As a visitor at Satan’s Death, you would be clad in a loose white shirt, welcomed by the infernal Woland and presented to a narrative frame where you are now entering the afterworld. Further equipped with a white mask, torchlight and earphones, you are requested to move under silence and sent into a whitewashed shadowland to explore your bygone memories and choices…
photo credit: Anja Dahlgren
A voice in your headphones will give suggestions and reflections as to who you are or what to do, accompanied by a slowly evolving piece of music. Turning around a corner, you may suddenly realize that the music transmitted is actually played live; although the four musicians are located in separate rooms – far apart from each other – the cello, violin, wind instruments and grand piano are connected over radio. During your two hour stay, you will experience installations, sculptures, images and live performances by nobody-knows-exactly-how-many artists (and occasionally encounter Woland) – until finally summoned to the bar, where you are invited to be re-born to the outside world.
As participating artists, we were challenged to interact with the audience in different ways; by defining tasks and choices in how to interpret our artworks, but also by being present ourselves. I chose the latter, and decided to revive the almost-forgotten pagan celebration of a midwinter wedlock. Impersonating the Bride of the Harvest (in the 19th century christened Saint Lucia), I began exploring the language of performance – to me new and intriguing.
Meanwhile, the compost lived a warm and mushy life of its own. Fungus ligaments spread in delicate patterns and rottening potatoes sprouted white shoots. A centipede quietly patroled the top edge of the container, as I offered apples, satsumas and odorous soil to visitors, and the occasional fruitbat was taken care of by two little spiders – white and merciless as Death.
photo credits: Mia Malcyone
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!