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Gnesta Watertower, Saturday morning, September 23rd; all photos HHW.

Are we all set? Yes! Ok, let’s turn on the lights and open to the public… Here’s Resonance Jam #2. Welcome!

Shades of blue, orange and yellow blending into each other. Bells clanging – sometimes loud, sometimes barely audible. Shadows playing on the walls; reaching all the way up to the ceiling, then quickly diminishing as visitors move around. Reflections from the handmirrors wandering like moons over soft horizons.


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In the afternoon, Julia’s friend Karin shows up. She climbs the stairs quietly and vanishes without anybody noticing. Then her voice comes back to us, expanding to fill the whole tower as she sings us a ‘kulning’ – an ancient herding call, intense and rich in half- and quarter-tones. Originally sung in mountains and forests, the kulning was often echoed over large distances and accompanied by the bells of home-coming cattle. Here, somebody occasionally touches the floating bells, and the octagonal space provides a very characteristic echo… As Karin ceases to sing, a mellow, saturated silence arises. It grows and stays; a moment of rapture, carried out of time. Slowly, we return to ourselves, hoping for more. Nothing happens for a while. Then, when all our expectations have finally dissolved into thin air, Karin takes up a blue and haunting note to give us another improvised session.

Here you can hear Karin Lindström Kolterud performing her ‘kulning’ at Resonance Jam #2:
Kularkraft

The very last guests to arrive – as the tower is already emptying – is a small family, two young brothers and their parents. Peaceful joy reverberates within.

Many thanks to the Water Tower Society for inviting us, for facilitating, documenting and for cinnamon buns; to Karin for the kulning; and to each and everyone who joined us for Resonance Jam #2!

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Björkbom Vattentornet
Gnesta Watertower; photo Bengt Björkbom

So, here’s the old Watertower of Gnesta. Built in 1913, today no longer in use – but occasionally open for events, and carefully maintained by a local society of dedicated people… who gracefully invited Julia Adzuki and me to play along a bit more. We happily accepted – of course – and brought our materials to this amazing space for Resonance Jam #2.

At ground level, the ceiling is barely visible; lost in shadows some twelve or fourteen metres above one’s head. The empty water tank is still higher up, and so is the topmost, hidden space… A wooden staircase is spiralling upwards along the octagonal wall. As the space so strongly accentuates verticality, we decided to address it by constructing mobiles to let the bells and silk float… A tribute also to the idea of water. And light projected upwards, maybe?

Bells, feathers, wire, silk, rope, metal tubes, masking tape, spotlights, light filters, mirrors… And what about little handheld mirrors, Julia suggests – to echo the torchlights that were handed out to visitors in the Resonance Jam #1? Yes, but where to find them..?

Drilling and fastening. Attaching wires and doubling them for safety. Adjusting and fixing weights. Climbing the staircase, tying ropes, hoisting and lowering. Stitching fabric and ironing. During these days of preparation, a saying from the ancient Chinese Book of Changes – the I Ching – comes to my mind more than once; at the very moment when all elements in a process are in accordance with dao, “everything acts to further”. This seems to be the case here – despite any clumsiness or confusion, we stumble into functionality and beauty time and over again.

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Saturday morning. Soon the public will arrive… Sun is already sneaking in. Checklist: sweep floor, turn on lighting, place torchlights by the entrance. Breathe. Open doors!

One minute later, first visitor peeps in; frowns, turns around, tells friend outside: I’m not going in here! and leaves quickly. Hmmm. Is this what it’s going to be like? Are we too obscure? Will the texts – with their subjects of time, death and space – be perceived as smugly esoteric and/or provocative? Will this whole thing just turn people off?

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Next guest enters, and is provided with a torchlight. He spends quite some time moving around, observing, playing the bells, reading texts… then generously shares his thoughts with me and Julia before leaving. Now, that was comforting!

Hours later, we are convinced that the system is functional; Julia and I actually feel like we are the audience, as we benefit from the visitors’ performances and feedback! The space resonates with sound, light and materiality, with body movements, interactions and close attention, emotions and serious thoughts… Saturday afternoon, Julia finally lits the overhead projector – and of course, here is the place to acknowledge Lena Strand and my other Light Jam colleagues!

Our yellow portal is now working both ways. One lady even seems to have vanished into another dimension, leaving only her shoes behind.

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Sunday morning, I sweep the floor once more, and open doors for the second and last day. Many of our Sunday visitors are very young, and the space adapts to even more versatile conditions.

By 5.30 pm on Sunday, door closes behind our last guest and we begin to dismantle the whole system of resonating bodies before cleaning up.

A deep-felt Thank You to Långsjö teater for providing the space; to each one of our guests for shared joy and valuable feedback; to Esmilda for professional input and Patrick for all kinds of support; to Lena Oja for the grand feast; and of course, to Julia Adzuki with whom collaborating is as rewarding as it is easy…

We draw to a close, in order to make a new opening.

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170830 03bMorning sun sheds its light through coloured glass panes; the lense of the overhead projector captures it and projects backwards.

Hooks are attached, bells and silk pieces placed, and the sound of the bell clappers is softened by rubber lining. Very consciously, we try to avoid every set-up that suggests a centre or certain symmetry axes – instead, we wish to encourage diffusion and interferences, a recurrent loss of balance which keeps you going…

Next, we begin to play with lighting, and the light pillars get a footing of salt.

Eight of my meditation texts* are written in silver on round-cut indigo cardboards and posted on the walls behind the dark blue acoustic curtains, visible only by torchlight; Julia’s texts appear on tarot-like cards along with a calabash stethoscope.

It’s getting late. Things are coming together, but still the silk needs some ironing before we open to the public tomorrow…

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 (all photos: HHW.)

*selected from the “uncategorized” category at this site.

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Throughout this year, I find myself trying out something – a method, of sorts. From the mid-winter LightJam – a brilliant concept coined by my long-time friend Lena Strand – to a brief ArtJam c/o Satan’s Democracy in spring. Now that summer is slowly withdrawing, I’m back at Långsjö Teater – playing a ResonanceJam together with much-appreciated colleague Julia Adzuki…

I can’t find any better words than ‘pure joy’ to describe this work. We bring various materials – home-built bells, feathers, thin silk, copper tubes, a tanned cowhide – which resonate with light and sound. We combine and move them around in seemingly random ways, and the resonance deepens. We have another week to go; next Friday, the public will be invited to take part. Julia’s daughter suggests a portal opening into a yellow place, and we realize that it’s already present… The cowhide, stretched over a metal frame, is a membrane and a portal transmitting light.

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(all photos: HHW.)

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

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oil paint on canvas, 200 x 200 cms; five subsequent stages, February – April 2017

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170227; graphite pencil on paper, 21×28 cms

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