200507, 200430, 200513, 200514; graphite on paper, 38×46 cms each.
Conceived in 1963 by Fluxus artist Robert Filliou, Art’s Birthday is celebrated around the world on January 17th. This year, Ljudtornet decided to join in – adding Gnesta to the motley sequence of live-streamed and broadcasted performances and happenings taking place from Tokyo to Vancouver via a number of places; Tblisi, Helsinki, Kaunas, Chotěboř, Freiburg, Gent, Villefranche-sur-Mer, London, Swansea, Brooklyn, Edmonton…
As darkness fell, the old watertower of Gnesta once more resonated with sound and light; a follow-up on sound/art festival ANTENN 2019. This time, acute sorrow was also present as bushfires raged in Australia; we decided the event be done in benefit for bushfire relief (scroll down for links).
The Art’s Birthday programme included stunning vocal performances and viola played by Anka Draugelates, as well as voice improvisations together with Karin Lindström Kolterud; Julia Adzuki presented a preview from Styx Lament – a project recently realized in the Tasmanian rainforest of Styx Valley, documented by Tomas Björkdal. Patrick Dallard of SymbioLab and I framed the performances with a light and sound installation… Even with the tower unheated, a gracious audience warmed up the space with attentive listening – and finally followed Anka Draugelates in a joyful, improvised chorus circle.
Full-time live documentation:
Art’s Birthday Bushfire Relief Concert (1): Patrick Dallard DJ’ing with dripping water & steam…
Art’s Birthday Bushfire Relief Concert (2): Anka Draugelates playing and singing in response to Watertower; Anka Draugelates and Karin Lindström Kolterud performing Swedish folk song Limu limu lima (0:04:33); Julia Adzuki presenting the Styx Lament project (0:15:00); Anka and Karin voice improvisation (1:00:00); Anka Draugelates solo (1:05:43); joyful closing circle song (1:15:09)
Art’s Birthday Festive Water Buffet / Helena Hildur W.
Robert Filliou in 1972 (photo: Joaquin Romero)
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 embroidery 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 inner 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.
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.
Coffee 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.)
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.
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…
Ljudtornet at play in the Watertower;
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:
This past week, I put the brushes aside for some days to go places and see people…
First heading West to the city of Gothenburg and HDK Academy of Design and Crafts, where I was invited to introduce the DasArts feedback method to a group of students and teachers at the Jewellery Art Programme. I already knew contemporary jewellery as a dynamic field, and the works of these students were no exception. Dealing with a diversity of topics (such as biomorphology, symmetry, space/surface transformations and trauma healing), they thoroughly proved the potential of thinking through materiality.
Encouraging inscriptions at HDK:
“Art and Learning/Give Boons and Glory”; (to) “THINK”
During the course of two days, five student projects were presented for feedback; added time for tutorials and evaluation resulted in an intense time schedule, to say the least. Nevertheless, everybody managed to give focused, warm attention throughout the whole workshop – an admirable accomplishment, especially at the end of a semester with exhibitions and examinations drawing close.
Every time I practice this feedback method, I discover new features; in this group, the evaluation talk highlighted themes like stepping out of anonymity, cultivating a practice over time, and shared experience as a common ground for individual development and change. I’m truly grateful to teachers Klara Brynge and Märta Mattsson for the invitation, and to the whole group for our shared experience.
And then I returned home, only to jump forth into another event…
For the time being, I’m re-framing my engagement in the Storytelling by Art context; and I was lucky enough to be invited to the annual conference of the European Outsider Art Association (this year held in Sweden). The programme – under the theme of E/Quality – turned out to provide a wealth of inspiration, experience and networking potential. Local hosts were the marvelous people of Inuti; a foundation, which provides space for “artistically talented individuals with intellectual disabilities and individuals within the autismspectrum”. Inuti is currently running three supported studios in central Stockholm, along with an adjacent art gallery; and building an art collection as well.
Snapshots from the EOA conference, day 1;
Inuti Lilla Essingen studio (above)
and performance by Anders Wettler (below)
Inuti spoiled us by introducing us to their exceptional studios featuring live art manifestations while in Stockholm – but one conference day was spent in the small town of Sala (approximately 130 kms northwest of Stockholm). Here, we visited Little Istanbul – the ongoing life achievement of self-taught artist Jan-Erik Svennberg – before continuing to the Ivan Aguéli Museum.
Visiting Jan-Erik Svennberg’s Little Istanbul
Now digesting the nourishing, artful, challenging experiences of my excursions; thinking and re-thinking as we walk.
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…
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…
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.
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.
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).
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.
A true friend you have been, House. A magus and a teacher, too. Now time is up.
ps. All filmed material from Satan’s Trilogy now free to watch here:
ALLA SATANS FILMER
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.
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…
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.
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!
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.
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…
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!