voice in your headphones will give suggestions and reflections as to who you are or what to do, accompanied by a slowly evolving piece of music. Turning around a corner, you may suddenly realize that the music transmitted is actually played live; although the four musicians are located in separate rooms – far apart from each other – the cello, violin, wind instruments and grand piano are connected over radio.

©Malou Bergman 3

photo credit: Malou Bergman

During your two hour stay, you will experience installations, sculptures, images and live performances by nobody-knows-exactly-how-many artists (and occasionally encounter Woland) – until finally summoned to the bar, where you are invited to be re-born to the outside world.

Malou_Bergman

photo credit: Malou Bergman

As participating artists, we were challenged to interact with the audience in different ways; by defining tasks and choices in how to interpret our artworks, but also by being present ourselves. I chose the latter, and decided to revive the almost-forgotten pagan celebration of a midwinter wedlock. Impersonating Lussi, the bride of Darkness (in the 19th century christened Saint Lucia), I began exploring the language of performance.

Meanwhile, the compost lived a warm and mushy life of its own. Fungus ligaments spread in delicate patterns and rottening potatoes sprouted white shoots. A centipede quietly patroled the top edge of the container, as I offered apples, satsumas and odorous soil to visitors, and the occasional fruitbat was taken care of by two little spiders – white and merciless as Death.

photo credits: Mia Malcyone

Passage Room@Satan’s Death (construction)

recent work, time-out

Hope.

The first part of Satan’s trilogy staged a tale of repression and resistance, while the second part captured a moment of deliriant triumph and loss. In this third and last part, ultimate disaster has already taken place. In such a predicament – what could bring hope? That was the theme presented to the artists involved, as the Satan’s Death project was launched. My spontaneous response was: compost. Because…

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Because compost turns waste into resource. Compost is biding with the power inherent in soil and darkness. Compost is… hope for new life, beyond death and destruction. Definitely, there had to be a compost in the house.

And I wasn’t the only one to think that way; artist colleague Cais-Marie Björnlod had the same feeling. Cais-Marie put her trust in worm composting, while I decided to try the bokashi fermenting method (much encouraged by facebook discussion group Bokashifrämjandet and Kajsa Sjaunja). In the house, somebody had managed to salvage a number of large plexiglass panes from a former construction site, which brought about the idea of a huge crystal-shaped container. For large-scale bokashi experience, I consulted art and agriculture initiative Under Tallarna, and started collecting household waste from various places.

My darling companion Sören Engzell provided crucial technical aid, and the work proceeded quickly. Pallkompaniet kindly provided pallets for the foundation, as well as the device for attaching metal straps to keep the hexagonal construction together – against the pressure of approximately 4 cubic metres of organic material… Meanwhile, Cais-Marie set out to make a number of smaller compost containers to hang on corridor walls. We went to visit Stockholm Biokol to collect biochar in pouring rain… As September turned October and daylight waned with each day passing, the 3500 square metres of Satan’s scenography were spray-painted white; the Passage Room was one of the few places that escaped whitewashing.

When the ‘compost crystal’ was finally fit, I started to fill it up with fermented bokashi, sand, soil and straw. Outside, trees began throwing their worn-out leaves to the ground and rowan berries glowed on naked branches. Some of that also found their way into the compost, along with moldering fruit and fungus mycelium…

On November 4th, the opening night of Satan’s Death took place.

Satan’s Death

art, recent work, time-out

It’s over.

After three years and three productions, with ~1500 co-creators and 15000 visitors; after countless hours spent and emotions shared; after valuable artistic experiences, and priceless, unique friends made; finally, the very last performance from Satan’s trilogy happened yesterday on December 31st, 2017.

“Art is dangerous, because it connects us human beings in the impossible. Instead of waiting: make! Instead of muteness: speak! Believe in the possibility of change. So, let’s!”

To all of you skillful, dedicated and loveable persons – artists, directors, volunteers, family members and visitors – with whom I’ve shared this adventure, I send a wholehearted THANK YOU!

…and: till next!

Satans dödsannons

ResonanceJam@Watertower II

art, beauty, recent work

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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.


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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:
Kularkraft

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!

ResonanceJam@Watertower I

art, beauty, recent work

Björkbom Vattentornet
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.

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ResonanceJam@Långsjö teater III (public)

art, beauty, recent work

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?

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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.

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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.

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Resonance Jam@Långsjö teater II (prepping)

art, recent work

170830 03bMorning sun sheds its light through coloured glass panes; the lense of the overhead projector captures it and projects backwards.

Hooks are attached, bells and silk pieces placed, and the sound of the bell clappers is softened by rubber lining. Very consciously, we try to avoid every set-up that suggests a centre or certain symmetry axes – instead, we wish to encourage diffusion and interferences, a recurrent loss of balance which keeps you going…

Next, we begin to play with lighting, and the light pillars get a footing of salt.

Eight of my meditation texts* are written in silver on round-cut indigo cardboards and posted on the walls behind the dark blue acoustic curtains, visible only by torchlight; Julia’s texts appear on tarot-like cards along with a calabash stethoscope.

It’s getting late. Things are coming together, but still the silk needs some ironing before we open to the public tomorrow…

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 (all photos: HHW.)

*selected from the “uncategorized” category at this site.

Resonance Jam@Långsjö teater I (prepping)

art, recent work

170814 02b

Throughout this year, I find myself trying out something – a method, of sorts. From the mid-winter LightJam – a brilliant concept coined by my long-time friend Lena Strand – to a brief ArtJam c/o Satan’s Democracy in spring. Now that summer is slowly withdrawing, I’m back at Långsjö Teater – playing a ResonanceJam together with much-appreciated colleague Julia Adzuki…

I can’t find any better words than ‘pure joy’ to describe this work. We bring various materials – home-built bells, feathers, thin silk, copper tubes, a tanned cowhide – which resonate with light and sound. We combine and move them around in seemingly random ways, and the resonance deepens. We have another week to go; next Friday, the public will be invited to take part. Julia’s daughter suggests a portal opening into a yellow place, and we realize that it’s already present… The cowhide, stretched over a metal frame, is a membrane and a portal transmitting light.

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(all photos: HHW.)

For Swedish readers, here’s some general information about the upcoming event:
Gnesta Konstrunda