Time to move on – from the digital dirtroad experience to an exquisite 19th century building by the waterfront of central Stockholm: the very first concert hall built in Sweden, patroned by the Royal Swedish Academy of Music. Today, the Musical Quarter is multi-functional venue hosting a variety of genres: from folk & world music (permanently housed in the old backyard horse stable) to early music, opera, jazz, philharmonic and purely experimental… in creative process, as well as in public performances and festivals.
Right now, the prospect of having rents increased by more than 55% threatens the whole initiative. The managing team then decided to mobilize all friends and good powers in Scendödsfestival – a full night’s total music and art experience, with free access for the public – happening on Saturday, March 11th.
I’m very happy to be counted among those friends; last week, I joined a group of visual artists – invited by our much esteemed colleague Tobias Sjöberg – to check out the site. What a marvelous place…
…and what a kind, professional and receptive bunch of people to work with. Many of us had never met before – I’m eager to see what we’ll come up with together!
More to follow…
Bronze horse close to the Musical Quarter, casted from a copy of the famous Byzantine horse sculptures in Venice; an installation by Swedish sculptor Sivert Lindblom (1989)
During the Exhibition and Life (reconsidered), a forgotten painting from thirty years ago was brought into the light… Someone found it touching, somehow – because of the lapis lazuli blue? the mere size and shape of the paper? the little “tadpole” figure? the black charcoal circle? I can’t tell. But there it was, for the first time publicly on display.
from day 3 of ‘the Exhibition and Life (reconsidered)’
I was touched, too – reconnecting with the almost forgotten place in my life where this image emerged. A feeling resonating from there to now, setting me in tune again. Urging me to respond from another me. To review the elements – their size, brightness, depth, materiality, tactility; to rethink the proportions and composition; to find a new provider of lapis lazuli pigment; to find a way of mounting the large paper for permanent display.
The lapis lazuli pigment changes in a remarkable way with the changing qualities of light; from the midday or afternoon sky, or from electric lightning. An Orthodox rabbi’s wife passes me a quote from an artist whose name she doesn’t remember: “blue is the light coming into being”.
We’re still in the undetermined process of integration. Proceeding with care.
The driving force of the Exhibition and Life (reconsidered) may have been about re-imagining an existing body of work, and co-creating in the here-and-now; yet, the creative drift is inseparably followed by a shadow called economy. Landlords and art material dealers rarely give their goods away; artists have basic human needs as well. Most of us therefore work part or full time in parallel professions (salaried). Hence, I feel the importance of recognizing when someone steps up, willing to actually pay for the artist’s work; especially when that someone is an individual with limited resources, who just happens to be touched by what they experience. This post is for you – to acknowledge the importance of your support; for the artist, it means encouragement and economic relief. For the artwork itself, it means fulfillment.
above: Snowdrop (left); Spring snowflake (right); charcoal, chalk and watercolour on paper, each 120 x 175 cms below: car packed, heading for home
Dear customers from near and far – I’m deeply grateful for our exchanges: for hours spent together under the hot studio roof, meticulously packing two large drawings for a long car transport; for the spirited talk and delicious ice chocolate cake shared in a beautiful 19th century Stockholm apartment; for all your sensitivity and recognition; and for the influx to my bank account, as well as to Médecins Sans Frontiers (as part of a deal). I hope your purchases keep giving you joy, each day to come!
diary painting 191211 03, oil and blackboard paint on wood panel; 40,5 x 20 cms
During the week-long NSU session, I got engaged in a couple of ‘ad hoc’ projects (in addition to my presentation within Circle 7, which was the ticket tomy participation here). The first one happened in the context of a cultural evening.* Together with a number of courageous persons, I staged an updated performance of a multilingual poetry reading first realized in August 2014.**
The original project sprung from a poem by Ukrainian author Tanya-Mariya Litvinyuk. In this re-staging, Ms. Litvinyuk is actually present through a sound recording sent from Kyiv the day before; her voice is heard from the laptop at the beginning. Then follows an English translation, read by Dr. Lucy Lyons, after which the English reading proceeds with ten words (all singled out from Ms. Litvinyuk’s poem). Back in 2014, those ten words sparked a collective writing process in a group of civil rights activists, and the poetic result of their joined efforts was translated from English into all languages spoken within the group. Here, I’m reading the Swedish version – followed by a fresh translation into Belarusian by NSU participant Alina Kalachova, created for this occasion. Crucial contributions (although not visible on screen) were also made by Maru Mushtrieva.
photo credit: Alina Kalachova
photo credit: Ami Skånberg Dahlstedt
The multilingual reading evening engaged about 35 attendants, and took place in the school’s chapel.
My second ‘ad hoc’ engagement was in Disa Kamula’s workshop on Co-writing the future, where my contribution was the real-time mapping of an unfolding utopian narrative… From the resulting vision of a bright future, I finally erased all details but three: …people of all ages… …essential work… (cleaning up, that is)
…future generations in focus…
Slow walking with an old mother walking with walker
The unknown cleaner with their cleaning trolley
Focusing on the young’uns
Mapping ‘Visionary Tampere Region’ workshop; resulting World Map,
and workshop leader Disa Kamula collecting workshop material afterwards.
What did I gather from this week? Art is knowledge, and artistic research is here to stay. Democratic structures are essential, although never perfect. Disco dancing is fun – thanks, Ami Skånberg Dahlstedt!
And the map is never complete.
* The NSU multilingual poetry evening was organized by Lara Hoffman, PhD student at Háskólanum á Akureyri, Iceland; she is also the editor of Ós – The Journal, a magazine which features works of fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and artworks in multiple languages.
** The 2014 Evening of Modern Ukrainian Poetry was organized by Yulia Oleksandriv and Julia Shevchenko, in collaboration with Stockholm International Library.
Summer solstice – a turning point of the year. White nights, light becoming warmth; fledging nestlings soon ready to take flight; flowers opening and closing, before turning into the secluded process of fruition…
For myself – a turning point in my professional life. The exhibition venue is cleared and cleaned, keys returned; four weeks of exhibiting are completed. As visualized through the hexagrams from the Book of Changes, completion – a state of perfect order – will last only for a fleeting moment… to be followed by the transition to something yet unknown. Today, disorder and hope are my companions. Reconsidering will carry me on.
The first guests arrive twenty minutes before opening time, and from then I just need to stay in the flow – people coming and going all through the day… some chatting, some resting, moments of welcome feedback, many Q’s and A’s, some proper curating by a trusted colleague, a trained eye scrutinizing framing solutions… until, in the afternoon, all artworks are removed from one wall, and those who stay a little longer pick up charcoal and markers to leave some traces on the open surface. Finissage!
Once more, the spatial arrangements seem to have settled; a node. A steady stream of visitors – human and canine – resulting in a day with few photos, tiny adjustments only, suggestions not fully realized… but also, shared observations, reminiscences, recognitions… And, yes: a spontaneous performance by Mireia Rocher – creating friction, sound and warmth by drawing an invisible line around the walls with a slip of sandpaper. A powerful act of artistic courage and love; a conceptualization; a protective spell. Thank you Mireia! Thank you, all friendly souls from nearby and afar!
A lingering note from yesterday – the green feeling…
The first guest enters, dripping with rain, and makes herself at home. We compare experiences of how to balance red, blue and yellow into a floating grayness; of how to reconcile, to integrate, to pan for gold in the stream of time. Holding, and beholding, a connection beyond words. Another visitor uplifts some works of mine, turning them into a sculptural arrangement. Yet another shares his delight and hardships in trying to depart from representation in his painting practice. Newcomer or professional artist, self-taught or highly educated – what we experience is real.