200507, 200430, 200513, 200514; graphite on paper, 38×46 cms each.
November – silvermonth – extended into gentle December snowlight. A few weeks spent in the studio; a homecoming. Treading lightly into the image.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
Morning 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…
(all photos: HHW.)
*selected from the “uncategorized” category at this site.
Throughout this year, I find myself trying out something – a method, of sorts. From the mid-winter LightJam – a brilliant concept coined by my long-time friend Lena Strand – to a brief ArtJam c/o Satan’s Democracy in spring. Now that summer is slowly withdrawing, I’m back at Långsjö Teater – playing a ResonanceJam together with much-appreciated colleague Julia Adzuki…
I can’t find any better words than ‘pure joy’ to describe this work. We bring various materials – home-built bells, feathers, thin silk, copper tubes, a tanned cowhide – which resonate with light and sound. We combine and move them around in seemingly random ways, and the resonance deepens. We have another week to go; next Friday, the public will be invited to take part. Julia’s daughter suggests a portal opening into a yellow place, and we realize that it’s already present… The cowhide, stretched over a metal frame, is a membrane and a portal transmitting light.
(all photos: HHW.)
For Swedish readers, here’s some general information about the upcoming event:
Finally, we did it!
Playing with light and shadow has been a theme in my work since many years now… and while I was doing the Passage Room at Satan’s Democracy, long-time friend and colleague Lena Strand came up with the idea to bring our knowledge and spirits together in a jam session on light… Wow!
We both knew we just had to do it… only, it took a while until it actually happened. But finally, on the 3rd of January 2017, we met in Lokstallet, Gnesta – a 19th century railway roundhouse, now hosting a local theatre. I brought my 2 x 1,5 metres connectable wooden frames, together with some twelve meters of thin silk fabric. Lena brought an overhead projector, two diapositive slide projectors, a roll of stage lighting filters… and two of her former students, Maria and Daniella. What a surprise! They, in turn, had rope, glassware, paper, torchlights… and so, our LightJam could begin.
Through four days, we explored light in various modes, from the first winter morning sunrays penetrating the room horizontally, casting coloured shades to slowly wander over the walls, to patterns of transparent glass objects projected on screens, and our own shadows double-exposed in a maze of framed silk. Here’s the story in photos:
Day 1 and 2.
Lena and I are the first ones to show up. Lena prepares a paper with some lighting filters, and the pale winter sun graciously plays the role of the spotlight, shining in through the glassed entrance windows. Lena catches the coloured dots on a silk banner, I try to grasp them with my hands… When the sun passes around the corner, Maria arrives. For the first day, there’s only the three of us. The next day, Daniella is also with us. Daniella, Maria and I all meet here for the first time – actually, Lena is the only one to have met with all of us beforehand. So, it’s a process of getting to know each others, as well as the space and the materials. We interweave the handling of physical objects with sharing earlier experiences of process work and improvisation, and our proposals for now. Everything is very casual, and equally serious. We go out for lunch, then set up the dia projector and arrange a couple of transparent screens to play with shadows.
Clear sky again. In addition to yesterday’s colour dots projected into the theatre space, I want to try a two-direction setup; I cover some of the glass panes with lighting filters. When dusk falls, I will be able to use the theatre’s spotlights to project outwards, where untouched snow provides a large white screen. Glass items on the overhead projector produce stunning patterns. Dark, thinly woven fabric covers the long walls to improve acoustics; they also serve to doubling up and distorting the projections, amazing! Lena uses ropes to visualize a process of divergence and convergence… This is actually what we’re continuously practicing here; defining our starting points, then trying out ideas individually or in flexible constellations, then gathering for sharing and reflecting – and for long lunches! Then redefining, and starting over – converging, diverging, converging… Like breathing.
We start talking about how to present our work – tomorrow, we have announced an Open House event for a couple of hours. After a full day’s work, I’m vivified and content. For tomorrow, I’m packing some tools, a silk painting, and a set of diapositives from the 1970’s for the projector…
During the first hour, I’m alone in the room. The morning sun treats me an exuberant light show… Lena enters to see the finale.
The idea of diverging and converging becomes the organizing concept for our presentation; visitors will be led between the wall and the acoustic curtain to the very back of the room, guided by a light trail; a narrow corridor, but not claustrophobic thanks to the transparency of the fabric. From the end of the tunnel, they will find different paths back to the entrance/exit door, while experiencing and experimenting with the different set-ups: the overhead projector, where objects could be altered, exchanged and moved around to change the projected patterns; a semi-transparent film screen (a large piece of cheap paper, really), showing a video compilation from days 2 and 3; the labyrinth of coloured silk screens for shadowplay, leading up to the red and blue silk painting; the two dia projectors, whimsically showing superimposed pictures of traditional Canarian crafts and paintings by Cézanne and Picasso, mixed with lighting filter monochromes… free to play with. Daniella couldn’t be with us this last day, but we implemented her concept of hanging ropes in the shape of a tree trunk, to cast shadows. Torchlights proved very useful here!
We were happy to have a number of visitors – some of them skilled professionals in colour design and light techniques, others just curious in the most delightful way…
And the day after… Light Jam finished; taking things down, packing, withdrawing. The light will stay, increasing by minutes every day… for a while.
from the studio, March – August 2016 (photo HHW.)
So, writing and commissions aside, there’s always the studio. And during the past week, I’ve returned to this canvas (started out in March). It’s strongly related to the graphic work, but I don’t know yet where it’ll take me; only thing I know is that by now it’s calling for another one. And I need to give it time. Attention.