ON LANGUAGES OF MOBILISATION RESIDENCY
Artist and writer, Kalle Brolin, has started a two-year long artistic research On Languages of Mobilisation. During his residency at Baltic Art Center, he will be mapping historic and current peace movements on Gotland. In May, Kalle Brolin is also joined by artist, performer and researcher, Danae Theodoridou who will be joining his research on Gotland, following, reflecting and exchanging over the artistic process and the methods.
Round table discussion – On Languages of Mobilisation
Participants include: Gunilla Almström Persson, Senior Lecturer in Rhetoric and Swedish language at Stockholm University, Kalle Brolin, artist and Danae Theodoridou, artist.
The Swedish partners of the On Mobilisation project are based on Gotland, where cultural heritage has a strong presence in the culture. At the same time, the island, strategically located in the middle of the Baltic Sea, has always been at the centre of the region’s military security policy, which has left deep traces in the culture, architecture, landscape and perhaps also in the language. During the evening we will try to get a perspective on how language is used for mobilisation purposes and which concepts influence our thinking about, for example, readiness, security and peace.
The roundtable On Languages of Mobilisation is organized by the Baltic Art Center (BAC) in collaboration with Uppsala University’s Graduate School on Sustainable Studies (GRASS) and in collaboration with Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators
On Landscapes of Mobilisation
Date: June 1
A guided bus tour with architect Gunnar Sillén takes us from Visby to the architectural remains of Gotland’s military history. A guided bus tour with architect Gunnar Sillén takes us from Visby to the architectural remains of Gotland’s military history. The tour takes us to Tingstäde lake where we will visit the fortress-like bulwark that has been under water since the 12th century, as well as Tingstäde Fortress from the 1st World War. We will continue to Slite and visit the local Maritime museum and after lunch take a boat to the island of Enholmen; a site for historic military fortifications on Gotland.
Program Thursday 12 October
Bus departs from Visby at 08.15 which will give is a guided tour up to the Bergman Center on Fårö. Once there, we get to meet Gotland residence organizers, the Sami artist Tomas Colbengtson who talks about the indigenous residence Sapmi Salasta and Jaana Eskola, former eco-coordinator at Saari Residence Finland, introduces a sustainability toolkit for residence organizers.
We get a good lunch and a presentation of Bergmancenter by director Cristina Jardim Ribeiro.
Then follows a presentation of SWAN’s Emergency Residencies and a conversation with the Ukrainian artists Katya Buchatska and Borys Filonenko who are resident artists at BAC.
We end the evening with a bus ride back to Visby where we gather at the Gotland Art Museum for dinner, talks, film and sound art and some mingling. Among other things, a group of local artists under the title Occupé-Libre will set up a kind of residence at the museum in parallel with the network meeting.
Program Friday 13 October
Friday morning will consist of walking workshops with different stations at cultural centres around Visby inner city. Then we gather again at the Gotland Art Museum for a joint lunch and to discuss the impressions from the various workshop stations. The day ends with a summary by Helena Selder, chair of SWAN and the program council of the network meeting.
Some of the sessions will be held in English.
A more detailed program with additional speakers and workshop themes will be available in September. The program will be continuously updated at the SWAN website.
Do you have questions? Feel free to contact the network meeting’s project manager Christopher-Robin Maurin.
NAARCA is co-devised and co-led by Cove Park and Saari Residence (Finland), and aims to build a long-term bridge between Scotland and the Nordic countries around the most pressing global issue of our time. The collaboration is founded upon the geological, climatological, historical, and linguistic similarities that unite both regions, and is the starting point for a permanent, expansive and holistic network of radical cooperation.
In addition to Cove Park and Saari Residence, NAARCA brings together Arctic Culture Lab (Greenland), Artica Svalbard (Norway), Art Hub Copenhagen (Denmark), Baltic Art Center (Sweden), and Skaftfell – Center for Visual Art (Iceland) to collaborate on research, institutional change and public education around climate action.
BAC residens artist Rikke Luther works on a new project More Mud, commissioned by NAARCA, that examines the new “mudscapes” that are developing as the planets heats and thaws.
Thanks to a grant from the Swedish Institute, we will be able to invite Ukrainian artists and and curators to live and work at all four residency centres during 2022-2023. The funding will also support the institutional infrastructure of our Ukrainian partner organisations as they deepen their activities to respond to the circumstances affecting the lives and work of Ukrainian artists in the wake of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine. All artists and curators in the project will be able to participate in public programmes, such as workshops, presentations and performances, and a final symposium.
The Kyiv-based artist Katya Libkind was brought in to star in the musical. Members of the extended Lviv cultural community were invited to join the group and share their expertise, serving as vocal coaches, costume designers, and sound mixers, as the production continued despite missile attacks and power cuts. Each resident has contributed his or her insights and perspectives, shaping both the form and content of the project.
Organized in episodes, the musical is adopted as a format for nurturing and sustaining the multi-generational community that has formed around soma.majsternia. The cast sing about their sleeping dreams and waking wishes, while training in mixed martial arts, cooking for one another, and persisting amidst terrific uncertainty.
In the words of Olha Marusyn, curator of the musical residency:
“Our motivation to create this musical was not to prepare a product; rather, we saw this as a format that empowered the deepening and transforming of relations – between disciplines, generations, experiences, and perspectives. For this, we speak about the musical as a residency, as time spent together. It’s a time of a shift in Ukrainian society, and there is a need to make sense of new situations. There are things that are too raw to speak about; it’s easier to sing.”
The musical will live on and be shared with the public in the form of a film, which is currently in post-production and is scheduled to premiere in Lviv in December 2022, with more screenings being discussed for additional locations in and beyond Ukraine.
The exhibition hidcarton (hidden cardboard) presents a new works by Viktor Pokydanets, an artist from Mykolaiv, Ukraine. The exhibition includes works from the title series of cardboard and from the “ros. Lit” – series, created by Pokydanets during his participation in the Kindling – Reform programme led by Sorry No Rooms Available. Humour is abundant in Viktor Pokydanets’ multimedia creations, which are used to comment on the eccentricities of life during and after the collapse of state socialism, and on the complexities of the period that followed. In true Pokydanet spirit, the works draw on a variety of references, including pop culture, agitprop, and suprematism. The series shows how easily what is “formal” can become “informal” and vice versa.
Curated by Petro Ryaska and Alex Fisher, the exhibition was held at the Transcarpathian Regional Art Museum in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, from 20 April to 9 May 2023.
The Danish artist and researcher Rikke Luther’s artistic work explores the new interrelations created by environmental crisis as they relate to Earth System. Those relation encompass themes related to landscape, language, politics, financialisation, law, biology, and economy, that she expresses in drawn images, photography, and film. Here Luther will talk about her recent work about concrete, as a reflective material in which to observe shifting patterns of social, cultural, and political order. The talk will present Luther’s ongoing research into the connections between modernity and the mineral extraction industries, soil erosion, and rapid planetary change.
Read more about Rikke Luther’s work on BAC
Out of the Sky, into the Earth — was a public art project in three acts, that took place in Visby and its surroundings. It presented a living sculpture, an AR experience and an exhibition, triggering thoughts about life, care and co-existence on a damaged planet. Making use of pedagogy, playfulness and imagination, the artists addressed our broken relationship to the earth and to all the non-human-people that we share it with. Focusing on the visible, invisible, the real and imaginary life forms populating our world, the project presented two newly commissioned art- works: The Swamp Observatory by Urbonas Studio, and Brakfesten/La Grande Bouffe, by Anne Duk Hee Jordan and Pauline Doutreluingne.
School classes were invited to the What We Don’t See workshop programme, led by artist and educator Jessica Lundeberg, to engage with the artworks and create art and animations themselves.
Projects and sketches from the New Perspectives Visborg urban development project by artists Juri Markkula and Ingela Ihrman will also be on display alongside the exhibition.
The artists use debarked elm trees to create a gigantic sculpture with several elements that mimic the pattern the bark beetles leave on the elm tree trunk. Hollowed out and filled with soil, the trees are transformed into “tables” with plants from the area growing from their carved bodies, creating a banquet for insects, beetles, birds and other organisms. Other logs are turned into water basins and insect hotels, surrounded by birdhouses and miniature huts for rabbits. Among them appear a joyful painting full of colors, an oversized birdhouse and a pair of gigantic listening horns resembling moose ears. We’re invited to come close and use them to sense the surroundings, listen to the sounds of the forest and experience the world from the other species’ perspective.
The installation becomes a playground and a meeting point for both young and old, human and more than human people. It inspires joy and playfulness while being at the same time an act of acknowledgement and of giving back to the earth, and to the lives that both, sustain it and are sustained by it.
The Swamp Observatory is the continuation of a proposal developed by Urbonas Studio as part of New Perspectives Visborg, an urban development project carried out in collaboration between PAAS, BAC and Region Gotland. Based on the plans for the development of storm-water ponds in northern Visborg, it draws attention to the importance of the lost wetlands of Gotland in a time of global climate change. The Swamp Observatory is an Augmented Reality experience available on mobile devices and online. The future reality of the Visborg Plain is enriched with imaginary, yet unknown species – or monsters as the artists call them – created together with students from Athene School. Through QR codes, visitors can activate the experience and follow the monsters as they interact with each other and guide visitors around the secrets of the swamp. The exhibition at Gotland’s art museum shows the development process of the artwork. The Swamp Observatory is a playful and educational tool for engaging with urban development processes and for imagining new and sustainable “social biotopes”.
Brakfesten/La Grande Bouffe by Anne Duk Hee Jordan and Pauline Doutreluingne is an artwork in two parts: a film and a living sculpture in the Södra Hällarnas nature reserve, where the elms are threatened with extinction. The sculpture, which mimics the pattern left by bark beetles on trees, has been in place since May and has been well visited over the summer. It is made from debarked elm wood that has been returned to its place of origin to slowly decay and provide a festive banquet for insects, beetles, birds and other organisms. It has become a kind of play and meeting place for young and old, humans and non-human life forms. It is these small and invisible inhabitants of the area that we meet and follow in their adventures as the main characters in the film premiering in the exhibition at Gotland Art Museum.
Part of the sculptural installation of Brakfesten in Södra Hällarna, will remain in place and decompose as time goes by.
Place: Sumpskogen. Trail from Södra Hällarna nature reserve main parking.
GPS Coordinates: 57.619691,18.271118 (Google maps)
The artists presented Brakfesten as part of the exhibition Out of the Sky, into the Earth at the Gotland Art Museum August 27th – September 11th 2022.
The GRASS Fellow programme is located at GRASS, Uppsala University Graduate School in Sustainability Studies at Campus Gotland. The programme offers artists the opportunity to come to Campus Gotland to work on their artistic projects. Campus Gotland is relatively small with 1300 students from a wide range of countries studying courses in the humanities, social sciences, engineering and medicine. The small scale makes activities visible, and the aim is for the artistic work to raise questions and engagement in the everyday lives of students and staff. Depending on the artists’ projects, the visiting fellow programme will also be developed in different locations, in collaboration with different stakeholders around Gotland.
GRASS FELLOW START 2021
The GRASS visiting fellow programme started in August 2021 when artists Nomeda and Gediminas Urbonas visited the Graduate School at the start of the new academic year and conducted a two-day workshop with the PhD students. Under the name Urbonas Studio they work on interdisciplinary research, and artistic creation and have been working on the wetland as a biological concept and environment for a number of years. During 2019-2021 they have collaborated with BAC, Region Gotland and Public Art Agency Sweden in the development of the new Visborg district with the art project The Swamp Observatory.
Two Years: The Dematerialisation of the Art Institution
By Lisa Rosendahl
The following is an attempt to outline a process of institutional re-articulation that took place at the Baltic Art Center (BAC) in Visby between 2008 and 2010. The text focuses on my 2008 decision, as the newly appointed director, to use the specific circumstances of the institution as a starting point for revisiting a set of questions that have been of central importance since the early twentieth century avant-garde: How is art production defined in relation to the production processes of society at large? How do we understand the structures and organising principles of the art field in relation to the ways in which work and value production are organised generally? Which ideological constructs lie behind regulatory frameworks – such as notions of authorship and ownership, the division of labour between artists, curators, institutions and audiences and the definitions of and the relationship between process and product – and how do we, as professionals within the field, confirm and perpetuate them through our daily work? Could leaving these frameworks behind generate possibilities for defining artistic labour and its relationship to the production processes of late capitalist society differently, unleashing a transformative potential? If so, how do we do this? What kinds of support structures are needed to foster such processes of redefinition and change?
BAC, a publicly funded art centre, located on the Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea, a couple of hours from the mainland, was founded in 1999 as a consequence of governmental interest in supporting cultural dialogue between Sweden and the Baltic states in the wake of the fall of the Iron Curtain. Housed in a redeveloped grain storage building in the harbour of Visby, BAC quickly developed from being a provincial kunsthalle with a Baltic focus into a site for international art production. In 2005, its founding director, Johan Pousette, and the current board started a Production-in-Residence (PIR) programme in response to what was perceived as an increasing need for emerging international art practices to receive greater economic and organisational support. PIR was also a way of reinventing the traditional model of the international artist’s residency, by placing the production, rather than the artist, in the position of being ‘in-residence’. In concrete terms, this meant that an artist would not be expected to stay at BAC for a long period of time, but might instead undertake several shorter visits to the island at different stages of research and production, at the same time maintaining a dialogue with the institution throughout the process of developing the work. In addition to the residency programme, BAC ran an exhibition space in which many of the new productions – such as works by Rosa Barba, Annika von Hausswolff and William Kentridge – were shown for the first time before they entered the global art circuit.
In 2007, things changed; the BAC board had to restructure the organisation and a downsizing became necessary as some of the temporary funding ran out and was not replaced with any permanent solution. A decision was made to abandon the ‘state-of- the-art’ exhibition hall and terminate its regular public programme. In the process, BAC also lost its purpose-built studios and half of its staff. However, the board wanted the focus of the organisation to remain on the production of new work and resolved to retain the Production-in-Residence initiative.
Taking over as director the following year, I chose to interpret the continued commitment of the board to artists’ production processes, coupled with its decision to give up an exhibition space in which any possible outcomes could be displayed, as potentially radical. For me, the liberation of production processes from the demand for conventional gallery display signalled the possibility of redefining the ways in which the term ‘production’ could be used in relation to art and called for a focus on processes rather than products. Furthermore, what those processes might be or where they would take place was up for discussion. The decision by the board to abandon the original physical spaces of the institution became my operational and curatorial starting point, providing the impetus to explore which other frameworks and conventions could be removed from the modus operandi of BAC and to what effect.
Without the pressures of running a public exhibition programme, BAC now had the chance of developing projects according to other rhythms. Without an exhibition hall, the relationship between BAC and the public not only could be but had to be reinvented beyond the traditional exhibition-spectator dichotomy. The lack of permanent studios meant that suitable workspaces would have to be found for each project, not the other way around. The same applied to staffing and, with only a small team of core employees remaining, specific expertise would have to be called in as and when each project demanded. In short, BAC had become a hyper flexible institution that aimed to transform itself in relation to every art practice with which it engaged. What set it apart from other art organisations working out of an office on a project basis – such as Artangel in London or Mobile Art Production and Mossutställningar in Stockholm – was that BAC primarily devoted itself to the artistic process, with the issue of creating something for public display remaining a possibility but not a core aim. For me, it was of prime importance that the resources of BAC would not simply be used to produce new works that would be exported to another context as soon as they were finished, to be exhibited elsewhere, but that they would offer support to artistic practices working to interrogate the established frameworks determining the field. This brought forth some key questions: If each practice or project was allowed to shape the support structure it needed, in dialogue with the institution, and to set the parameters for its own coming into being, and if there were no predetermined institutional requirements to fulfil – in terms of space, timeframe, money or result – but nonetheless sizeable support in the form of funding, dialogue and project management, would it generate a climate in which the established conventions of the art industry could be left behind in favour of other modes of working with and through art? Would it even be possible to leave behind the idea of art and the artistic process as production?
In 2009, I started a number of projects together with artists, curators and theorists, with the intention of exposing and interfering with the existing systems for artistic production and/or dissemination. These projects were run in parallel with the existing PIR programme and other newly started initiatives, such as the Collaborative Research Residency (developed together with Fabrikken in Copenhagen and Hordaland Kunstsenter in Bergen), as a way of investigating the existing conditions of the institution and the ways in which they could be rethought. The Secret Cinema (note 1), Destruction-in-Residence (note 2) and On the Conditions of Production (note 3) all engaged in different ways with the dissolution of individual authorship and the division of labour in the art world, as well as with exploring ways of renegotiating the concepts of process and product and their relationship to each other. Often using strategies of anonymity, withdrawal, secrecy, erasure or deferral, the projects addressed the questions at hand from within artistic and curatorial practice, attempting to start each process without articulating any desired outcomes, letting each work find its form along the way.
To summarise what those working processes generated would be to miss the point, as the aim had been to move away from the measurable and conclusive, the easily packaged and circulated. However, what did become clear was that BAC, as an institution without framework, engaging in production without predetermined protocols, created a strong sense of ambivalence. It was, of course, to be expected that professional identities, including my own, were destabilised by this approach. But, in its aim to break down the standardising structures of artistic production and their underlying politics, the experimental reorganisation of BAC walked a tricky path. This process exposed a fine line between diverting from and collapsing straight into the arms of post-industrial capitalism. BAC’s commitment to the continuous innovation of labour processes without easily definable ends fits squarely within the logic of our times: the speculative financial market as well as the sphere of prosumer social media, to name but two areas of contemporary life that long ago moved to a point at which an end product was no longer necessary, becoming superseded by the production of relations. But what kind of relations are they? The idea at BAC, that the relationship between artist and institution would be reshaped anew for each project, through dialogue and joint decision-making, had its problems. The flexible, non-specialised, always-ready-to-react- to-any-unpredictable-situation institution mirrored the precarious subjectivity of the artist as post-Fordist worker par excellence, often creating a feedback loop of uncertainty and instability. At the same time, the traditional power relations between artist and institution – manifested, for example, in the act of remuneration or the position of responsibility in the face of the law or the funding bodies – were still there. Even more difficult to dispel were the unspoken expectations, hiding within each of us who took part and the persistent narratives that formed our subjectivities.
The experimental re-articulation of BAC during these two years was a first step towards rethinking the relationship, in that specific situation, between institutional support and artistic process, which did not, in itself, bring forth any sustainable working models. With hindsight, it is easy to see that the process of unravelling all the stable ground of an institution – albeit in an attempt to inject new life into an already emaciated situation – would, in the short term be more unsettling and full of contradictions than generative. As can be learned from Lucy Lippard’s book, Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object – in which she summarises the development of Conceptual Art in the US between 1966 and 1972 – the attempted dissolution of the art object as a site of value production did not constitute an escape from the hegemonic order of value production itself. Yet, it opened up for new ways of understanding the challenge.
At a lecture in Stockholm in 2011, Zygmunt Baumann described our current times as a moment of interregnum, a historical passage in which the old systems are falling apart but new ones have yet to be conceptualised and enacted. For two years, between 2008 and 2010, BAC operated in a similar vein, undoing its own raison d’être and engaging in the task of unlearning. Although the implementation of new systems was most certainly deferred, the questions fuelling the changes were gradually refined to become: If the historical avant-gardes positioned themselves in relation to industrial society, how do we position ourselves in relation to the current, so called post-industrial, reality? How can we move beyond precarity, self-exploitation and the insecurity of endless flexibility without stagnating in the systems of the past? How do we shift from the necessarily backward-looking post– towards a more hopeful and anticipatory pre-?
How can we not only take control of the means of production and their organisation but also learn how to think beyond the concept of production itself? Can art be a means of finding those ways of being and working together? And, if so, what kinds of support structures will be needed to foster such processes of redefinition and change?
1. The Secret Cinema was a series of screenings and related discussions, in which the title, director and duration of the film would not be disclosed to anyone apart from those attending the event. Taking Peter Watkins’s notion of monoform as a starting point, the programme tried to create a framework in which the attention and engagement of those involved surpassed the attention economy, as well as the economy of copyright and distribution laws. The series was open to suggestions of films from anyone attending.
2. Destruction-in-Residence was a tool for looking at the concept of production from the point of view of its opposite. Artists and cultural producers were invited to engage with acts of destruction, removal and/or erasure – conceptually, structurally and physically – in relation to the context of BAC. The first intervention as part of the series consisted of the invited artist removing his/her name from all publicity connected with the project. The second part, Destroyed Word, involved Santiago Sierra’s physical act of destroying a concrete sculpture in public space.
3. On the Conditions of Production is a collective research project, run by Kajsa Dahlberg, Kim Einarsson, Mattin, Michele Masucci, Lisa Rosendahl and Fredrik Svensk, which investigates the conditions of various production situations in contemporary capitalism, as well as the condition of the art world as a whole. For further reference, see the collectively written text, A Living Body Performing Its Own Autopsy Within Contemporary Capitalism, pp.219–229 in this publication.
Published in Work, Work, Work: A Reader on Art and Labour published by Konstnärsnämnden/Iaspis and Sternberg Press in 2012.
The material will be compiled in a film essay by Azadeh Fatehrad, where audiences will encounter the migrant’s images, sounds and associations to home and their thoughts on the everyday practices of home making. Apart from being co-producers of a film, the interviewed migrants will also contribute to a publication and a conference. The study aims to provide basis for analytical research on some of the key issues around migration- and integration policy.
Azadeh Fatehrad explains how her work captures a feeling of inbetweenness, the duality of nationality creating displacement within each culture. “Home becomes the portable memory storage in phones and databases, this mobile home forms a feeling of belonging to somewhere. We’re attempting to trace the mobile elements that create the feeling of home or belonging that can give you the security that you belong, even though you are physically far from that version of home.”
The Site Residency (TSR)
by Lívia Páldi
Browsing through my archive, I came upon a short note describing the key issues I was confronted with when I took over BAC in November 2011. The inventory included recurring questions regarding the institution’s identity, profile and mission, its possible future as well as its premises, understaffing, invisibility in the local context, the diminishing regional support that went hand in hand with the closure of Stiftelsen Framtidens kultur and the increasingly populist shift in cultural politics.
Despite all the challenges between 2012 and 2015, BAC maintained its internationally acknowledged PIR production, prepared locally based sustainable research initiatives, provided space for collective critical and conceptual engagements and tested new forms of residency and production.
Among the experimental formats we launched, TSR, in 2013, in collaboration with and supported by the Goethe-Institute Sweden and Novosibirsk, and the Polish Institute Stockholm, became an extended exploration of the complex relationships between site and artistic production and set in motion various collaborative processes. Though imagined as a strictly non-production residency, the participating artists, Agnieszka Polska, Susanne Kriemann and Annika Eriksson, all made works/projects after or even during their residencies.
The preliminary brief, which I found in the potential projects’ folder back in late 2011, was written by former board member Sebastian Cichocki, who suggested a twist&play with relations (artist-curator/institution-writer/critic) and expectations and the suspension of often pressuring objectified output. Grounded in the theories and practices of withdrawal, the programme was also informed by various conceptual and land art practices in the 1960s and 1970s. The initial plan to parachute artists from metropolitan contexts to the island’s tamed remoteness – offering them two weeks at locations slightly off the beaten track with a set of playful ‘scripts’ to be performed – was softly and gradually deconstructed and revamped after the first edition. As was the way artists involved their ghostwriters who were to carry out the ‘task’ of production, acting as mediators translating the artists’ experience.
Soon after the invitation was finalised with Sebastian and curator, researcher and writer Galit Eilat, production manager Isaak Mozard started location scouting and the two of us travelled to several sites on the island to look for suitable places for solitary existence – a trip that also helped situate several subsequent artistic researches.
On the whole, TSR not only generated sustained shared thinking around creation/making and materiality but tied in with several conversations on the conditions of artistic labour and production, site-specificity, critical tourism and the theme of ‘remoteness’ just to mention a few.
Krzysztof Pyda designed the accompanying book so that all the materials intertwine, bringing the reader into the free-floating conversation that was both the base and the working method of TSR.
See: Tourists Like Us. Critical Tourism and Contemporary Art. (eds. Frederica Martini & Vytautas Michelkevius), ECAV École Cantonale d’Art du Valais in Sierre (Switzerland) and Nida Art Colony (NAC), 2013 or Interformat Symposium on Remoteness 2012, Nida Art Colony (NAC).
Melancholic Collective Action
By Maria Lind
A group of young people are gathered in a small white room. They stand close to one another, like a troop of marching soldiers or a group of protestors, pre-COVID-19. In the front row, some hold red flags rolled up on heavy poles; others just stand there. All of them wear simple undergarments, mostly covering their bodies, and they lean forward, sometimes resting on each other. Their physical presence is palpable.
Suddenly they start to move forward, slowly, and those in the front row bend down, as if bowing. They tread upon the lower hems of the flags. The same movements are repeated again and again. The camera follows their gradual advance, keeping steady focus on the collective body, interspersing overviews with close-ups of feet and faces. The image appears bleached out, as if there is too much light to absorb. It is silent, apart from the sound of bare feet and the flagpoles touching the floor. An air of hushed patience envelops the unit as it moves ahead, step by step.
Who are these people, and what are they doing? Their movements look both like a slow effort toward a goal, and an eternal preparation. But for what? Once they reach the wall in front of them, the video ends. We might look to the “arable land” in the title for a clue. The land is not only being stepped on but also trampled, flattened. Perhaps disregarded and made unusable? The beginning of sedentary human civilization, when we began to cultivate plants and domesticate animals, also marks the end of the Holocene—an epoch when the land, the earth, was dominated and abused, and millions of people with it, to the point that the geology and ecosystems changed, bringing us into the current era: the Anthropocene.
The procession of young people in the film struggles forward, making slow progress. Their efforts appear at once archaic and futuristic. Art history offers some iconographic references: for example, Ilya Repin’s Barge Haulers (1873), in which a group of destitutes drags a barge up the Volga River using shear physical power; and The Angelus (1857–1859), by Jean-François Millet. In the latter, two peasants, a man and a woman, pause while toiling on the land to recite the evening prayer, concluding the day’s work. In all of these, bodies perform labor, whether on arable land or not.
Then there are the many heroic Soviet monuments that depict soldiers marching ahead, and of course, the gigantic sculpture Worker and Kolkhoz Woman, from the 1937 Paris World’s Fair, forcefully striding toward the future. In comparison, To Trample Down An Arable Land is certainly not heroic. But it retains a sense of collective action—melancholic collective action, with all feet firmly on the ground.
The Lithuanian artists Augustas Serapinas was invited to research the museum collections and visited different kinds of hidden and forgotten spaces, in the museum storage and around Gotland’s house museums. What finally caught the artist’s interest was the demarcations between what classifies as heritage and requires special care from the museum staff and the objects and environments that exist outside the museum collections. The artist has visualised his thoughts in a sculpture built with traditional “standtune” fencing technique by the work team from the local Bunge museum association. The fence is a living heritage and might also have been used for defense purposes.
This ancient technique is now supporting a 4-meter-high sculpture that encircles the museum building in the courtyard of the Gotland Museum in Visby. Is it a defence or a sculpture? And which objects should be let into the museum collections? The latter is a constantly recurring issue for the Gotland Museum’s collection managers who decide on these complex issues brought forth by Augustas Serapina’s sculpture. Who has the power to decide on our common cultural heritage and what should be in the museums’ collections and exhibitions? Which objects should stay on one or the other side of the “fence” – border?
To collect material for the exploration of the human imitation of animal sounds the artists made field recordings with their three children. Through a collaboration with the sailing artistic research platform Imagining Godzilla, Lapelytė and Petraitis could spend time at sea recording seas birds and natural sounds at sea. This research will contribute towards making new works in the exhibition Here Hear Hare Hair that premiers at SPACE Ilford Gallery, London and in the Gherdeina Biennale in May 2022.
Lapelytė and Petraitis also researched natural acoustics and church bells as well as the Klockrent project from 2013, when 100 churches all over Gotland united in a joint composition for bells. They also explored the coast and stones of the shores of Gotland and built a mock-up version of a possible sound wall in preparation for a sound based public art project with church bells.
Lina Lapelytė and Mantas Petraitis:
“From one side, this work delves into the architectural acoustics of the city by designing a location-based sound reflector that focuses on city bells and thus allows an immersive instrument-like experience of the surroundings. On the other, it aims to transcend from the references embedded in the bell by juxtaposing it with a song. As the city bells accompany the live performance, a momentary play with materiality, space, and rituals for gathering and listening is created. This work aims to renew the perspective of city bell sounds by bringing their lightness and intimacy.”
As an artist, Fiona Tan has explored an elastic intermediate position between still and moving image, where time plays a decisive role in the shaping of the image that emerges before the viewer’s eyes. For BAC, the artist proposed that she would create filmed portraits of a group of identical twins on Gotland, during the years 2006-2011. The ad “BAC IS LOOKING FOR TWINS” was placed in the local dailies Gotlands Tidningar and Gotlands Allehanda in 2007. In the BAC project archive, a number of documents and memos trace the search for twins across the island, and the lists of twins that were interested in participating in the project includes individuals born between 1937 and 1997.
One point of entry for the artist was her fascination with twins and at the same time her frustration with how they are generally portrayed – almost always together in the same picture. During the five years that the project took place, Fiona Tan returned to Gotland every summer and filmed the twins’ portraits, sitting or standing, still and quiet, in their home environments, both separately and together, in the same place and with the same camera positions. In the completed work Diptych, the audience can in a few minutes experience how a child, a teenager or an older person grows, changes and ages at the same time as the similarities between the siblings, the years and the environments become more and more apparent. As the artist herself puts it: “A lot takes place in an image where nothing apparently happens”. (kunstkritikk.com)
Diptych is shown as a film installation divided into two rooms, where the twin siblings’ portraits are shown in parallel in different rooms. Each room has a projection with two channels – a film diptych that shows double images of the same twin where the spectators can experience the paradoxical feeling of sameness and transformation in the bodies of the twins. Diptych is in the collection of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the work has been shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo (2015) and at the Museum für Moderne Kunst in Frankfurt (2017). To date, Diptych has never been shown on Gotland.
Read more here: fionatan.nl
In addition to the ongoing activities during the year, BAC prioritized a large and site-specific exhibition production each year. The summer exhibitions received attention in the national media, and BAC was quickly mentioned as one of the leading art spaces in the country. It became clear that BAC could be a production site that, through its special conditions, had the ability to support artistic innovation and contribute to new pioneering works in the international art world. Each institution needs to find its specific role, and in a somewhat backwards way, the peripheral location was a success factor, combined with strong international networks and a dedicated staff.
Collaborations with artists such as Alfredo Jaar, Jan Håfström, Jessica Stockholder and William Kentridge showed that this small institution had the energy and ability to engage in long processes that led to new works of great importance. In some cases, these became key works that opened up new paths and expressions in the artists’ work. William Kentridge renewed himself by introducing live action into his animated films. The invitation was formulated as an opportunity to experiment without demands for a result, and William described his process as one of his most pleasurable and playful. The nine new films: Seven fragments for George Meliés, Day for Night and Journey to the Moon became so innovative that his legendary gallerist Marianne Goodman travelled from New York to Visby to see the exhibition.
Two years after the art centre opened, BAC was awarded the Swedish governments commission for contemporary art 2003-2005. What BAC carried out within the framework of the extra funding and the mandate that the national assignment entailed was primarily to focus on the artistic process in a program we called PIR – Production in Residence. The PIR artists were nominated by Lynne Cooke at the Dia Center for the Arts in New York, Friedrich Meschede at DAAD in Berlin and Åsa Nacking at Lund Art Gallery.
PIR should really stand for process in residence, because it was the process that was at the centre, not the result. BAC offered the invited artist as much artistic freedom as possible, an adaptable time frame of at least one-year, full support regarding the artist’s ideas and wishes, as well as funding through own funds, sponsorship, and collaborations. The intention was to offer an alternative to how new works are usually created in connection with public commissions or traditional exhibitions, where both place, time frame and budget are predetermined and limited to the possibilities of the institution, not the artist’s or project’s needs.
We wanted to find a way to enable time-consuming processes at the same time as many artists today find it difficult to be in residence for a longer period of time. The solution was that it is the process / production that is in residence for at least one year, while the artist comes and goes depending on their needs. After the first visit, a dialogue started between the artist and the institution, which led to a defined proposal. The artists continued their work at a distance, while BAC had the opportunity to apply for permits, collaborations, sponsorships and grants to finance and produce the project. In addition to funding and practical assistance, BAC developed another resource, and it was genuine commitment and sensitivity to the artistic process – and patience! Initially, the artist was encouraged to think completely freely, and the projects could be developed over time and based on artistic, practical and financial conditions.
A process that is genuinely open-ended can lead to something that cannot be predicted, and therein lies its greatness. Sometimes it leads to fantastic new works, in some cases it doesn’t lead to any concrete result, at least not in the near future. Although it was always possible to show the process afterwards, there were never any requirements to deliver a result. We often talked about the importance of allowing oneself to fail, as a gateway to the open process. But most of the artists BAC collaborated with have, perhaps precisely because of this produced remarkable works, which have since been shown in a number of contexts around the world.
The art critic Milou Allerholm wrote in 2007: “What I am impressed by is how, in a low-key and very concrete way, one tries to find measures that can break some of the art world’s most habitual rhythms and conventions, conventions that to a high degree control the conditions for an artist’s production. … The reality for artists, just like for others, is about delivering and performing. Counteracting this stress – whether it is driven by money or prestige – is an ideological and political stance worthy of respect”.
Juri Markkula presents how the identity of the future district Visborg can be strengthened and developed in the planned city park Donners hage in his design concept ANNO MMXX. In the digital world, The Swamp Observatory, Urbonas Studio highlights the role of art for climate and sustainability issues through pedagogy and citizens’ participation in the virtual design of the area around the planned stormwater ponds in Visborg. Ingela Ihrman shows how both officials and citizens can be included in an artistic adaptation of the urban planning process in her project Marching on Visborg – which is also a proposal for a mobile cultural element in the new city district.
For the most part art enters into the urban development process when decisions about investments have been made and when the actual planning phase is over. But from the visual artist’s education and role comes the ability to offer a deep and critical analysis of the design of public space. Artistic investigations can therefore be used to draw attention to values that have not been included and to process and deepen the focus on the design issues. The art project has provided the opportunity to let artistic practice create new perspectives and identify values that can contribute to a municipal urban development and planning process. The collaboration between artists, planners, architects and landscape architects has been given space early on in the design process.
Christian Hegardt, City Architect, Region Gotland:
– The collaboration with the artists in the early stages of urban planning has been instructive for us urban planners. Involving the artistic competence early on has also made it easier to identify important values on the site. We believe that the artistic investigations, in one form or another, will further contribute to the realization of the city district, and it will be exciting to see if we can also apply a similar work model in future projects.
The project was finished in 2020 and a documentation of the artistic investigations has been completed.
Throughout the project, the artist has conducted conversations with the Design group for Visborg and taken part in material, plans and thoughts. In parallel, her own process has generated images, objects, sounds, text and movements that connect parts of the urban development project with history, man’s approach to nature and specific plants and animals. The process within her artistic study has aimed at a work in the form of an imaginary procession entitled Marching on Visborg. As part of the project, the artist has carried out a test in City Hall in Visborg with a couple of collaborators who tried out marching in costume, blew notes in bottles and sang the specially composed choral song Gotland’s Water and Sewage.
“I wanted to create a project based on urban planning processes, fatigue and how the living can be described as an abstract movement – an inner flowing. Through basic choreography (walking on foot), costume / sculpture and voice / sound, I wanted to slowly build up a possible work – a quiet marching show that borrows its format (but not content) from traditional Swedish Lucia processions. My procession consists of loose units / individuals who have come together. You can compare with demonstrations, shoals of fish, parades, marches and military exercises. The procession creates an opportunity to meet under a pretext. But there are also risks in following – walking in old ruts, following manuals, dead fish swim with the current.”
The characters in the procession: black water/grey water, the fig and the oil bird can all be said to have a connection to underground or bodily fluids. On Visborg, there is water as in “water shortage” and “separated waste-water pipes”. The body’s black and yellow fluids are historical ways of referring to what we today call mental illness, fatigue and anxiety. The oil bird’s oil, which humans extract and use for oil lamps, bring to mind both human violence and the idea of the soul as a light. The fig character who can split says something about the experience of loss or what it means to make an incision through a (house) body to imagine an inner room.
The artist’s ambition with the project Marching on Visborg has been to create an art that is itinerant and that reaches out to people. These aims contain an amount of criticism against the lack of planning of cultural infrastructure on Visborg, but also a constructive solution to the problem.
I wanted to make art that is not confined to a limited area, as is often the case in public art commissions, but keeps in motion, just like life, art and urban planning. The procession seeks out and chooses its own place.
The project has offered a platform for joint reflection for the artist and staff working with the urban development, most often carried out in “downpipes”. The challenge of this project proposal has been to get the staff of Region Gotland and others to enter into a dialogue with the artist instead of being served a design solution. The question of how this artistic study can be implemented in the coming phases of the urban development project and ultimately contribute to the planned district is an open question and largely up to the participants. Marching on Visborg can, for example, be developed and scaled up in dialogue with schoolchildren, workplaces, choirs and orchestras and performed in public in smaller contexts or perhaps as a larger public performance.
Ingela Ihrman captures and puts aspects of urban planning at the forefront – from the technical to the existential, thus giving the new district and its development more complexity and greater depth.
The design concept ANNO MMXX has consisted of four parts that mark places where you will be able to pass through the park on foot and by bike. But also places where the artist has seen that it would be nice with an entry/exit to draw attention to local qualities in Donner’s hage or connect to an area adjacent to the park.
Juri Markkula’s idea to work with entrances comes from the line of sight that connects the main entrance to Region Gotland’s office, located in one of the former regimental area’s buildings in Visborg, with the large pine grove in Donner’s hage. The first part of the design concept is imagined by the artist as a brick portal in the form of a fragment or a ruin that reflects the regimental architecture in design language, scale and location. The military brick architecture is a physical remnant and a memory from the area’s previous identity as the armored regiment P18 and is part of Visborg’s cultural heritage. The portal is intended as an aged replica of the entrance to Region Gotland’s head office and is located opposite its gate on the other side of the street. There, it forms the entrance to Donner’s hage and a visual connection between the old regimental area and the new residential area’s common park. The ruin as a sculpture refers to several sources of inspiration in art history such as Per Kirkeby’s brick sculptures, Caspar David Friedrich’s ruin romantic painting and Gotland’s medieval architecture.
In the north-western part of Donner’s hage, an area is proposed to host grazing sheep to maintain the meadow land. This part of the park is located in close proximity to the so-called “Pippi plot” with its planned playground and preschool. Here, the entrance is highlighted in a more low-key way with a design that is woven into an existing traditional Gotlandic fence, the so-called bandtun. The design consists of a cast of the fence’s juniper wood in bronze and is the artist’s tribute to a craft tradition thousands of years old. The entrance itself adapts to the grazing animals and could be designed as a cast bronze staircase over the fence or a section of the actual fence in cast bronze intertwined with the sturgeons and straps in juniper wood and beams of spruce.
At the northern entrance to Donner’s hage, near the planned, diagonally running cycle and pedestrian path, grows an alder classified as a giant tree. The alder is rarely more than 120 years old, but due to its size it’s considered particularly worthy of protection when its immediate environment is being changed. The alder has a protection zone of 15 m in diameter and therefore the walking and cycling path makes a detour around the tree to make room for and save its roots. The design here consists of a copy of the lower 90-100cm of the alder trunk and part of the ground, a small slope on which the tree stands. The sculpture’s design in cast concrete gives the bark’s deep relief and the trunk’s organic shape a monumental materiality. This pair of tree trunks, one of which is changeable and perishable and the other frozen in time, forms the third portal in the design proposal.
At Donners hage’s northeast entrance, the design is shaped like a portico and straddles the planned bicycle and pedestrian path that runs from the pedestrian bicycle bridge at the ferry route through Donners Hagen and lands at Kung Oscars Road near the square by the planned student housing. The sculpture consists of a structure of PVC tubes that creates a visually striking landmark adjacent the park. At the same time, a visual connection is created to the pine trees that stand tall columns, giving this part of the park its character.
The tubes are lined with photographic image textures generated with 3d technology from the surroundings in and around Donners hage. These photographic surfaces form a camouflage created specifically by and for Visborg and associate to the site’s military past. The design is also inspired by the obstacle course used for the soldiers’ physical training in the vicinity. The sculpture can also be used as a plant support and be covered with vegetation, just like a pergola.
Estonian Flo Kasearu is the first artist in the AIR_BALTIC residency programme at BAC and began her project with a research visit to Gotland in February 2019.
“What are the actual feelings of the young house owner, tortured to insomnia by the concerns and responsibilities she has towards her ward? What dreadful incidents may happen with a corner shop? Yet how does a museum ensure the preservation of works when anything could happen – from a flood to a new minister? How strong and secure must a museum be for its director to sleep soundly through the night?
Since 2013 I have mapped and visualised a bunch of fears and nightmare scenarios that might torment a museum director, a house owner, a shelter for women or a little corner shop. The drawings show different possible future scenarios for these. True, some fears are less likely to come to fruition than others. One of the main causes of fear is certainly lack of knowledge about the future and the resulting unease. Lack of knowledge gives birth to speculations and the imagining of all kinds of possible events. The question is how far to let one’s paranoias soar – should one stop at the fear of the future shaped by politicians, parties and officials with the predicted lifespan of four years or go all the way out to force majeure that has no other antidote but evacuation… Mapping the Fears on paper is like art therapy: if you deal with your fears and share them with others they will most likely seem less frightening…”
One of the participating artists is the Turkish-Kurdish artist Fikret Atay, asylum artist in Örebro Sweden up until august 2019, where he now lives permanently. During 2018, when Fikret Atay was a residency artist at BAC, he recorded the short film The Flood together with a group of immigrants in northern Gotland. The film revolves around experiences of escape and exile and will be shown during the evening.
Also participating is Barys Piatrovich, a Belarusian prose writer and chairman of the Belarusian Writers’ Union, who will be in conversation with Lena Pasternak from the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators, together with current writers at the residence.
Niklas Westergren, Social Science teacher at Wisbygymnasiet, will talk about the BAC school workshop The Excursion, which will take place on November 7-12 in collaboration with the Bergman Center on Gotland. In the project, Fikret Atay amongst others, together with 160 school children in fifth grade and pupils from Visby Upper Secondary School participate in a full-day excursion to Fårö, with various workshops that explore issues of democracy, freedom of expression and community engagement.
The workshop programme for schoolchildren is inspired by the art of Kurdish artist Fikret Atay. As part of a BAC residency in 2018, he produced the short film The Flood with support from the Swedish Arts Council, Film Gotland and Örebro Konsthall. The film revolves around the experience of escape and exile and was recorded on the island of Asunden in northern Gotland together with a group of immigrants.
With the aim to mediate the important issues raised by contemporary art, BAC applied for a project grant for Integration and Inclusion from Region Gotland, in order to conduct a number of workshops where The Flood will be shown to schoolchildren in grade 5. Through a collaboration with the educator Niklas Westergren, teacher of social science at Wisbygymnasiet, a workshop program was created, which deals with refuge, exile, artistic freedom, democracy, civic courage and the reception of refugees on Gotland from a historical perspective. The program also connects to the Swedish national school system curriculum and educational objectives of the fundamental democratic values on which Swedish society is based.
Through the project Niklas Westergren wants to ask the schoolteachers of the participating classes questions like “How do we teach our schoolchildren to be active citizens? Is it possible to teach empathy and commitment?” In his opinion one of the most important issues of school today is getting young people to believe in the future and their ability to change it.
Through collaboration with Bergman Center, the project was developed into a full-day excursion to Fårö where the classes will be guided through different experiences: film screenings, new meetings, self-reflection and discussions on the themes of the project. Through the School of the Arts network for distributing culture to Gotland schools, 8 classes with a total of about 165 schoolchildren were able to sign up to participate in the Excursion, during four days in November.
Through the support of Wisbygymnasiet and the Swedish Church in northern Gotland, the children will be offered free bus rides. Niklas Westergren has also involved pupils from Visby Upper Secondary School programme of Education as teacher assistants, who will guide the schoolchildren and activate them during the bus trip to Fårö.
Fikret Atay participates in the workshop programme and will show The Flood and earlier film works that in various ways has affected his possibility to work freely in Turkey as an artist. The schoolchildren are introduced to the concept of “asylum artists” and will discuss issues related to freedom of speech. They will also have the opportunity to participate in a drawing workshop with Fikret Atay.
On the way to the Bergman Center, the bus stops at Fårö church where the schoolchildren meet Kerstin Blomberg, active in the refugee network “Together in the North”. Here the schoolchildren will learn more about the refugees who have come across the sea to Fårö through history. The Swedish Sea Rescue Society in Fårösund has also been involved, so that the children will meet people in local associations with experience of working voluntarily with important functions in society.
Evening on the topic of freedom of expression
In collaboration with the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators in Visby, a public evening event on the topic of freedom of expression is planned for November 12. During the evening, we will screen Fikret Atay’s The Flood and Niklas Westergren will talk about the school workshop. Resident writers from the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators will also participate.
9:30 Åsa Sonjasdotter presents Peace With the Earth
Åsa Sonjasdotter will make a presentation of the Peace With the Earth project in the exhibition at the Gotland Art Museum. During her talk she will discuss issues of narrative and form in relation to her research.
10:30 Presentation of the collaborating organisations:
Representatives from BAC, the Museum of Gotland and the Museum of Östergötland introduce their organisations and their collaboration within The Art of Heritage Project.
11:00 Mick Wilson, artist, educator, and currently Professor of Art at the University of Gothenburg.
Research by artists in/with/through institutions.
This presentation will consider the development of research cultures within arts academies and wider art systems. It will try to identify some of the fault-lines in current practices and debates. The presentation will look at some possible tensions between artistic exceptionalism and public address, and between self-interestedness and disinterestedness in the professional retrenchment of aesthetic and artistic boundaries.
11:45 LUNCH BREAK
12:45 Per Nilsson, researcher and archaeologist, Museum of Östergötland
Archaeology? Interaction & Fraction in Theory and Practice
Archaeologists and artists have a long history of collaboration. In recent years research projects have been performed both at, and as, excavations and in museums. But how can we explore the magic that happens when something from the past is being uncovered? Could an object-oriented research process be a way of revealing and mediating sensory aspects of museum objects?
13:30 Johan Tirén, artist based in Stockholm
From Artistic Excavation to Permanent Artwork
The artist Johan Tirén will talk about his and Anna Högberg’s work in Gamlegården, a million programme area in Kristianstad where they, through the Art Is Happening scheme, have been working off and on since 2016. It’s about the interplay between the visible and the invisible, how discussions about the image of Gamlegården, the identity of the place, high and low, value and values, limits and limiting, finally ended up in two permanent art works.
14:45 Melanie Klein, PhD History of Art, curator the Museum of Östergötland
Perspectives and speculations – examples of artistic research and its meaning for the museum.
Melanie Klein will talk about the inclusion of different perspectives on objects and artworks. She will also include examples from other museums in Europe and discuss the relevance of artistic research in the Museum of Östergötland.
15:30 Finishing discussion in Swedish
A continuous, linear movement by bike and boat will pause on the island – the point of return. The “residence” is shifted into motion and the production of a material art work is dissolved into a performative, low impact voyage.
Ulrika Knutson talks about the pamphlet Fred med jorden (Peace with the earth) co-written in 1940 by farmer Elisabeth Tamm and author Elin Wägner, that has given the current exhibition at the Gotland Art Museum its name.
“Tamm and Wägner were way ahead of their time in their views on the environment, ecological agriculture and sustainable consumption. Thoughts that were developed further by Elin Wägner in her book Väckarklocka in 1941 (The Alarm Clock). The parallels with our times are both frightening and inspiring.”
Åsa Sonjasdotter, the first artist of the artistic research residency The Art of Heritage, has studied the ancient remnants and recalled knowledge and practices on Gotland relating to three relict crops. Emmer wheat has been cultivated on Gotland for the past six thousand years. The “Käiar” potato came to Gotland two hundred years ago in an era of industrial progress and land privatization. The “Bungerova” (Bunge turnip) is a newly bred turnip that emulates ancient, extinct crops and obsolete skills. The artist highlights the way this living cultural heritage –the result of thousands of years of dialogue between humans and plant life in terms of shape, colour and taste – has as much to with nature as culture.
The stories of these cultivated plants, covering a period from the Bronze Age to the present day, are presented in an exhibition at the Gotland Art Museum. Also included are potential, future cultivation methods presented in a compostable installation by Åsa Sonjasdotter.
The title Peace With the Earth refers to a call written by Elisabeth Tamm, farmer and member of the Swedish parliament and the Swedish author Elin Wägner in 1940. Their proposal of realistic and sustainable solutions for how humankind can coexist with earth has been a starting point for the research of Åsa Sonjasdotter. In the Peace with the Earth project the artist wishes to convey and respond to the call of Tamm and Wägner through the exhibition, the cultivation of the researched crops in the garden of the nineteenth century farmstead at the Bunge Museum and and in the Region of Gotland’s wheelbarrows in Visby, and a programme of talks and events.
The Gotland Art Museum presents, in collaboration with the Baltic Art Center and International Art Space, the exhibition Lithic Choreographies by artist Sam Smith. The exhibition centres on a new experimental documentary, filmed on Gotland, which visualises a diverse set of relationships that exist between the island and its inhabitants.
The title of the film, which is shared with the exhibition, alludes to the creation of Gotland in the earth’s Silurian Period, and its subsequent slow movement from the equator to its current position in the Baltic Sea. Past, present and future timescales interact via documentary footage and animation as the film examines the island’s geological layers through facts, speculative sciences and fiction. By focussing the camera lens on the landmass’ stony beaches, concrete industry and lime stone quarries, the film charts cycles of stone in economic, cultural and agrarian contexts. The relationship between humans and nature is addressed as well as current discussions regarding the use of the earth’s resources.
The film is constructed from material recorded by Sam Smith while in residence at the Baltic Art Center in Visby. During two periods in 2017 and 2018 the artist travelled around Gotland meeting key people and specialists to learn about the island’s local communities. The artist filmed scenes at Brucebo Artist House, Suderbyn Permaculture Ecovillage, Uppsala University Campus Gotland, the Museum of Gotland collection and the concrete manufacturer Cementa, as well as many outdoor locations. The artist worked without a script, as a form of participant observer, choosing to follow a number of people in their daily work as they acted without direction
The exhibition continues outside the central film, by installing objects taken from the film in the exhibition space, alongside new photographic, text and videoworks. The presentation plays with what could be considered real or fictional, true or false, historical facts or artistic expression. For Smith’s world, these categories and the hierarchies between them are blurred, instead a combination of them are proposed as a possible strategy for survival.
The Nearest Point to the Free World, 1989 (2018, 32 min) is a visual essay by Swedish artist Ingela Johansson on the so-called Gotland Communiqué – a document, signed by Lithuanians from all over the world on Gotland, in August 1989. Ingela Johansson has revisited an almost forgotten historic event – the “Gotland study week”, which took place in Katthammarsvik, Gotland. It happened just ten days before “The Baltic Way”, a political demonstration in which a human chain was formed across the Baltic countries.
Before the end of the Iron Curtain, the island of Gotland was the closest Western territory to the occupied Baltic States. On the island’s east coast, on the Katthamra estate, a group of dissident representatives and exiled Lithuanians from all over the world met in secret over the course of a week to try to come to an agreement on the path towards independence. Johansson’s film essay, The Nearest Point to the Free World, 1989 reveals, in a non-linear way, what was at stake during that week. Material she has filmed is weaved together with original tapes from the meeting, forming a body in which old footage is juxtaposed with the new, and layers of time are overlapped.
Johansson’s particular interest during her research on the independence movement has been the contributions of cultural workers and intellectuals – and especially, of actors from the Youth Theatre in Vilnius – to the Gotland meeting. The exiled Lithuanian artist Eugenius Budrys was one of the organizers of the study week, together with his closest friend, the architect and freedom fighter Jonas Pajauijs.
Through project funding from Region of Gotland, the The Flood was screened on Gotland during 2019 as part of Grand Salam på Almedalsbiblioteket in collaboration with the Gotland art commissioner, The School workshop: The Excursion in collaboration with Bergman Center and an event on the topic of artistic freedom in collaboration with the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators.
Building on models of collective living and engagement, Lockhart and BAC is hosting a three-week summer residency for six girls on a farm on northern Gotland August 6-26th, 2018. During this time, Lockhart and her team will be living together with the young women, forming a collective household where they are creating a community based on trust and respect in the shared duties, joys, and responsibilities of creating a home and new collaborative works of art in the form of film, photos and textile.
Once they age out of the Youth Sociotherapy Centre, the girls are separated from friends with whom they spent most of their young lives. At the residency on Gotland the girls are focussing on working towards their own imagined futures. They are participating in a program of workshops that will teach them skills they will need to navigate adult life: cooking, organizing a home and developing their speaking and writing – also in English. Activities include workshops with local artists, architects, and designers. The girls are working with architect Jenny Lundahl, textile designer Gunila Axén, potter Eva-Marie Kothe, as well as choreographer Camilla Båge, to learn how to create scale models for collective living, mathematics furniture restoring, pottery and movement.
At group dinners hosted by the collective, visiting lecturers like the architect Kerstin Kärnekull and artist Matts Leiderstam are presenting informal talks centered on Sweden’s unique history of alternative living. The young women have taken a short course with the astronomer Gunnar Welin to gain new tools to observe and absorb the landscape and sky in a new environment. Lena Pasternak, director Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators, organized a discussion on the daily life of a writer and poetry reading with the polish resident writers Krystyna Dąbrowska and Pawel Śpiewak.
The exhibition shows the Baltic born artists – Latvian painter Laris Strunke and Estonian painter Enno Hallek – who fled to Sweden in small boats during the war. Both of them have received art education in Sweden and have become acclaimed artists here.
LCCA, in collaboration with Baltic Art Centre have commissioned new contemporary artworks by Latvian artist Inga Meldere and Finnish artist Mikko Hintz, who, living abroad from their countries of origin, have addressed and interpreted the theme of the migration and historical context in Gotland. In addition, photos of the reception of the Baltic refugees on Gotland from the archive of local photographer David Holmert, will be shown.
The exhibition is a part of a larger research and exhibition project that explores Baltic émigré and exile artists in a broader context of art processes, migration and globalization of the 20th century carried out by the LCCA on the occasion of the celebration of the Latvia’s centenary. The project consists of four satellite exhibitions in Paris, New York, Gotland and Berlin, with the central exhibition Portable Landscapes, held at the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga during the period 2017-2019.
“If we take a longer look back, people’s migrations caused by wars or political and economic changes have taken place ceaselessly. Exile, diaspora and migration are characteristic elements of global culture and their manifestations have not only determined changes in the world’s map but also contributed to the basis for the development of various trends in art and culture, promoting the blending and overlapping of cultures and the birth of new ideas and movements,” believe the curators of the exhibition Solvita Krese and Diāna Popova.
The artist Henrik Andersson about Repetition:
“The question of the origins of music is as topical in today’s Visby as it was in Greece during antiquity 2500 years ago. That musical harmony could be mathematically explained was something that made people think that music was something that followed the laws of physics rather than originated from within culture.”
Mats Hermansson, Dean of Visby Cathedral:
“Visby Cathedral, Saint Maria, has been at the centre of Visby since 1225 and has always provided a runway for things international, different and foreign. Everybody’s welcome – regardless of the purpose of the visit. The church has always manifested Everybody’s equal worth. This has been the case from its origins and this is still the case all over the world. This is the heritage of the Church: The God of our lives makes way through all the moral rubble, through to each one of us and says: You are allowed to be who you are – don’t be afraid! Saint Maria is more related to other holy rooms over the world than to other buildings in Visby. We humans have given these holy rooms beautiful names like: Synagogue, Pagoda, Temple and Mosque…”
About Konstfrämjandet – People’s Movements for Art Promotion:
The People’s Movements for Art Promotion collaborates with its member associations and other art promoters so that art can be present in all parts of society. Artistic thinking is our common ability for innovation and we see art as a way of thinking ABOUT the world. When Henriks Andersson uses our common history of music as a sounding board, the work “Repetition” reminds us how humanity thinks and develops together.
Involving a wide range of Latvian and international art institutions, researchers, curators and artists, LCCA has developed a project, launched in 2017 and lasting till 2019, that consists of four satellite exhibitions in Paris, New York, Gotland and Berlin, with the central exhibition at the National Museum of Art in Riga.
The exhibition Portable Landscapes is dedicated to the centennial of the Republic of Latvia, at the Latvian National Museum of Art. It follows yarns, which, through various corners of the world, take us to the stories of several creative, often relatively unknown Latvian émigré and exile personalities and informal groups, placing them in a broader context of art events, migration and globalization and revealing them as a polyphonic landscape.
In addition to historical stories, which will be revealed with the help of archives, works of art and artefacts, the exhibition has welcomed contemporary Latvian artists who live and work abroad, as well as artists who have addressed the theme of migration or, with their interpretations, are adding to some of the narratives developed in it.
The artist travelled around the island of Gotland to meet with key people and specialists like Tom Mels, Associate Professor, Department of Social and Economic Geography Uppsala University, Dr. Gustaf Svedjemo, lecturer at the department of Archaeology and Ancient History Uppsala University and local fossile expert Sara Eliason at the Gotland Museum. One year Sam Smith returned to shoot a film at locations like Brucebo, Suderbys Ekoby, Uppsala University Campus Gotland, the archive of the Museum of Gotland and the Cementa lime stone quarry. The work resulted in the experimental documentary Lithic Choreographies, that mixes historical facts with speculative fiction to chronicle different chapters embedded to the island’s geological strata.
Scanning the landscape characterised by paleo-sea-stacks, fossil coastlines, concrete production plants and limestone quarries, the film focuses a lens on minerals circulated in economic, cultural and agricultural contexts. Working with locals to ground the film’s investigations within the myriad communities of Gotland, Sam Smith seeks to re-imagine our modes of engagement with and contributions to ecological assemblages.
Sam Smith is a video installation and performance artist born in Sydney, Australia (1980), currently living and working in the UK. By treating built forms as active things, Smith gives resonance to the histories within their material structures. The locations of past films and 20th century Modernist residences become vibrant entities, capable of reorganising matter, facilitating life and playing a crucial part in their own narrative.
Åsa Sonjasdotter – about the process of research
Through the invitation to The Art of Heritage – an Artistic Research Residency at the Museum of Gotland, I have been able to dig deep into archives of various kinds. I have learned from the living memory of cultivated plants and soils, as well as from the objects stored in museums and libraries. The title for the presentation of the research refers to a pamphlet written in 1940 by the farmer and member of the Swedish parliament Elisabeth Tamm (1880-1958) and the author and member of the Swedish Academy Elin Wägner (1882-1949). The call was based on “…a long experience of both new and old farming methods and their effect on the Earth, the animals and the people.” Their conclusion was as profound as it was challenging: “We have to make peace with the Earth, not on the Earth.” It will not be possible to resolve issues of peace, health and education unless people are willing to revaluate their relationship to the Earth. Tamm and Wägners proposal for realistic and sustainable solutions for how the humans can live in a co-nurturing relation with the Earth has been a starting point for the research, carried out in response to their call.
Throughout the research process I have traced overlooked details in history that can help bring nuances to images and narratives of human and more-than-human life. Cultural narratives permeate and shape the structures and functions of society as much as the other way around. By shifting focus from an anthropocentric to a multispecies perspective, overlooked dimensions and stories might appear. The Art of Heritage Residency on Gotland made possible a thorough enquiry of the nurturing environments that specific plants have provided for humans. Our dependence on these plants has made them central as cultural carriers throughout time and space. An example: the earliest traces of cultivation found on Gotland, dating 4000-3000 BC, are remains of wheat grains that were domesticated in the Middle East about 12000-10000 years ago. Wheat is still one of the more important crops cultivated on Gotland.
As a way to share and circulate the result of the research, the studied crops will be made available for distribution and further cultivation in gardens and plots. With the great help from knowledgeable experts we have been able to propagate seeds, grains and tubers from three cultivars that are unique to Gotland. The Gutekorn association is growing a field of pre-historic emmer wheat at the Bunge Museum. After harvest in September, ears and grains will be available in portions suitable for small-scale cultivation in gardens and plots. Helene Wahlström and Stefan Haase have for more than 40 years selected robust lines of potato varieties, which were introduced to Gotland at the time of industrialization some hundred years ago. They have generously shared tubers of the varieties Käiar, Luntmann, Polackar, Amaila, Rosar and Amrikan, which now are being cultivated at the Bunge Museum. Seeds of the Bunge Turnip, a new variety bred by Åke Broberg in memory of a beloved, however extinct local turnip variety, will be available at the museum around mid-July this year (2019). By propagating and spreading the material to interested gardeners the plants and their stories can stay alive also in the future, or in a time that the historian Donna Haraway calls “‘the thick, fibrous, and lumpy “now”, which is ancient and not’.
The artistic residency at the Gotland Museum will receive Swedish and international artists with a keen interest in heritage, historic cultural environments and historiography to explore, research and visualize heritage anew from an artistic point of view. We would also like to take advantage of the non-profit organisations of Gotland’s great interest in heritage to create an interdisciplinary platform for art and heritage, grounded in the local community.
In this context, artistic research means that the invited artists will use their individual artistic practices, as well as current debates in the field of contemporary art and similar disciplines to explore and contextualize the collections and the historic buildings in the museum collection.
The collections of the Gotland Museum contain approximately 500 000 objects which give an incredible depth to the project. The artists will be given access to the specialists of the museum, collections and the historic environments connected to these. The artistic research can be made accessible in different ways: through public events, exhibitions or publications depending on the form of the research.
By letting contemporary art meet the regional heritage, the artistic residency will contribute to new and innovative ways of seeing cultural heritage. The encounter between art and heritage means that heritage isn’t just a part of the past but also something that can be used to understand, influence and to interact with our present day.
Duskdust is an artist book and a series of monographs by Susanne Kriemann, which takes as its starting point the former industrial site of limestone mining at Furillen on the north-eastern coast of Gotland, Sweden’s biggest island. It is informed by the artist’s ongoing preoccupation with photography, labour and archaeology. Susanne Kriemann participated in the BAC Site Residency programme in Gotland 2014. She used her time for fieldtrips and research on the history of the lime stone industry and the current cement production on the island. In 2015 she returned to Gotland, to make her final series of photographs for the book publication and the photographic print series duskdust.
The book includes photographs taken during her residencies and site visits, archival material as well as text contributions by invited authors. Writer Kirsty Bell travelled to Gotland to follow the artist’s research trails while media theorist Jussi Parikka situates Kriemann’s artistic approach within current discourse on geology and media. Maria Barnas wrote a poem based on Kriemann’s walk through a tunnel on Furillen. Livia Paldi introduces The Site Residency programme and the specificity of the selected site in relationship to Kriemann’s work.
Ingela Johansson started her work on Andrei’s Maria while she participated in the Research-in Residence program at BAC in 2016. In the artist’s film the Icelandic actress Guðrún Gísladóttir returns to the site of the shooting with her daughter Vera Illugadóttir, thirty years later and talks about the making of the film. It is an interpretation and a tribute to one of the film’s main characters, Maria – the witch, who was destined to save the world from a nuclear disaster. The film reflects on Tarkovsky’s criticism of civilization, dream interpretations, spiritual devotion, while going behind the scenes from Gísladóttir´s unique perspective.
In August 2018, they will be presenting their research and their impressions in the Portable Landscapes exhibition at Körsbärsgården on Gotland. The exhibition will be based on moments, glimpses of facts, ideas and understanding and amongst other things presented by objects by Hintz and Meldere painted with handmade natural and mineral pigments resembling the flora and fauna of Gotland. The Portable Landscapes exhibition on Gotland constitutes a satellite to the big Portable Landscapes exhibition of Baltic exile art communities organized by the LCCA, that will be on view at the National Museum of Art in Riga in April-June this year.
‘Pilgrim’ stems from the Latin peregrinus, which originally meant foreigner, wanderer, exile, and traveller, as well as newcomer and stranger. The participants of Apostlahästar på Gotland discovered the
island beyond the conventional tourist perspective, through the temporary role of the pilgrim. By wandering through the cultural heritage and natural environment of Gotland they explored the past of the island, in order to understand our present and visualize our future.
“I was born in Northern Latvia, in the elevated plane of Vidzeme. From the hill on which my farm is located, I can clearly see the highway that links the capital of Latvia Riga with Pskov in Russia. Stories about the war transport and refugees moving along this road, is a part of the collective memory shared by my family and our neighbours. So are the stories about leaving Latvia and becoming refugees. One quarter of my family tree was uprooted and moved to the United States, England and Germany and the reason for that was the Second World War. I had heard stories of refugees leaving Latvia to Germany and Sweden. How farmers and craftsmen born in the hills of Vidzeme moved through the flat central Latvia to see the Baltic
Sea perhaps for the first time. They stood on the sandy dunes looking at the water that seemed endless. Then they entered that water, spending many nervous hours in rough seas and fearing bombardment from the air and submarines from below to end up on a rocky shore among strangers.
I am interested in finding out how the farmers and fishermen of the east coast of Gotland and Fårö remember the stream of people through their yards and houses during World War Two. Before talking to these people, I assumed that it had to be a strange experience: you live a peaceful life on your farm on the Baltic shore and then one day you are confronted with a crowded boat full of strange people. It is followed by another boat and then yet another… People walk through your yard. There are Swedish army personnel and the Red Cross busy on the island, taking care of the newcomers. Within a few months, boats with over ten thousand Balts moored in the few places where it was possible on the rocky shore. The shore and small harbours were full of their battered boats. Tents and barracks were built to house the newcomers.
When I talked to people in Gotland, I was moved by the fact that they considered help to their overseas neighbours as something self-evident and natural. Many of them compare the events at the end of the Second World War to what is happening in the Mediterranean nowadays and they show the same empathy, from which the Balts benefited many decades ago, to Kurds, Syrians, Iraqis and other refugees from countries ravaged by vicious wars. Within the framework of this project, I documented recollections of islanders, which, along with their portraits, form an impressive textual and visual narrative.”
The artist Henrik Andersson about Repetition:
“The question of the origins of music is as topical in today’s Visby as it was in Greece during antiquity 2500 years ago. Because musical harmony could be explained mathematically it made people think that music was something that followed the laws of physics, rather than originated from within culture. People have often sought to control how, when and where music should be played – as it affects us in ways we cannot control.”
Mats Hermansson, Dean of Visby Cathedral:
“Visby Cathedral, Saint Maria, has been at the centre of Visby since 1225 and has always provided a runway for things international, different and foreign. She was built originally for the German merchants in Visby. As a Church and Cathedral she embraces all of her yearly 300 000 visitors. Everybody’s welcome – regardless of the purpose of the visit. The church has always manifested Everybody’s equal worth. This has been the case from its origins and this is still the case all over the world. The Visby Cathedral has named itself the Love Cathedral of Sweden. All love is of God. This is the heritage of the Church: The God of our lives makes way through all the moral rubble, through to each and everyone of us and says: You are allowed to be who you are – Don’t be afraid! Saint Maria is more related to other holy rooms over the world than to other buildings in Visby. We humans have given these holy rooms beautiful names like: Synagogue, Pagoda, Temple and Mosque.
BAC – Baltic Art Center is a residency for contemporary art on Gotland. We are an international meeting place in the Baltic Sea region that brings together artists and organisations, that share our engagement in today’s society, in artistic projects. The restaging of Henrik Andersson’s piece for church bells played in an arabic ton scale, together with Visby Cathedral and Konstfrämjandet (People’s Movements for Art Promotion) is a way for us to reflect on recent years political upheavals and to create a dialogue about the role of culture in public space.
About Konstfrämjandet – People’s Movements for Art Promotion:
The People’s Movements for Art Promotion collaborates with its member associations and other art promoters so that art can be present in all parts of society. Artistic thinking is our common ability for innovation and we see art as a way of thinking ABOUT the world. Henrik Andersson’s piece originates from our musical history and shows us how humanity thinks and develops.
In May 2016, 12 young people from Gotland and the Baltic States participated in an art project that followed the tens of thousands of people who fled the Baltic during the Second World War. Follow the participant’s experiences and thoughts about migration in Sandra Fröberg’s documentation of the project.
Also, meet Helmi Warg, whose father Hans Suur rowed from Saaremaa to Fårö Ascension Day in 1944. Suur then went back and retrieved Helmi 9 years old and the rest of the family. When Helmi returns to Gotland many years later, she finds her father’s boat at Kovik’s fishing museum.
Introduced by Lívia Páldi and with a contribution by the residency’s conceptualizer, Sebastian Cichocki, this publication presents various visual and textual materials of the residency’s three participating artists, Annika Eriksson, Susanne Kriemann, and Agnieszka Polska, including the “results” of their invited ghostwriters who translated the experience of the artists and curators into literary fiction. TSR was an opportunity for various artistic and curatorial processes, fantasies, and trajectories to intersect in unique and significant ways. The design of the book, by Krzysztof Pyda, allows for the thought fragments, notes, stories, and poetic observations of the participants to intertwine, bringing the reader into the free-floating conversation that has been basis of the residency.
Photo: Carl Johan Erikson
A defining feature of the current society is how we spend our vacations. Travelling has become a popular practice for escaping the environment of everyday life. Scholars have interpreted this temporary respite as a metaphorical pilgrimage. Under this analogy, the tourist becomes a ‘secular pilgrim’ searching for a non-quotidian experience and a punctuation mark in his/her biography. This recreational demand is echoed by the tourism industry that includes in its holiday packages sacred routes -like Camino de Santiago in Spain and S: t Olavsleden in Sweden-Norway- and secular modern pilgrimages -like Elvis Presley’s grave at Graceland.
The publication features more than fifteen artists and writers who engage with a variety of comedic techniques, often as a way to subvert the strategies and themes of stand-up comedy and rethink artistic performativity and audience participation. Public speech and the ways of addressing sensitive issues, stereotypes, taboos, and power relations are also examined, not only to seek new modes of public address, but to look critically at the art world and cultural-political operations, conservatism, and inflexibility.
Opening reception of the mural painting “Time capsule” made by students from the Vilnius Fine Arts Academy in Lithuania and part of the BAC youth project: In the Trails of the Boat Refugees.
Part of the opening will be a performance: “We have sung with tears”, which is inspired by a concert with the same name given by Estonian refugees to Gotland in 1944.
Following the performance is a film screening of the documentary film produced by the project.
Writer Kirsty Bell travelled to Gotland to follow the artist’s research trails while media theorist Jussi Parikka situates Kriemann’s artistic approach within current discourse on geology and media. Maria Barnas wrote a poem based on Kriemann’s walk through a tunnel at the industrial site. Lívia Páldi, former director of BAC, gives an introduction to The Site Residency program and the specificities of selected sites in relationship to Kriemann’s work.
THERE ARE THREE RULES IN THE CLUB:
1. NO PHOTOS OF THE PERFORMANCE
2. NO BODY-SHAMING
3. RESPECT DADDY
♦ 9-12 Suicide One (Ladies In Da Game – PL)
♦ 12-01 The Sweetest Thing (ES/SE/VEN)
♦ 01-02 Dgeral (VEN/ES)
♦ POWER HOUR: 9 PM-11 PM: One piece of queer literature OR 150 SEK.*
♦ AFTER 11 PM: 150 SEK.
*Intersectional queer and feminist literature, examples include printed articles, digital articles, books, magazines, self-published zines will be accepted. Selected material will be added to the IMA READ library for intersectional, queer feminist literature.
During their BAC residency, they work on the initial stages of a self-authored book, preliminarily titled: The ABC’s of Racial Privilege and Prejudice in Northern Norway.
With the intention of getting critical feedback and meaningful discussions on the ABC’s project IMA READ invited the Gotland community to 2 public events:
A Feminist Artist Brunch (FAB), with presentations of IMA READ and the ABC’s project.
POWER▼MAKT – a one-night-only queer performance club. Entrance to the club will be a piece of intersectional feminist literature (i.e. book, zine, etc.) for the IMA READ library, which will be housed in Tromsø.
Ingela Johansson’s artistic practice often responds to site-specific issues, using an interdisciplinary approach and combines various aesthetic strategies to create an engaging body of work. She questions the artist’s role as a catalyst and facilitator. Her aim is to expose and challenge the political, ethical, or social systems and the history writing about them, all of which control our everyday lives. Several of her works address the institution and the museum as a place for the public, as public space, and as an organization. Her work often starts with archive research and continues into presentations in a variety of media including video, photo, text and installation. As part of her practice, she has regularly collaborated with other artists and experts and has organized discussions.
In 2016 BAC organized a youth project, which followed in the trails of the many boat journeys that took place at the end of the Second World War, when people from the Baltic States fled the German and Soviet occupations. The dangerous crossings over the Baltic Sea took place in small and overloaded boats, and more than 10,000 people managed to reach Gotland.
12 youth: 6 from Gotland, and 2 from the each of the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania participated in the project, which included a boat journey from Ventspils to Slite on a former fishing boat. Each participant where given an account of a person who had fled, and asked to reflect on, and identify themselves with, their story.
On Gotland, the group met some current asylum seekers and heard their story. A film crew followed the participants’ thoughts and experience and the result of the project is a film documentation. The project has also had several public presentations, including art exhibitions and film screenings in all the participating countries.
The aim of the project was not intended to only commemorate the past, but also to promote a deeper understanding of the current refugee situation. Not long ago was the Baltic Sea divided by the EU border, and the project also aimed at creating more co-operation within the Baltic Sea Region.
View the trailer from the film that documented the project:
EVERYBODY READS THE NEWS!
Children, aliens, their hosts,
bots and speech recognition software,
Siri, significant others,
You start. Erratic
comets commenting verbatim.
All languages, including
forgotten, made up,
and the machine ones.
side effects, pluralist trips.
EVERYBODY READS THE NEWS!
“A dressed male” vs. “addressed mail.”
A mouth is better than a pen.
An ear is worse than lips.
Italic is better than a bold underlining.
Better is worse. Naturally,
The news and information in general flouts in the manner similar to the plankton. Do you know what the paradox of the plankton is? In aquatic biology, the paradox of the plankton describes the situation in which a limited range of resources supports an unexpectedly wide range of plankton species, apparently flouting the competitive exclusion principle, which holds that when two species compete for the same resource, one will be driven to extinction.
Similarly, please, join us for this reading night driven by various vectors of enjoyments, interests, and voices.
Theory of Plankton
“Do you know what the paradox of the plankton is? In aquatic biology, the paradox of the plankton describes the situation in which a limited range of resources supports an unexpectedly wide range of plankton species, apparently flouting the competitive exclusion principle, which holds that when two species compete for the same resource, one will be driven to extinction.
Similarly, our project is driven not by a single concept but by various interests, some of them also coming from the Baltic-Scandinavian region.”
future_island was three expert meetings and seminars organized by BAC with the aim to further support its ongoing exchange of methods of contemporary cultural production within and beyond Gotland. Each seminar addressed various notions such as: publicness; multidisciplinary working; context- and site-specificity; approaches to artistic and moving image research and experimentation in time-based forms. Exploration into these topics supported the development and launch of a new pilot, Towards Slite International (TSI).
Towards Slite International
TSI would investigate further how site-specific situations: post-industrial developments, landscaping combined with permanently or temporarily sited interventions, sculptural/architectural elements, participatory projects can encourage conversations around urgent environmental, political and social dilemmas including regeneration, migration and cultural integration. Embedded in Slite, its close vicinity and Northern Gotland TSI aims at interacting directly with both the various localities –their histories, topographies and considers inhabiting, if even temporarily, places and sites that are not primarily known for their art scenes and are outside the usual art hubs.
In cooperation with individuals, locally based industry, entrepreneurs, and regionally-based (self-)organizations the project´s main objective is to create the necessary basis for working with artists on long-term context-sensitive projects that support community development and successful youth and audience engagement in local contexts.
The primary material for TSI – as much as it was for the first phase of future_island – consists of the island itself both as a heritage site, network of human and non-human resources, and as a site of research and production, as well as a potential testfield.
TSI started with a week-long residency, site-visits and public evening seminar in December 2015 in order to develop the framework for a long-term engagement and production of both temporary and more permanent work on Gotland. Participants included art historian Cecilia Gelin, and artists Ingela Johansson and Åsa Sonjasdotter who together with Anna Norberg and Livia Paldi (BAC) discussed models and practices of collaboration, dialogue and hosting.
The residency drew attention on small museums and memorials and the role and strategies of mostly voluntarily run local organizations who safeguard particular cultural heritage.
Artists: Timo Menke and Susanne Skog (SWE) from r a k e t a
Nadya Gorokhova and Ilya Grishaev (RUS)
Curators: Maria Kotlyachkova (RUS) and r a k e t a (SWE)
Radioarctica examines the common history of the populations in the area as well as their shared geographical frame of reference by presenting an alternative mapping of opinions and experiences that go beyond the politically motivated identity formation efforts and their paradoxes.
Zhanna Guzenko and Oleg Khadartcev (Fridaymilk) will stay at BAC between October 12 and 25, 2015. During their residency they aim at conceptualizing the structure of an online radio station that is to give voice to the region’s ethnically diverse and multi-lingual communities and stimulate them to share their opinions and experiences, thus providing a unique media voice for the Barents Region.
Radioarctica is also considered as a long-term visual almanac project composed of one-minute length video portraits, a collection of several unrelated pieces that bring together various stories, experiences and attitudes to the region and of the peoples inhabiting it. The project is imagined as a constantly expanding web-based platform with video extracts that engage in dialogue on an ever-increasing range of political, social, cultural and ecological issues and provide contemplation on the challenges the region has been facing and motivation to address the considerable outflow of population from the North.
12:00-12:50 Preview of Vertigo Sea
13.00-13.10 Welcome by Katarina Pierre, Director Bildmuseet
13.10-14.10 Another history is always possible
Artist John Akomfrah in conversation with Livia Paldi, Director BAC–Baltic Art Center
14.40 -15.20 Do it yourself or in collaboration?
Artist John Akomfrah, Lina Gopaul and David Lawson from Smoking Dogs Films about the collaborative aspects of their work.
Moderator: Katarina Pierre, Bildmuseet
15.20-17.00 Screenings: Handsworth Songs (1986) and The Stuart Hall Project (2013).
14:00 Welcome från director Katarina Pierre
14:10 John Akomfrah makes a presentation of Vertigo Sea
14:30 Swedish premiere of Vertigo Sea (48 min), which will be screened continuously during Bildmuseet’s opening hours
In collaboration with BAC–Baltic Art Center, the Umeå Academy of Fine Arts and Humlab-X, Umeå University.
Information must always cross a threshold before it can be communicated to consciousness. A medium is required, something to ensure that the information can reach the other side and that, once it has arrived, it can be understood the way it was intended. A camera can of course act as that medium and represent information visually, and language itself, the very words we must use to render our thoughts comprehensible, is also a means with which to cross the threshold.
The information we receive then piles upon itself like the strata of rock formations, which show their history simultaneously, the past and present merging into a giant structure.
The condition of (artistic) labor is one to which I am always seem to return to when I consider a new work. My preoccupation with uncovering or rereading previously sculpted histories, forever shuffle through and digging into archives, has fueled my fascination with archaeology and the anthropological unearthing of lost narratives. More recently, my interest in labor as not only a necessary component of creating art, but also as the amount of physical energy that humans have, throughout history, applied to nature in order to exploit its materials, has led me to seek out areas where hard physical labor and the process of revelation converge, namely, in mining.
The work duskdust (to be completed as book work in early 2016 and as a photographic work later next spring) deals with a former cement factory turned into an Eco-friendly boutique hotel. One of the remaining mountains of cement rubble becomes the protagonist of the work. The sun renders the mountain’s resolution and colors for my high resolution camera, to become digital noise in some parts. In the work, another sun emerges, which is the lava in the oven heating up the rocks in order to crash to dust and to become cement. This act of light is controlled 24/7 by the workers in the factory. The mountain reflects both suns and questions the capacity of the eye to see, erasing material, calculation sight.
The work challenges the medium in which digital photographs enter spatial dimensions. It renders the act of crashing mountain into dust into a light absorbing material.
Susanne Kriemann, September 2015
The notion of melancholia covers a vast semantic territory from art history to global politics to most intimate and idiosyncratic psycho-geographies. It tends to be more vibrant in times of transition, even if only imagined, and it is far from coincidence that last decades witnessed „Rings of Saturn” by W.G. Sebald, „Melancholy: Genius and Madness in Art” exhibition in Neue Nationalgalerie or world awards winning „Melancholia” by Lars von Trier. The visual and conceptual realms of melancholia are well rooted in our collective representations. Yet until now, it has never been a subject of a thorough audio-analysis. “Tyto Alba” is a unique inquiry into sounds of melancholia. More than that, it shows that it is an inevitably aural phenomena, which only through sound can reveal some of its features.
“Tyto Alba” has been conceived as a theoretical research and a recording studio experiment which resulted in a sound essay published by a leading contemporary music label, Bôłt Records. Blurring the edges between sound genres, it is a horspiel and a reading; a piece of electroacoustic music as well as plunderphonics; an attempt at sound portraits or simply a collection of songs. All in all, it remains a sonic take on melancholia. But forget weepy piano music and sad boys’ songs. The sound of melancholia is extreme and obsessive. It is painful and pleasureable. Apathy and self-dismissal come not from weary music but from sonic hallucinations, acousmatic sounds and alien voices arriving at a special mode of hearing. In one of the footnotes of „Stanzas”, Giorgio Agamben points out that the well known melancholic posture of a man leaning his head against the hand is actually an attempt to get away from suffering of his ringing ear. This observation is the main coordinate of the piece’s development. It departs from melancholic listening which turns women into birds and was portrayed in the opening chapter of W.G. Sebald’s „Rings of Saturn”. From there on, the leading voice of the performance imperceptibly meanders between reading, commenting, quoting and misleading the tale – an interpretation of the Sebald’s initial intuitions. Narration wriggles from Auguste Rodin to Bedřich Smetana, from Georges Perec to Alvin Lucier. Their music and words are accompanied by hundreds of found footage samples bringing together laryngological patients, paranormal voices, death rattles, monaural beats, tinnitus sounds but most of all birds, in particular barn owls. They are all mirrored by saxophone playing by the one and only – Martin Küchen.
Live performance of “Tyto Alba” heads for an overwhelming and immersive seance in which all the aforementioned sounds merge and collide to form an audio phantasy of melancholic listening, a room-full of sound in which a listener loses a sense of space – designed by one more one and only sound engineer in Europe, Ralf Meinz.
For the last 30 years and spanning cinema, television, and gallery-based installations, John Akomfrah’s work has engaged with questions of memory and identity, creating moving-image works which give a voice to the legacy of the African Diaspora in Europe. He fills the voids in history using archival material to create film essays and speculative fictional stories about our collective past. His innovative works, expanding the boundaries of the documentary form and the format of the film essay. In his poetic and polyphonic films, Akomfrah creates sensual audio-visual experiences while simultaneously exploring a filmic language that may comprehend the trauma and sense of alienation of displaced subjects.
The lecture and screening of Liza Babenko’s short videos; Maidan: Lost Revolution, (2014), and Banderovite (2013) will focus the post-colonial, social and visual analysis of the Ukrainian Maidan revolution, from an internal perspective. Position of the Ukrainian “Other”, which historically belonged to the Crimea and Donbass, will be problematized as an post-colonial evidence of a country broken into several national identities. Based on the researches of the Ukrainian political and historical situation, Babenko discusses the necessity of actualization in nowadays “post-Maidan” Ukraine such analytical categories as nationalism, patriotism, national identity politics and politics of memory concerning the Second World War. Besides, taking into consideration the activation of the new oligarchic elites in Ukraine following the Maidan events, Babenko proposes to go out of the both mainstream and populist propagandas (Russian imperialistic and Ukrainian nationalist-patriotic agendas) and try to find a more socially oriented and united all Ukrainian regions form of the possible revolution.
Sergei Loznitsa: MAIDAN, HD, color, 130 min
MAIDAN chronicles the civil uprising that took place in Kiev (Ukraine) in the winter of 2013/14. The film follows the progress of the revolution: from peaceful rallies, half a millionstrong, in the Maidan square, to the bloody street battles between the protestors and riot police. MAIDAN is a portrait of an awakening nation, rediscovering its identity. Director Sergei Loznitsa rises above current political issues and looks at the nature of the popular uprising as a social, cultural and philosophical phenomenon. A powerful mix of enthusiasm, heroic struggle, terror, courage, aspiration, people’s solidarity, folk culture, passion and self-sacrifice, MAIDAN is a stunning cinematic canvas combining classical film making style and documentary urgency.
Drawing on, and abstracting, the framework of the residency, Eriksson’s approach and method enquires into the possibility for a site to provide the script, and remit. For the city itself to serve as the ghostwriter of choice.
Something is here nothing is here (horror) takes the form of a light box placed in a pedestrian tunnel in the city center. The light of the sign is slowly fading in and out. Something is here nothing is here (horror) manifests and insists on its own impossibility, as a continuously present and breathing presence. This slightly disturbing figure, has no obvious sender; it is not a commercial, nor an official message. The piece is left behind, permanent yet following, and subjected to the conditions of its site.
Participating artists: Carlos Amorales (MX), Heidrun Holzfeind (A), Sven Johne (DE), Meiro Koizumi (JP), Susanne Kriemann (DE), Zbigniew Libera (PL), Maha Maamoun (EG), Roee Rosen (IL), Clemens von Wedemeyer (DE).
Curators: Edit Molnar and Livia Paldi
The exhibition is on view between April 24 and May 31, 2015 at Galeria Centralis / Open Society Archives, Budapest and between April 16 and May 7, 2015 at Platan Gallery / Polish Institute Budapest.
The one day seminar is divided into 3 segments
Morning field trip to the bottom of the quarry and a visit to the Cementa tower with a magnificent view of the surroundings for a Micro/macro view of Slite.
Petra Gråberg, Swedish Institute, programme manager, Baltic Sea Unit, Department for International Relations.
Rainer Hauswirth, Director Goethe-Institute Sweden
Nivå landskapsarchitects, Vasaplan Umeå project presentation
Ingo Vetter, visual artist working with sculpture, photography and installations.
Evening program at Slite theatre for the local community in Swedish:
Introduction by Slite community architect
BAC short films by: Jeremy Deller, Sacrilege, 2012
Katie Paterson, Future Library, 2014
Michael Sailstorfer, Folkestone Digs, 2014
Lisa Näslund, landscape architect
Panel discussion where local community members, municipality clerks and Cementa will present their future visions for Slite. The audience will be invited to leave comments or ask questions.
Local school children have been working with Gotland Museum art educator with visions for the future quarry on exhibit in the theatre.
How to tell the story of a very old place of confinement and punishment? What happens if all the pictures are wrong or missing and the people long gone? What traces and messages might they have left for us to find? After such terrible treatment, it is possible now to offer those confined in the prison a more hospitable welcome? This is the hope.
THE WORKHOUSE (BREITENAU ROOM) is a collaboration between artist Ines Schaber and writer Avery F. Gordon produced for dOCUMENTA (13), which engages with the history of the former monastery, workhouse, concentration camp, Gestapo camp, and girls’ reformatory. Over time, Breitenau has confined many persons considered extraneous and disposable, subjecting them to a regime of punishment and correction.
Consisting of photographs, curtain, text, and audio files, THE WORKHOUSE (BREITENAU ROOM) presents glimpses of fugitive knowledge that emerges in and around Breitenau. This knowledge carries a feeling for justice and embodies a principle – “what exists cannot be true“- that brings to life what Ernst Bloch called the “not-yet“, thereby conjuring historical alternatives that could have been taken but were not.
(excerpt from the cover)
Text: Avery F. Gordon, Ines Schaber
Photography: Ines Schaber
Translation into German: Stefan Pente, Ines Schaber, Nikolai Franke
Translation into English: William Wheeler
Editor: Ines Schaber
Design: form und sinn
Litography and Print: DZA – Druckerei zu Altenburg, Altenburg
Published by Verlag der Buchhandlung Walter König, Köln, 2014
Photo: Ines Schaber / Avery F. Gordon: The Workhouse (Breitenau Room) (2012). Installation (photographs, curtain, text, audio). Courtesy the authors and dOCUMENTA (13)
The Workhouse is the name for a series of activities and projects called rooms organized by Avery Gordon and Ines Schaber. Overall, The Workhouse’s activities are broadly concerned with the cultivation of ways of living and working independently/autonomously of, or outside of, or in opposition to, or as an alternative to, or alongside of but not entirely inside of the dominant terms of social order. The traditional workhouses, first developed in the late 16th century and reaching their peak in the 19th century, were prisons where people, mostly poor, who refused to work or stay put or behave like “good” workers and obedient social subjects were confined, punished, and corrected. By contrast, the Schaber/Gordon Workhouse activities are designed to provide a hospitable space for the critical and imaginative thinking/practices of “bad” workers, idlers, strikers, collaborators, runaways, and other individuals who do not want and need conventional “correction” and “re-education.”
The Workhouse is a member of The Hawthorne Archive and some of its materials are held there.
Photo: Courtesy the authors and dOCUMENTA (13)
Sometimes when you plan things, really plan, they don’t go the way you imagine. After discussions at BAC–Baltic Art Center, the Måfå Research Group decided that too much planning would exclude space for things to evolve in this outdoors event. Instead, we shifted our attention to create something which allowed for the random, for the unexpected, for a co-created space; a space which let in air and light with openings for people to invite themselves.
Dialogue is, of course, something that doesn’t just take place in outer talk between people. Here it involved people wondering in their inner dialogue, being in relation to an old space in a new way, using the medium of their phone camera to take pictures of something they came across to show others. This is all dialogue. And inclusivity. But there was outer talk too.
“What’s in the bags?” we were asked. “What would you put in the bags?” we asked back. Love, hope, tenderness, care, people answered.
“Hey!” said one young man, “I was just coming over to challenge you! I thought you wanted money from people. And then I saw, you were just drawing people in. This is beautiful!”
When we looked around at the blank white paper bags with candles burning in them we thought, yes, we were right not to put words on the bags. Bags, in this world, almost always have words on them. We live in a highly worded world, where words are synonymous with influence, usually with a socio-economic agenda. Instead, visitors made their own meanings, and chatted. The young men who had been doing acrobatics on the concrete and grass came and helped us lay out the installation and then continued to run through them in their build up to great leaps of faith. One of the young men recognized his teacher who came to see the installation. He hugged her with warmth and respect. Another young man hung around, despite us not having cigarettes to offer him. It was enough to talk and be involved.
After deconstructing the installation and reconstructing it along the sea wall, we allowed it to go into its further incarnation, flames to the sea’s edge. Like we too continue to change and take on different forms on the edges of chance meetings.
For further information please contact:
Dennis Josefson, founder of the program
Through an unsettling arrangement of sound, voice and moving images derived from on location interviews and footage as well as archival material, the single-channel video installation invites audiences to explore Chinese and Aboriginal (indigenous Taiwanese) philosophies and practices of healing as well as the dominant (’official’) Euro- American mental health paradigm, and to relate these to the larger social and historical framework of Taiwan’s development as a modern and post- colonial state. RTS relays fragmented blocs of sensation, sense-knowledge, in uneasy relations to each other. In so doing, it mirrors or relays fault-lines in Taiwan as a nation-assemblage, at the same time provoking the imagination of possibilities for new and more life affirming subjectivities, not only in Taiwan, where it was shot, but also wherever Rupini and Tan exhibit the work and extend it through conversations with different audiences and cultures.
In addition to the installation, Rupini and Tan have developed the public walks workshop as a means of exploring connections between different local histories, spaces and actors, in relation to the broad research themes of RTS. The first edition was introduced in Manila (Philippines) in 2013. The second edition is planned for Malmö in 2014. Given that the walks in Malmö will take place directly after the Swedish General Election, Rupini and Tan intend to explore issues of ’race,’ (a concept which, apparently, should be removed from Swedish legislation) discrimination and power in Sweden, and to relate these issues to Sweden’s international relations. Participants will be identified from the Skåne region, for example, a representative of the Arbetarröreslens Arkiv i Skåne (The Labour Movement’s Archives and Library), and invited to participate in the run up to the event.
Rupini and Tan are particularly interested in local views on current socio- political issues, for example, immigration and the rise of Sverige Demokraterna (the Sweden Democrats). The public walks effectively map the outlines of Sweden as a transnational assemblage, made up of global flows of people and capital, and changing relations between ’East’ and ’West’ as these change with the movements of colonisation and decolonisation. Participants are given the option of being recorded or not during the conversations.
Asger Jorn founded SISV together with a scholarly group in 1962, following his break with the Situationist movement. SISV was intended to operate both as a publishing house and as a research centre bringing together different disciplines ranging from archaeology, art and cultural history to the visual arts in order to revisit the legacy of pre-Christian Scandinavia, within the European context. Jorn was working towards what he called “’10,000 years of Nordic Folk Art” (10 000 års nordisk folkekunst), a series of 32 books with photographs of historical artifacts based on his research and documentation.
Photo: Gérard Franceschi 1964. © Donation Jorn, Silkeborg
The seminar is aimed at inventorying the archives while at the same time questioning the accumulated material, its history, and its past and current status and context, as well as the aesthetic and political implications of Jorn’s encyclopaedic comparative method – his work as an artist-historian operating in the field of scientific historical research, with the research itself as his artistic material.
Together with Jacqueline de Jong, who accompanied Jorn on Gotland in 1964 August, the seminar also revisits different locations and sites that had been photographed by Gerard Franceschi and Ulrik Ross for the Institute.
The Scandinavian Mutant Summer Camp seminar is co-organized by BAC and Henrik Andersson accompanying his exhibition “Scandinavian Vandalism” at Gotlands Konstmuseum with the kind support of Konstnärsnämden.
Today the majority of ideas brought forward in the arts of any kind, have likely been conceived in the English language by a person with a mother tongue other than English.
For every native speaker of the English language, there are 4 non-native speakers. As the world’s primary lingua franca, English is now a language of non-standards whose syntax, vocabularies and pronunciation vary across the globe. Strangely, this language does not itself have a name or status; its use is considered something of a natural fact; and its artistic potential is largely ignored.
There are several causes and effects of the prominence of English, many of which can be judged undesirable. But when English speakers world-wide would rid themselves from a single native-speaking standard and from proficiency qualification; when they would co-opt the language that they may or may not feel has been imposed on them, the possibilities for emancipatory and creative use are abundant. The aesthetic problems of using English as a simplified relay language between different tongues may dissolve. The suffocating influence of professional jargon may disappear. Utopian, often universalistic, language projects of the past may be renewed.
Dutch artist Nicoline van Harskamp has been working on an ongoing project and a film on this topic, that includes a number of language experiments around Europe.
Photo © BAC
For the experiment on Gotland, 4 artists from Serbia, Korea, Cuba and Tehran come together in a house in Hangvar. The house represents a ‘place without language’, i.e. some kind of linguistic neutrality. Katarina Popovic, Jinjoo Kim, Susana Matienzo and Setareh Fatehi, each speak a very different version of English that they have learned and developed in their respective countries. In the course of 3 days, they will bring each others’ Englishes closest possible to one common point. Not in terms of what is most intelligible (there are studies and theories around that already that usually involve simplification) but in terms of an ambition or desire they might have for the future use of a “common” language, especially in relation to the arts.
Finally, the participants and Nicoline van Harskamp will create a small scene that is scripted in the desired English(es), that will be staged in one of the beautiful settings that Gotland offers. Together with extensive recordings from the working-process, this scene will be included as a video work in the overall project “Englishes”.
An earlier piece was commissioned by BMW Tate Live: Performance Room in 2013. You can view it online.
Marcus Lindeen, filmmaker and writer based in Stockholm
Ewa Einhorn and Jeuno JE Kim, artists based in Berlin and Seoul /MalmöFilm on Gotland: Reinventing Cinema – in search of future film art
Paola Ciliberto, film commissioner at Film on Gotland, initiator of the project Gotland Film Lab in Kustateljén, Fårösund, that aims at developing a platform for artistic film production
Anna Eborn, filmmaker based in Stockholm
Hjalmar Palmgren, director of the Production Funding & Promotion Department, Swedish Film Institute, Stockholm
Valand Academy: Camera as a tool
Klara Björk, producer and head of Department of Film Studies at Valand Academy–University of Gothenburg
Linda Sternö, filmmaker and producer, lecturer at Film Curating MA program at the Valand Academy–University of Gothenburg
Cecilia Torquato, film director, producer and the research representative for the Department of Film Studies at Valand Academy–University of Gothenburg
Patrik Eriksson, PhD fellow at the Department of Film Studies at Valand Academy–University of Gothenburg
In her film, Polska describes the future as a space deprived of any attributes other than memory. The mutual influences of the past and the forthcoming events are staged in at once ludicrous and melancholic situation of the ‘heaven for the artists’, where the artists from different generations meet after death. The encounter in the symbolic, phantasmal landscape is followed by the discussions exploring the notion of human desire for methaphysics and the urge toward the sublime and knowledge.
“The Tape Never Lies” is an autonomous act of the institutional opera “Spoken Exhibitions” prepared by Sebastian Cichocki, Michał Libera, Jarosław Trybuś and Grzegorz Piątek. The audio drama in three acts draws its inspiration from non-mainstream projects, familiar only to a handful of specialists, in art, music and architecture – projects never carried out or missing documentation. Spoken Exhibitions are a textual collage divided into roles, composed of both existing and imaginary notes, manifestoes and postulates of artists.
The Tape Never Lies is a mockumentary bringing together three infamous thieves of sound. Kicking off from a never displayed and never photocopied score of Krzysztof Pendercki’s “Psalmus”, diving into the history of inventing a stethoscope and ending up with a recording of a recording of a piece of anecdotal music. All referring to visions of Edgar Varese. A reading session accompanied by a soundtrack consisting of music by Krzysztof Penderecki, John Tilbury, Rinus van Alebeek and many others.
Good artists borrow. Great artists steal
Pablo Picasso. Or Igor Stravinsky
The greatest swindles in music business come not from the sheer appropriation of the material. This is minor money and quick trials. The big money is in the thefts of mean, deceitful and most of all public character. It is in re-appropriation turned against the author, in a public perversion of his or her image. It is in Michael Jackson having “Bad” hiccup or Dolly Parton pretending to be male in “Pretender”.
Over the last decades with the development of P2P and YouTube stealing became an innocent and barely visible everyday practice. So the question is not whether to steal or not. The question is why deliberately make it public? The talk will about the specifics of thefts in the aural domain, the ownership and the loss of sonic identity, and finally stealing sounds and music in order to develop a critical response on culture and art.
The research Radul has proposed at BAC has a number of stages. She is not turning questions of the residency into the “content”, however the plan is to admit into the working process, all the complexities of the encounter. That is, the work incorporates its own startled response to the diversity and unfamiliarity of both the residency possibilities/expectations, and the Gotland experience.
It begins with developing a method. Not a method solely by which to produce an artwork, but a method which is an artwork. What is needed is kind of system for research, collecting, collaborating, recording, editing, displaying. The method is one that continuously turns the corner on itself. It begins with a re-conception of fieldwork.
Canadian artist Charles Stankievech makes a distinction between the method of field work, and “a fieldwork”, that is a work which is “dynamic and geospatial.” The method will configure the encounter between a range of artists, thinkers, visitors and locals who will be brought in as a team that is diverse and shifting. The models for such teamwork are ethnological or forensic fieldwork, script writing, collage, new music and movement improvisation.
Photocredit: Judy Radul 2013 © BAC
Judy Radul says: “we will consider the specifics of Gotland including militarization, limestone mining, nature and leisure and how these categories come into play. We will also tune ourselves to “nothing” to the tangible artificiality of our own presence, to the empty spaces as much as the obvious “topics”. One of the responsibilities of art is to produce a response where none has been called for, to visit without invitation, to alter the relation between subject and object, that is the paradigms for thought and social relations.”
Invited experts are Anne Lang from Region Halland, who is presenting In Site, an EU-based joint art project with the internationally acclaimed artist Susan Philipsz. Magdalena Malm, direktor of the Public Art Agency Sweden, and the Belgian artist Els Dietvorst showing her Irish film project: The Black Lamb. The Hungarian artist Tamás Kaszás and Gotland based cultural studies scientist Lena Nygårds, will host a workshop with glimpses of a future Gotland ecology.
Co-hosted by BAC, Gotland Museum of Art, and the Gotland Gallery Association (Gocart Gallery). With support from Region Gotland, Region Halland, Public Art Agency Sweden.
Currently Susanne Kriemann is an advising researcher at the Jan Van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, the Netherlands, where she is continuing her exploration of the power of archives. She incorporates her own photographs with those she has extracted from the vaults of the past, creating works that are not only visually associative but also contextually related, so that a many-layered narrative begins to appear when viewing her projects. Her complex series of photographs are often also published as artist books, with ‘One Day’ published in 2010 by Witte de With, Rotterdam, ‘Ashes and broken brickwork of a logical theory’ in 2010 by ROMA, Amsterdam, ‘One Time One Million’ in 2009 by ROMA, Amsterdam, and ‘12 650’ in 2008 by A Prior, Ghent.
Additionally, she has brought out works that appear exclusively in print form, such as ‘The Future – Ramses Files’ published in 2006 as a newspaper, her 2012 project ‘Het Licht/The Light’ also in newspaper format, and ‘Reading Susanne Kriemann’, a textbook comprised of essays on her work and how it relates to the acts of reading and perceiving. These artist books are testaments to her overarching concern with historiography—how history is written, read, and rewritten—and the connections that can be found between art, literature, and archaeology. Currently she is working on a new artist book, which bears the Latin palindrome as title, ‘in girum imus nocte et consumimur igni’ to be published in spring 2014.
During his stay he worked on the text, a selection of sound recordings, as well as making some new recordings. It became an audio essay about the unbearable listening – a work-in -progress that will result in a recording and a performance. The piece is inspired by Giorgio Agamben’s associations between melancholy and listening, and by Javier Maria’s world of auditory vulnerability. It is an exploration of the subject, misconceptions and scams related to the act of listening. It consists of libretto, audio found footage, field recordings and music all brought together to construct a sonic argumentation in a crime story on the joys of being deaf.
The panel is organized by Olav Westphalen, artist and Lars-Erik Hjertström Lappalainen, philosopher and writer, and BAC. It is produced in the framework of Context in Flux – Methodological tools for cultural institutions with the support of The Swedish Exhibition Agency.
BAC, Nida Art Colony and Art Lab Gnesta are small art institutions located in a geographical periphery. Each institution has their specific profile, but they all run residency programs with a range of activities, which span from exhibitions, seminars and education. At the same time it is evident for these smaller institutions that the conditions are in a continuous change. Target groups are changing, funding is under constant negotiation, new networks develop over geographical and interdisciplinary areas.
Context in Flux mainly consists of workshops where the participants investigate:
– Relationships between place and practice.
– The interaction between the local situation and the flow of practices and people.
– The residency program as a productive arena and sheltered laboratory.
Photo: Ulrika Trygg-Wiberg
The symposiums are accessible online through interviews, materials selected from the archives of the participating institutions and individuals; PDF.
Nida Art Colony, Nida, Lithuania
October 12-13, 2013
The Swedish Exhibition Agency and BAC, Visby, Sweden
November 22-23, 2013
The Mobile Archive is a project initiated in March 2007 and developed by Eyal Danon and Galit Eilat as a sister project to the Israeli Center for Digital Art’s Video Archive with Eva Birkenstock from the Kunstverein, Hamburg. It comprises over 2000 video and multimedia works from the Center with a strong focus on issues of identity and body politics, nationalism, and militarism, and include artists such as Oreet Ashery, Yael Bartana, Guy Ben-Ner, Michael Blum, Candice Breitz, Amit Goren, Dor Guez, Mark Lewis, Avi Mograbi, Yoshua Okon, Roee Rosen, Ruti Sela and Artur Zmijewski.
The Mobile Archive has been shown at exhibitions, conferences, festivals and university classrooms, often accompanied by artist talks, curated screening programs, and discussions.
Hosts so far have included: Kunstverein Hamburg, Germany; WYSPA Institute of Art, Gdansk, Poland; Gallery Nova, Zagreb, Croatia; Universita luav di Venezia, Venice, Italy; Halle fur Kunst, Luneberg, Germany; The Newbury Gallery of The Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, Scotland; Careof e Viafarini, DOCVA, Milan, Italy; Art in General, New York, USA; Stacion Center for Contemporary Art Prishtina, Prishtina, Kosovo; Centro da Cultura Judaica, Sao Paulo, Brazil; Kunsthaus Baselland / Dreispitz, Basel, Switzerland; VAC – UT Austin, Texas, USA; Tranzitdisplay, Prague, Czech Republic; steirischer herbst Festival, Graz, Austria and Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds, UK.
The Mobile Archive is conceived of as a continually expanding resource and all the above-named institutions have contributed new video works to the archive as it tours.
Agnieszka Polska creates video works employing mainly found material, such as archive photography and illustrations, which she subjects to subtle interventions, whether animating them or working them into the existing image. In the process, the artist changes their primary context, simultaneously creating illusions of documentation. She investigates the impact of documentation on its future reception. Her visually powerful explorations of lost times or half-forgotten figures of the Polish avant-garde, turn to how the past is fictionalised and re-worked.
Anyone with a keen interest in Norse mythology, art and archaeology may find it well worth their time to visit Grötlingbo, a small village located towards the southern end of the island of Gotland, in the Baltic Sea. Behind the medieval stone church in the graveyard, among the scattered tombstones, there is one whose peculiar twisted form separates it from the others: atop a cubic stone base stands an approximately 50-cm-tall bronze sculpture in the shape of a bust. The contorted portrait gives the impression of a lump of clay thrown to the ground. This marks the final resting place of internationally acclaimed Danish artist Asger Jorn (1914-1973). Jorn was well known both for his extensive oeuvre of abstract expressionist paintings and sculptures and for being the founding member of important post-war avant-garde movements such as the COBRA (1948-51) and the Situationist International.
Asger Jorn’s grave in Grötlingbo, Gotland. Photo: Henrik Andersson.
This gives rise to the question: “Why does this famous artist have his final resting place in this particular place on Gotland?” Jorn had no family from the island, but, according to a local artist, the area was something of a spiritual home to him. Throughout his career, Jorn found inspiration in folk art, which he saw as an immediate expression of creativity. Following his break with the Situationist movement, he in 1962 founded , together with a scholarly group consisting of Peter Glob and Werner Jacobsen (National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen) and Holger Arbman (University of Lund, Sweden), the Scandinavian Institute Of Comparative Vandalism (Skandinavisk institut for sammenlignende vandalisme – SISV), which was intended to operate both as a publishing house and as a research centre bringing together different disciplines ranging from archaeology, art and cultural history to the visual arts in order to revisit the legacy of pre-Christian Scandinavia, within the European context. Jorn was working towards what he called “10,000 years of Nordic Folk Art” (10 000 års nordisk folkekunst), a series of 32 books with photographs of historical artefacts based on his research and documentation. The content was to be assembled and edited together with the assistance of both scholars from academia and the publisher, Skandinavisk Forlag. Jorn worked with the design and layout of the extensive photographic material and as editor of the books. His artistic ambitions later proved to be a hindrance to the realization of the series (only one book was published in his lifetime), as the academics grew increasingly critical towards his approach and work methods, which led Jorn to terminate the project.
The archive of the Scandinavian Institute Of Comparative Vandalism is now housed in the Museum Jorn in Silkeborg, Denmark. Together with manuscripts, it consists of over 25,000 photographs (mostly negatives and contact sheets) taken by French photographer Gerard Franceschi and Ulrik Ross, who had been commissioned by Jorn to document historical artefacts during their trips through Scandinavia and Europe. Andersson’s research is aimed at inventorying the archives, while at the same time questioning the accumulated material, its history, and its past and current status and context, as well as the aesthetic and political implications of Jorn’s encyclopaedic comparative method – his work as an artist-historian operating in the field of scientific historical research, with the research itself as his artistic material. (text edited from the artist’s proposal)
“The structure of Future Days, the constant “stumbling” over the remains of works of art (which are, perhaps, not works of art at all, but rather their material after-effects), recalls a classic, pseudo-touristic text by Robert Smithson, A Tour of the Monuments of Passaic, New Jersey, which was first published in Artforum in 1967. The artists blundering through heaven are forever talking and thinking about art, the horizon of the new ultimately out of sight. Condemned to eternity, they can no longer dream of originality or “progress.” As Bas Jan Ader once suggested, they are “consumers of extreme comfort,” endlessly staring into the past. (…)”
Excerpt from Sebastian Cichocki, Agnieszka Polska, Future Days, or: The Artist as Sight-seer, in “Tourists Like Us-Critical Tourism and Contemporary Art” (eds.: Frederika Martini and Vytautas Michelkevičius), ECAV-Ecole Cantonale d`Art du Valais, Sierre and Vilnius Academy of Arts Press in association with VAA Nida Art Colony, 2013. Read more
In 2012 Goshka Macuga visited Afghanistan twice to research her project for dOCUMENTA(13) opening that same year. During her stay she visited the Afghan Film Archive in Kabul and learned about their precarious and endangered operation during the Taliban era. The threats to the archive are due to a constant lack of resources needed to digitize stocks of newsreels, feature and documentary films, and funding to maintain equipment and the premises. Macuga became interested in supporting the archive and decided to buy small strips of film that have been thrown away through the process of digitization. Following extensive email correspondence with an Afghan mediator, she was sent a parcel of 35mm cut-offs. Surprisingly, the material turned out to be 19 separate film rolls containing only censored, sexually explicit scenes from foreign and Afghan films.
For her newly commissioned works presented at Index in co-production with BAC, the artist proposed to re-edit and re-contextualize these censored footages. In re-ordering the material Macuga presents a new comparative reading to the differing perception, norms, conditioning to and permitted exposure of physical intimacy, violence and gender discrimination in Afghan and Western cultures. The display defines a dialogue with the archival material that in Non-Consensual Act (in progress) takes the form of a film, prints and documents. Included in the exhibition are excerpts of correspondence uncovering the obstacles, contradictions and opportunities that arose in approaching the material under scrutiny.
This is not the first time Macuga has worked with materials that have been removed from their source. Her series Untitled (2008) used photographs belonging to a Vietnam War veteran as part of the installation I Become Death, as well as the documentary film Snake Society in collaboration with the anthropologist Julian Gastelo, both shown at Kunsthalle Basel in 2009. In these works she selected images that resonated with her ongoing research on Aby Warburg’s study of the rituals and iconography of Hopi American Indian art.
PERPETUUM LABS part 1- Curating the Political is a 3-day event for professional debate and criticism, and constructive and dissenting opinions on primarily exhibition practices in the field. The LAB will use prominent case-studies in curatorial practice as starting points, while drawing on theoretical texts, academic research and activist practice. Each LAB will also develop new approaches and potentials for future projects.
Bringing together established curators and artists by invitation, and a younger generation Nordic and Baltic resident participants by open call, the seminar seeks to develop analytical and nuanced positions starting from diverse set of well-informed standpoints.
PERPETUUM LABS / BAC proposes a number of questions to be discussed regarding the contemporary “political” artistic and curatorial strategies, their pitfalls (e.g. appropriation by the institutions being critiqued) and successes. Questions regarding how the notions of critical art, radical art, subversive art, provocative art, political art, and activist art operate within the current terminology will be raised, in regards to how curators approach, present, and reflect on acute political and social conflicts in the intersection of politics and art.
Based both on both recent projects of the invited international experts, and a selection of recent exhibitions, biennials and projects, the seminar discusses how politics, art and political action are and can be related. The question of whether the demand for “autonomy” is only a tactical/strategic position, or presents truly a philosophical stand, will be looked at. Finally the LAB will consider what role contemporary art plays in examining, articulating and presenting the current political state of affairs using the medium of exhibition.
Mentors include Bassam el Baroni, curator and writer (Alexandria/London), Nicoline van Harskamp, artist (Amsterdam), Vladan Jeremic,curator, writer and activist (Belgrade), Marita Muukkonen, curator (Helsinki/Berlin), Livia Paldi, curator (Visby) and Ivor Stodolsky, curator and theorist (Helsinki/Berlin).
Perpetuum Mobilε, co-founded by Ivor Stodolsky and Marita Muukkonen in 2007, is a curatorial vehicle which brings together art, practice and enquiry and develops longer-term thematic projects including conferences, workshops, residencies and small and large exhibitions. PM has worked extensively at the Nordic region, European and international level. Their projects include The Perpetual Gypsy Pavilion (launched during the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009), The Arts Assembly, an art-and-debate format which has been deployed at ACSI in Helsinki, the 8th Manifesta Biennale, ENSBA in Paris and CAFA in Beijing. Their most recent thematic project is A Re-Aligned Art.
Bauer and Thor will discuss their conceptual backgrounds and working methods with archives and documents and the role of the image in bearing witness to historical events. Their talk will be supported by a selection of films from The Mobile Archive currently hosted by BAC. Read more about the archive.
The film develops a narrative of a fictitious society on an unstable piece of land in danger of disappearing. This situation requires the population’s collective initiative in order to secure the survival of the individual and of the society. The concept has a certain basis in reality since Gotska Sandön moves approximately one meter per year. Fictional expert reports strengthen the surrealistic atmosphere that slowly but surely replaces the experience of what one might first consider a beautiful documentary with a more abstract and somewhat absurd picture of people’s struggle and vulnerability.
Outwardly from Earth’s Center was produced on Gotland in the framework of BAC’s Production-in-Residence program in 2006.
You are a dancer is a radio-play created by Annie Vigier and Franck Apertet (les gens d’Uterpan). It is made up of six sessions that specifically interpret six radio formats (jingle, hit single, report, lesson, reportage, documentary). The content of the sessions exploits the language associated with a choreographer’s work, their protocols of airplay are a response to the standardisation of radio’s mediums of information.
“Using radio we transpose the work and action of the choreographer, by applying his or her injunctions, orders and incitements to the listening audience. The displacement of the choreographer’s authority via the radio involves using the qualities, restrictions and formatting of radio itself. Our strategy thus relies on using the specificity of radio and the choreographer’s authoritative influence on the body in order to make one feel the systems, conditioning and formatting that weigh upon the individual in contemporary society.”
“Our strategy re-visits radio as a source of connection to the world, a vector of knowledge and a democratic medium.
Because it reaches people in their intimate sphere, radio allows us to act without discrimination upon free, anonymous individuals – unlisted and unsolicited – citizens, in the true sense of the term. For us, radio proposes a fundamental way of increasing the social space of performance and the relationships of an individual with other individuals.
You are a dancer proposes a unique relationship among the heads and programmers of radio, the commissioners of the radio-play, artists and the listening audience.”
Within the framework of the residency at the CAC Brétigny (since 2009), the choreographers Annie Vigier and Franck Apertet (les gens d’Uterpan) propose with Pierre Bal-Blanc (director of CAC Brétigny) and Philippe Vannini (president of Aligre FM 93.1), and extension of the exhibition space through the use of radio, lasting one entire year.
Freies Radio Innsbruck FREIRAD, June 6 – Dec 9, 2016.
On invitation by Andrei Siclodi (artistic director Künstlerhaus Büchsenhausen, Innsbruck, Austria) the choreographers Annie Vigier and Franck Apertet (les gens d’Uterpan) propose an extension of the Künstlerhaus’ exhibition space through the use of radio. During six months four sessions will infiltrate the regular program of Freies Radio Innsbruck FREIRAD. The News are recorded in German especially for this occasion. The audience can follow it on MHz in the region around Innsbruck as well as online.
> Jingle: You are a fucking dancer, 4″
> Lesson: 360°, 6′ 15″
> Report: What’s new, 3′ 31″
> Reportage: Let’s get oriented, 8′ 17″
> Documentary: Notation, 29′ 42″
> Hit: Radio skills arouse the idiot tsar, 3′ 35″
Each session aims:
– to be interpreted by the listener, consciously or unconsciously in the context in which he or she finds himself.
– to incite the listener to consider his or her implication in, and relation to society.
– to make the listener consciously react to the systems of authority that structure his or her environment.
Conception: Annie Vigier and Franck Apertet (les gens d’Uterpan)
Recordings and sound design: Nicolas Martz
Texts: Franck Apertet and Annier Vigier
Translations: Dominic Gould
Voices: Franck Apertet, Dominic Gould, Annier Vigier
Contributions: Laurent Seigneur, Davide Napoli
Consultant: Hassane M’Béchour
French translations and recordings: CAC Brétigny
Travelling South is a visual essay composed of stills, found and restaged photographs, and footage taken on the English coast, Elafiti (Croatia) and Gotland (Sweden). Exact geographical locations are not revealed, but are alluded to. There is an actor/protagonist in the film (one character, but represented in two ways: a black and white photograph, and footage of an actor), who has no specific role other than that of a conceptual character who wanders through the space of the film, and across times, sometimes acting as the connecting component between shots, as an underlying constant, in sound terms a repetitive baseline or a chorus.
Photo: Tina Gverović, 2012
Although related directly to the locations, the sound is not descriptive of the visual element and it is produced separately from the film. The sound generally creates the sense of an internal space (or weaving between private, interior, cerebral, bodily space and the outside world of things and people, concrete sounds, concrete realities…), relating to daydreaming, but not ‘dreamy’. There are some slightly ‘psychedelic’ elements to film, in which ‘real’ or figurative images turn abstract, and vice versa.
Film/footage deals with themes of belonging and memory, displacement and imagination. It presents the idea of journeying and travelling south, and attempts to present a method of finding out, of investigation and discovery rather than representation.
The key questions are related to the impossibility of establishing identity on ‘solid grounds’, the lack of which encourages us to relate to various communities which can allow us a certain kind of temporary identity; or which on the other hand allows us to wander in standardized spaces produced by contemporary industries of the imaginary. Can we free ourselves from our heritage arriving at the place where we no longer depend on culturally specific categories/groups that we are born in, with a style of life that through our upbringing is moored in us?
Zaton, Dubrovnik, July 12, 2012
The Paths Crossing Production Residencies hosted twenty young and emerging visual artists and art professionals from new and applicant EU Member States. Coordinated by HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme (FI), the project included the participation of BAC–Baltic Art Center, Visby (SE), Fabrikken for Kunst og Design, Copenhagen (DK), Temple Bar Gallery + Studios, Dublin (IE) and Nordisk Kunstnarsenter Dalsåsen (NO).
The central purpose of this collective endeavor was to discover and support new talent, providing international mobility to visual artists and art professionals from Eastern and Central Europe, and to develop new networks of cooperation with the participating countries. Together the five artist-in-residency centers were able to provide for twenty individual production and research residencies, each from one to six months in duration.
At BAC curator Maija Rudowska worked on the research for her exhibition and publication project, Inside and Out (with Zane Onckule), 2012, Contemporary Art Centre, Riga, Latvia.
Tina Gverović, came to BAC to work on her video project Travelling South, a visual essay composed of stills, found and restaged photographs, and footage, taken on the English coast, Elafiti (Croatia) and Gotland (Sweden).
Read more about Travelling South.
|▴||© Maija Rudowska, "Inside and Out", 2012|