two drawings, graphite pencil on paper, 28×21 cms
Finally, we did it!
Playing with light and shadow has been a theme in my work since many years now… and while I was doing the Passage Room at Satan’s Democracy, long-time friend and colleague Lena Strand came up with the idea to bring our knowledge and spirits together in a jam session on light… Wow!
We both knew we just had to do it… only, it took a while until it actually happened. But finally, on the 3rd of January 2017, we met in Lokstallet, Gnesta – a 19th century railway engine house, now hosting a local theatre. I brought my 2 x 1,5 metres connectable wooden frames, together with some twelve meters of thin silk fabric. Lena brought an overhead projector, two diapositive slide projectors, a roll of stage lighting filters… and two of her former students, Maria and Daniella. What a surprise! They, in turn, had rope, glassware, paper, torchlights… and so, our Light Jam could begin.
Through four days, we explored light in various modes, from the first winter morning sunrays penetrating the room horizontally, casting coloured shades to slowly wander over the walls, to patterns of transparent glass objects projected on screens, and our own shadows double-exposed in a maze of framed silk. Here’s the story in photos:
Day 1 and 2.
Lena and I are the first ones to show up. Lena prepares a paper with some lighting filters, and the pale winter sun graciously plays the role of the spotlight, shining in through the glassed entrance windows. Lena catches the coloured dots on a silk banner, I try to grasp them with my hands… When the sun passes around the corner, Maria arrives. For the first day, there’s only the three of us. The next day, Daniella is also with us. Daniella, Maria and I all meet here for the first time – Lena is the only one who knows everybody before. So, it’s a process of getting to know each others, as well as the space and the materials. We interweave the handling of objects with sharing earlier experiences of process work and improvisation, and our proposals for now. Everything is very casual, and very serious. We go out for lunch, then set up the dia projector and arrange a couple of transparent screens to play with shadows.
Clear sky again. In addition to yesterday’s colour dots projected into the theatre space, I want to try a two-direction setup; I cover some of the glass panes with lighting filters. When dusk falls, I will be able to use the theatre’s spotlights to project outwards, where untouched snow provides a large white screen. Glass items on the overhead projector produce stunning patterns. Dark, thinly woven fabric covers the long walls to improve acoustics; they also serve to doubling up and distorting the projections, amazing! Lena uses ropes to visualize a process of divergence and convergence… This is actually what we’re continuously practicing here; defining our starting points, then trying out ideas individually or in flexible constellations, then gathering for sharing and reflecting – and for long lunches! Then redefining, and starting over – converging, diverging, converging… Like breathing.
We start talking about how to present our work – tomorrow, we have announced an Open House event for a couple of hours. After a full day’s work, I’m vivified and content. For tomorrow, I’m packing some tools, a silk painting, and a set of diapositives from the 1970’s for the projector…
During the first hour, I’m alone in the room. The morning sun treats me an exuberant light show… Lena enters to see the finale.
The idea of diverging and converging becomes the organizing concept for our presentation; visitors will be led between the wall and the acoustic curtain to the very back of the room, guided by a light trail; a narrow corridor, but not claustrophobic thanks to the transparency of the fabric. From the end of the tunnel, they will find different paths back to the entrance/exit door, while experiencing and experimenting with the different set-ups: the overhead projector, where objects could be altered, exchanged and moved around to change the projected patterns; a semi-transparent film screen (a large piece of cheap paper, really), showing a video compilation from days 2 and 3; the labyrinth of coloured silk screens for shadowplay, leading up to the red and blue silk painting; the two dia projectors, whimsically showing superimposed pictures of traditional Canarian crafts and paintings by Cézanne and Picasso, mixed with lighting filter monochromes… free to play with. Daniella couldn’t be with us this last day, but we implemented her concept of hanging ropes in the shape of a tree trunk, to cast shadows. Torchlights proved very useful here!
We were happy to have a number of visitors – some of them skilled professionals in colour design and light techniques, others just curious in the most delightful way…
And the day after… Light Jam finished; taking things down, packing, withdrawing. The light will stay, increasing by minutes every day… for a while.
So, this is it, for now (and the actual measure of the painted surface is 61,8 x 20,3 cms, to be truthful). TBC.
painting 21×63 cms,
charcoal, leaf silver, oil paint and blackboard paint on wood panel;
five subsequent stages
November came and went… I got a few days in the studio, but most of the time was spent carrying out commissions in nearby city Södertälje and rural village Gnesta. First, I did this Dreams workshop at Södertälje konsthall – together with curator-educator Sarah Guarino Florén – where partaking teenagers shared daydreams and night dreams, making conceptual self portraits (a homage to contemporary artist Anna Sörenson!) and a huge, gold-laced dream catcher…
Dream workshop with secondary school students at Södertälje konsthall; photo HHW.
…and then, I suddenly found myself being the organizer of a very unique event in Gnesta: the world premiere of True Intention, a short documentary film by Ronnit Hasson about branding artist Linda Nordfors and Art Agency Reflection Company. This came about because of my involvement with Långsjö teater – a regional theatre group in Gnesta, the village close to my homeplace where also Ronnit and Linda are based. My undertaking at the theatre is to develop the Artist-in-Residence and community work… and, well – this was a collaboration too appealing not to explore…
True Intention invites us to follow an art project with focus on sustainability; the artist reflects upon and re-interprets the brand of BillerudKorsnäs – a leading paper packaging and pulp company. Linda’s response comes out as the ingenious design of a series of objects such as fashion dresses, director’s chairs, a history cabinet and pine tree trunks – all made from various kinds of paper. The artefacts end up forming a pedagogical space at the Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology… and the BillerudKorsnäs staff are left with new ideas about sustainability, innovation and corporate identity.
The film documentary mirrors this fascinating hybrid process, mapping out a place where sustainable innovation, philosophy, enterprise and pedagogy fuses into art. But that’s just half the story; while realizing her project, Linda engages a number of local entrepreneurs, job seekers, trainees and craftspeople in Gnesta.
And so, it made a lot of sense to launch the premiere right here. We set the date to Sunday, November 20th… and, to really make a statement, we decided to have two screenings, each followed by a panel discussion; the first one on Cultivating Sustainability by Enterprise, and the second on Cultivating Sustainability by Art. From the day the idea arose, we had little more than three weeks to realize the project. And we did it!
Here’s a few photos from the double event – the first screening at local cinema Elektron, featuring Linda and Ronnit together with councillor Johan Rocklind (municipality of Gnesta), Daniel Lundqvist (NAV Sweden), Gustav Edman (Fabel Kommunikation) and Emilia Rekestad (REALS), moderated by cultural advisor Carina Nilsson (municipality of Gnesta); and the second one at Långsjö teater matching the artists with Magdi Beky Winnerstam (artistic director at Långsjö teater), Anna Emmelin (Albaeco), artist and curator Paula von Seth, and cultural advisor Carina Nilsson (here representing the municipality), with myself moderating…
All event photos by Artur Kowalski. And many, many thanks to everyone involved!
Cultivating Sustainability by Enterprise; panel discussion at cinema Elektron.
Cultivating Sustainability by Art; panel discussion at Långsjö Teater.
Good collaborations are truly nourishing. Which was my good luck, by the way… because on the very next day (hardly having slept), I plunged into another workshop at Södertälje konsthall. Once more, I had the pleasure to team up with Sarah Guarino Florén – gracefully improvising together, on the firm ground of embodied knowledge. This week, our coworkers were fifth-graders and the workshop theme was Words and Images. We put forward the task of re-inventing language – without letters! – and gathered inspiration from emojis, roadsigns, Chinese characters and Bliss symbols… and Rudyard Kipling’s story How the First Letter Was Written. The response was immediate; not one single kid sidestepped the challenge. Through the week, we read dozens and dozens of inventive messages about pets and Christmas wishes, vacation trips, parents fleeing from war zones, love for family and friends and a mother falling ill… Their creativity was impressive, but even more so was the sincereness; both in writing, and in reading each others’ scripts.
Words and Images workshop – lunch break, tracks remaining; photo HHW.
In all of this, I did find some time for painting and a project of my own; but that’s quite another story…
Posted in art, recent work, time-out | Tagged Anna Emmelin, Anna Sörenson, art, Art Agency Reflection Company, arts and crafts, Artur Kowalski, BillerudKorsnäs, Bliss symbols, Daniel Lundqvist, documentary film, Gnesta, Gnesta kommun, Gustav Edman, Johan Rocklind, Långsjö teater, Linda Nordfors, Magdi Beky Winnerstam, Paula von Seth, Ronnit Hasson, Sarah Guarino Florén, Södertälje konsthall, Swedish National Museum of Science and Technology, True Intention | Leave a Comment »
…and now that my contribution to Satan’s Delirium is up and running with the rest, it’s time for me to land in the studio again. Had scheduled this October mainly for printmaking, but sadly, the graphic department at the Royal Institute of Art suffered from a devastating fire some weeks ago. No person hurt, but dire material damages – above all, a number of students lost all of their works – and since then, the building isn’t safe and nobody is allowed into the workshops except for carpenters and construction workers.
Graphic department at the Royal Institute of Art, september 21st, 2016.
Photo: Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå (TT)
So, serious shit did happen at the RIA. But I was lucky not to have too much stored in those workshops. I can just stay home and take up painting where I left it in September… a very suitable option, in fact.