Ice installation by Julia Adzuki and Patrick Dallard
the green octave, paintings by Helena Hildur W.
the green octave, projections by Johannes Ferm Winkler
Art’s Birthday 2022: Bilder från Nysund / New Sound Images in Gnesta’s Old Watertower
Finally, let’s celebrate! The doors of the Watertower are open; inside, guests are welcomed by an installation of light and ice, glass and water. The green octave paintings – modest in size – are on display along one of the walls. Upon the next three sides of the tower, the pictures transfigure into light projections, opening up to an imaginary summer day.
the Green Octave, projections by Johannes Ferm Winkler
For myself, this is a process equally wondrous and interesting; from the beginning, years ago, where I take a walk immersed in the light and sounds of the surroundings; next, converting my impressions to a small-sized painting; leading up to this joint venture, where the landscape re-emerges by technical means… or, sprung from the inner nature of human minds. The space floating with light and sound… the landscape transcended.
On Monday, January 17, the Art’s Birthday network* will support a webradio streaming, where 25+ art spaces around the globe – from Tokyo to Vancouver – will share photo and audio streams in an interactive mesh.
Above: Fold a Hat outside the Watertower, Gnesta 2022; photos by Johanna Dahl and HHW. Below: Robert Filliou, Rome 1972; photo by Joaquín Romero
* About Art’s Birthday worldwide: the event was first proposed in 1963 by French artist Robert Filliou, as a public holiday to celebrate the presence of art in our lives. In recent years, the idea has been taken up by a loose network of artists and friends around the world, welcoming new partners working with the ideas of exchange and telecommunications-art. Since 1963, Art’s Birthday has generated parties and gatherings, correspondence and mailart, sound and video art, music composed for telephone lines, radio and (starting in the mid 1990’s) for the Internet – and, following Fillou’s example, the folding of paper hats.
Sunrise at 05.38 on Saturday, August 28th… Over the past week, instruments and gear have been moved into the water tower. Tomas has mounted the mikes and loudspeakers, and we have all brought blankets and sleeping mats to make our personal nests along the inner wall. An installation by Patrick releases water dripping from a container above into glass jars in a plastic tub on the ground floor; drip-drop in irregular intervals, like notes from a piano played slowly… and now, time has come; the SoundWavesLament begins.
Julia’s low, steady heart beats, transmitted via contact microphone, and little sounds of dripping water; mingling with humming voices, floating rhythms strummed and tapped; at times, blending with birdsong from outside; passing on to field recordings from World Listening Day; a gentle Sunrise River Reverberation. Julia’s text On Lament is read and echoed, before the first hour closes with a sonic meditation by Pauline Oliveros – Teach Yourself to Fly.
what is a lament for you? for me, lament is a love song in which no-thing is concealed where the whole of the heart, even the muck at the bottom is revealed released, transformed perhaps through the exhale of sound waves through the mouth, the fingers, the pores of the skin through all the bodies one inhabits and is inhabited by not just the bodies human but the elemental ones lament is the transmutation of water from solid to liquid from flow to effervescence.
A howl in the night, a blood song a discharge and dance where it all comes out a place where there is space for all, even that which is held most tightly as a ball inside – the shame, the grief, the lost and broken stories lament is a vocal seamstress, stitching all parts together again making whole and weaving not just human story stories of places that are part of us, our companion species the whole ghost of our civilization’s environmental grief that so few have been singing for so long that lives in all of us, even when dormant.
There underground where the bones lay in the mulch of years of fallen leaves a fertile ground is woven with threads almost invisible a mycelial weft exchanging life and messages between trees an uprising of fruiting fungal bodies in a wondrous variety of forms a lament to the wind sending spores on the airwaves.
Lament reaches deep into our bloodlines to generations before, through all the veins of life giving and life taking away not just my paternal grandfather, but all the people he killed in war not just the environmental destruction of the land where I was born, the land I live now but the brutal treatment of first nations people on who’s lands we live today though lament we might let our selves feel this not just in historical knowledge but in our bones, under our feet where we walk.
To lament might unravel a small sorrow and with it release the energy of years that that little sorrow held back moving the grief that froze, moving the shame that coagulated moving with flow, into action and compassion for every one another listening with the heart as an organ of perception could it change the way we live?
Julia Adzuki August 4th, 2020
The second hour opens with Anka Draugelates‘ agile, full-toned voice overflowing with love and agony… but as the programme continues, an unexpected problem occurs within the web radio connection: every now and then, sounds of water interrupt the broadcast – sometimes flowing and burbling, sometimes flushing like a loo… How strange! The following performance is paused for troubleshooting. Tomas targets some suspect files and deletes them. Web streaming is taken up again, according to programme, but those ghost sounds keep haunting the broadcast and the source cannot be tracked. Before noon, we have to give in and finish the live stream. Once the decision is taken, confusion turns into focused presence.; the programme is reordered and the SoundWavesLament resumes – for now, enclosed within the tower.
From herding calls to soft singing bells, from poetic readings and instrumental improvisations to Dido’s lament deconstructed, and further; to a sing-along of melodious gratitude, a purging ceremony by violin and an electronic/sonic Northern light experience; a ritual lament pulsates within us, between us; releasing emotions and opening up for what will become… past sunset, all the way into the night.
We – the Ljudtornet/Soundtower team – sincerely apologize to our listeners that the announced live streaming of the SoundWavesLament had to be cancelled. Nevertheless, the mishap eventually came across as an unexpected blessing; enhancing artistic focus within a ritual space.
The recorded event is now permanently available (along with updated programme and further information) at: Ljudtornet / ANTENN 2020
When our planning for ANTENN 2020 began, back in the fall of 2019, we had an urgent feeling that time had come to level up; to set up a collaborative process, with the intent to actually create artwork in situ. Next, a double theme emerged; the element of water as subject matter, and lament as a structural idea and modality. We identified places in the surroundings, embodying certain qualities – the lake, the rivulet, the wellspring, the sewage treatment plant – and we invited eight artists/musicians to a seminar in late August.
Come August 21st, there’s still some groundwork to be done. Tomas is busy checking the technical equipment and mowing the grass, Karin providing maps and drafting a time schedule, Patrick shopping and cooking… In the evening, our guests arrive – bringing their instruments and devices, their artistic experiences, their openness and awareness.
Next morning, Anka Draugelates joins us on zoom from Germany, and Tuomas Rounakari from Finland – sharing his knowledge of lament in ancient Karelian tradition. Katt Hernandez has brought equipment for field recordings along with her fiery violin, Torbjörn Grass his grassophone and Erik Peters his perceptive listening and composer skills. Björn Ola Lind presents his work with indigenous communities in Australia and the Arctic, and with Ljudtornet’s sister initiative Cisternen – the Tank in Härnösand. The seminar proceeds; Julia reads her text On Lament and the concept gradually becomes more familiar to all of us. We once more enjoy Patrick’s French galettes, and find our ways to the water and to each other in fluctuating constellations. Johanna Dahl and John Beck process their impressions in improvised musical dialogue…
Patrick loves all, serves all
Johanna and John
Katt doing field recording
Sunday August 23rd: we gather in the water tower, to try out some first thoughts and impulses. The means of expression vary wildly in this heterogenous group: from voice and instruments to performance and self-built sound installations; from acoustic to electronic, to herding call, jazz, contemporary art music, sacred and classical influences, folk music and indigenous rituals.
The SoundWavesLament is taking shape. Communication flows. Isn’t it marvelous?
left to right: Torbjörn Grass, Katt Hernandez, Björn Ola Lind, Erik Peters, John Beck, Helena Hildur W, John Beck, Patrick Dallard, Tomas Björkdal, Julia Adzuki, Karin Lindström Kolterud
SoundWavesLament time schedule
Afterwards, we all sit down outside the tower… Time for a photo op; time to conclude. Julia presides by the whiteboard, as the seminar comes to a close. We end up with a draft for the week to come – and for the 38 hours’ performance we’re heading for.
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.
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; photo HHW.
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
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:
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.
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.