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.
For donations to bushfire relief funds:
WIRES Wildlife Rescue
Fire Relief Fund for First Nations Communities
Robert Filliou in 1972 (photo: Joaquin Romero)
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.
During the fall of 2013, I was heavily engaged in the Green Lab project at Art Lab Gnesta; a project focusing on the environmental impact of contemporary art. The project resulted in a publication – edited by artist Ulrika Jansson – and a half-day seminar, hosted by Art Lab Gnesta together with the Culture and Recreation department of the City of Stockholm. Now, rings are spreading on the water: on Thursday, I was invited by the Swedish Artists’ Organisation (KRO) and Konstnärernas Centralköp – a cooperative artists’ materials store – to hold a workshop in Stockholm together with Ulrika. Some thirty professionals showed up, and first we all got some hard facts about art production and water pollution, from an environmental engineer’s point of view. Then Ulrika gave a lecture on contemporary art dealing with environmental issues, highlighting artists such as Marjetica Potrč, Chris Jordan, Eva Bakkeslett, Andrea Hvistendahl, Paula von Seth and Erik Sjödin. For the coffee break, the party divided in groups to share experience and ideas around chosen themes. It’s so simple; and it works. I so enjoy the bubbly sound of animated dialogue… and the final round up session brought about a handful of significant ‘next steps’ to be implemented in collective studios, in artists’ associations and various professional undertakings.
What an optimistic evening!