Passage Room@Satan’s Death (construction)

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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

Sharing a secret garden (July 17th – 21st)

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The second workshop week begins, with a new set-up and new people arriving; and, as always, group dynamics are deeply engaging. We’re all individuals, but what determines our readiness to collaborate? How do we sustain an emotional space where shared pleasure doesn’t block the individual performance – or the reverse? My function is to find ways for creative coexistence, every day anew.

This time, the story takes a slightly different turn; the sun is dimmed by a grim July Shadow, and the refugees drift away in darkness – surviving by throwing their nets to catch fish from the deep… This somehow seems to mirror the general atmosphere within this group, where the majority of participants go in for personal projects rather than collaborations – each one catching their own fish.

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Some of us get along quietly, others draw a lot of attention – yet there is mutual respect. There are just so many ways of being human; of becoming…

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Anna, Emilia, Robert, Tomas, Lars-Ola, Marianne, Göran and everybody else – thank you so much for opening such colourful, remarkable views into your inner worlds!

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Sharing a secret garden (July 12th – 14th)

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Works by participants in the creative summer workshop at Gillberga, Södertälje (photo: HHW.)

Each morning, our story evolves a bit further. After days and nights at sea, the refugees finally reach a safe shore. Among the few precious things they’ve brought with them is a pouch filled with seeds of all kinds: chia seeds, white beans, sunflower seeds… Conch seeds and starseeds too. A grumpy gardener shows up. A minute butterfly alights upon a rainbow-coloured dreamcatcher. Instantly, the seeds are sprouting… Blue-striped flowers and roses spring into bloom. Maybe we can settle here?

I am very privileged to spend my days together with friends like you in the Land of Mir. Thank you for this week – Sofia, Christian, Ragad, Tommy, Pia, Henry, Ulf and others! May your secret gardens always bloom and bring you sweet fruit.

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Sharing a secret garden (July 10th – 11th)

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skaparläger 2017 021First day of the summer workshop. Around twenty people meet up in the morning. Some are newcomers, most of us have met before. Some of us (but far from all) are experienced in painting, modelling and drawing. As a group, we represent a broad range of physical/cognitive variations, with one constant: our common need for – and delight in – working with creative expressions. I open the workshop with the beginning of a story; a tale of a gruesome tempest and a small group of people fleeing in a boat… What would they bring with them to start a new life? And what will happen next?

In the days to come, the story will find its way through our shared emotions, experiences, images and words… No matter if you cannot speak or if your hands won’t move according to your will; sincerity and playfulness, the urge to communicate will come through somehow. Form and colour provide a powerful language.

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Two Workshops and One World Premiere

art, recent work, time-out

November came and went… I got a few days in the studio, but most of the time was spent carrying out commissions in nearby city Södertälje and rural village Gnesta. First, I did this Dreams workshop at Södertälje konsthall – together with curator-educator Sarah Guarino Florén – where partaking teenagers shared daydreams and night dreams, making conceptual self portraits (a homage to contemporary artist Anna Sörenson!) and a huge, gold-laced dream catcher…

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Dream workshop with secondary school students at Södertälje konsthall; photo HHW.

…and then, I suddenly found myself being the organizer of a very unique event in Gnesta: the world premiere of True Intention, a short documentary film by Ronnit Hasson about branding artist Linda Nordfors and Art Agency Reflection Company. This came about because of my involvement with Långsjö teater – a regional theatre group in Gnesta, the village close to my homeplace where also Ronnit and Linda are based. My undertaking at the theatre is to develop the Artist-in-Residence and community work… and, well – this was a collaboration too appealing not to explore…

True Intention invites us to follow an art project with focus on sustainability; the artist reflects upon and re-interprets the brand of BillerudKorsnäs – a leading paper packaging and pulp company. Linda’s response comes out as the ingenious design of a series of objects such as fashion dresses, director’s chairs, a history cabinet and pine tree trunks – all made from various kinds of paper. The artefacts end up forming a pedagogical space at the Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology… and the BillerudKorsnäs staff are left with new ideas about sustainability, innovation and corporate identity.

trueintentioninbjudanTrue Intention trailer

The film documentary mirrors this fascinating hybrid process, mapping out a place where sustainable innovation, philosophy, enterprise and pedagogy fuses into art. But that’s just half the story; while realizing her project, Linda engages a number of local entrepreneurs, job seekers, trainees and craftspeople in Gnesta.

And so, it made a lot of sense to launch the premiere right here. We set the date to Sunday, November 20th… and, to really make a statement, we decided to have two screenings, each followed by a panel discussion; the first one on Cultivating Sustainability by Enterprise, and the second on Cultivating Sustainability by Art. From the day the idea arose, we had little more than three weeks to realize the project. And we did it!

Here’s a few photos from the double event – the first screening at local cinema Elektron, featuring Linda and Ronnit together with councillor Johan Rocklind (municipality of Gnesta), Daniel Lundqvist (NAV Sweden), Gustav Edman (Fabel Kommunikation) and Emilia Rekestad (REALS), moderated by cultural advisor Carina Nilsson (municipality of Gnesta); and the second one at Långsjö teater matching the artists with Magdi Beky Winnerstam (artistic director at Långsjö teater), Anna Emmelin (Albaeco), artist and curator Paula von Seth, and cultural advisor Carina Nilsson (here representing the municipality), with myself moderating…

All event photos by Artur Kowalski. And many, many thanks to everyone involved!

Cultivating Sustainability by Enterprise; panel discussion at cinema Elektron.

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Local contributors and participants in True Intention documentary – on stage at Elektron!

Cultivating Sustainability by Art; panel discussion at Långsjö Teater.

Good collaborations are truly nourishing. Which was my good luck, by the way… because on the very next day (hardly having slept), I plunged into another workshop at Södertälje konsthall. Once more, I had the pleasure to team up with Sarah Guarino Florén – gracefully improvising together, on the firm ground of embodied knowledge. This week, our coworkers were fifth-graders and the workshop theme was Words and Images. We put forward the task of re-inventing language – without letters! – and gathered inspiration from emojis, roadsigns, Chinese characters and Bliss symbols… and Rudyard Kipling’s story How the First Letter Was Written. The response was immediate; not one single kid sidestepped the challenge. Through the week, we read dozens and dozens of inventive messages about pets and Christmas wishes, vacation trips, parents fleeing from war zones, love for family and friends and a mother falling ill… Their creativity was impressive, but even more so was the sincereness; both in writing, and in reading each others’ scripts.

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Words and Images workshop – lunch break, tracks remaining; photo HHW.

In all of this, I did find some time for painting and a project of my own; but that’s quite another story…

Back in the House of Nameless Storeys; part two, Satan’s Delirium

art, recent work, time-out

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accessing the Nameless Storeys

So, last year I joined the crew of 100+ artists who set the scene for Satan’s Democracy; a  piece of immersive theatre – equally playful & dead serious – based on Bulgakov’s novel Master and Margarita and inspired by Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More in New York… Three floors of a former office building transmuting in a creative flow of consumeristic debris, human-sized dolls, graffiti galore, UV-light installations and fresh asphalt (not to mention a minor forest of birch-trees)… The construction of my own contribution, the Passage Room, can be seen here. Once, it was a brightly-lit space where office workers gathered around the photocopier; distorted angles, muffling thick felt pieces, semi-transparent shadowscreens and black sand covering the floor turned it into a tiny maze where people actually get lost at times…

The project as a whole was conceived, produced, curated and directed by some truly courageous people: Jimmy Meurling, Py Huss-Wallin and Andreas Blom. They  couldn’t foresee it would end up a success, but it did – every single performance got sold-out. Furthermore, the  demolishment of the building (scheduled for the summer of 2016) got postponed… so why not keep on playing?

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Woland Presents: Part Two: Satan’s Delirium…  The grand opening was couple of weeks ago, now playing until Dec 31st (a few tickets still available)… The public, provided with masks and flashlights, find their way through a darkness mimicking the satanic delirium of a Prosecutor run amok, haunted by Woland (embodied by Otto Milde and Angela Wand). As for the Passage Room; since four out of five spotlights were removed, it’s really dark… so I have adapted it a bit, mainly by adding more mirror shards.

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161005-14bfrom the Passage Room, reconditioned October 2016