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 IV: Light Fibres, Dark Fibres (April – May 2018)

art, recent work

Having finished painting the acoustic diffuser, I return to the alcove with the circular window. The bench is there, waiting. The dyed silk is now being processed by Anna Wahl Gran and her co-workers at Högklint; felted with dark fine wool into large swathes of fabric… I receive one magnificent piece after another, and store them in the adjacent classroom. And I’ve got a set of optic fibres, a “Starry Sky Set”, ready to install. This requires some planning, a star map, a ladder and a good drilling machine, a staple gun, non-acid wood glue, a lot of tooth picks, and patience.

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First, I mark out positions for each of the 81 individual fibres, arranged to resemble some of the constellations of the Northern and Southern skies. Then, I remove the wall boards to drill the holes. That made, I stretch and fasten the felted pieces over the plywood. Toothpicks, pushed in from the backside, show where the holes are and make way through the strong fabric where the drilling machine would be useless.

Meanwhile, the fibres have been provisionally attached to the original brick wall. Now comes the patience part…

With the felt covered wall-boards loosely set in place, I can squeeze one arm in from behind to manipulate the thin fibres into their holes – working literally by fingertip sense, not being able to see through wood – and meet with the acrylic toppings from the front side. Applying the proper kind of glue, again by the help of toothpicks, and trying not to loose any of those minimal fixtures, measuring 3 by 5 millimetres…

The whole process takes me three full weeks or more, but finally I’ve arrived. And it works!

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Public Commission I: Dyeing, 2nd Batch

art, recent work

 

15 square metres were far from enough. As sun and wind drives away the last of winter, I’m dyeing a second batch – another 10 x 1,5 metres – of blue silk. This is my part of a collaboration with Anna Wahl Gran, who masters the technique of nuno felting… The dyed silk will be laid out with fine wool and felted into a compound by Anna and her co-workers; the intense blue will blend with the naturally brown and blackish shades of sheep fleece. While ironing metre after metre of fabric – in order to stabilize the dye – I admire the first test samples from Anna, thinking of those stunning photos of deep space… (Actually, pure blue isn’t really my colour.)

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APOD Lopez & Rosenberg

Above: test samples of nuno felting with fine wool and dyed silk, made by Anna Wahl Gran.
Below: M81 Galaxy Group through the Integrated Flux Nebula; photo by D. Lopez and A Rosenberg/ IAC

***

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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.

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.