Public Commission I; Light and Shadows (February – March 2018)

art, recent work

It’s not only about 30 square metres of silk, or sacks of wool and nuno felting. It’s also a matter of fibre optics and nifty spotlights, as well as sound absorbents and schoolkids’ maps… Yes, it’s a commission; a public school is being renovated, and “the 1% rule” prescribes that 1% of the budget for a public construction or renovation should be directed to artistic means… so, here we go!

February 7th: this is my first encounter with the actual venue. Downstairs, school is going on as usual – I can hear kids chatting and shouting in the corridors, and the sounds of a ballgame in the schoolyard. Up here, carpenters, electricians, tilers and painters are buzzing around in a complex system of intertwined work processes.

When first presented to the commission, I figured a concept of mapping the school road together with the kids, and rendering their thoughts and feelings into visual objects. Now that I visit the place, I also see potentials in the very light-and-space conditions. Oh, I have to explore this further…

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…this alcove, for instance; what a perfect hangout it would make. I draw a design suggestion for a sitbench, then mail my sketch to Fredriksson the local manager…

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and lo! next time I visit, it’s there!

February 26th: so, thanks to Fredriksson and Mats the carpenter, we have the bench. Now imagine this alcove darker – almost cave-like – and spotted with tiny bright dots… this is where the nuno felting and fibre optics would come in handy. I contact Anna Wahl Gran, who is willing to take on the task of producing the large pieces to cover all the surfaces; walls, ceiling and sitbench. After some detective work, I’m able to purchase a “starry sky” fibre optics set.

March 7th and 8th: two days booked for meeting school classes… but this will be the topic of a separate post. Here’s just a sneak peak of the mapping project:

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Afterwards, I play a bit with torchlights and colour filters along the curved corridor wall. What if the kids moving around here could produce colourful shadows, living images, on that wall… I wonder where to find sturdy build-in spotlights with a distinct, sharp-edged image of light and shadow? And, what would such spotlights cost?

To be continued…

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.

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.

Resonance Jam@Långsjö teater I (prepping)

art, recent work

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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.

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(all photos: HHW.)

For Swedish readers, here’s some general information about the upcoming event:
Gnesta Konstrunda

LightJam at Långsjö teater

art, beauty, recent work

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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.

Day 3.
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…

Day 4.
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.

studio work

art, recent work

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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.