Södertälje Konsthall

Södertälje Konsthall

Texter

Frail Liberation: Interviews
Av Södertälje konsthall

Frail Liberation: Interviews
Av Södertälje konsthall

Frail Liberation: Interviews
Av Södertälje konsthall

Frail Liberation: Interviews
Av Södertälje konsthall

Frail Liberation: Interviews
Av Södertälje konsthall

Frail Liberation: Interviews
Av Södertälje konsthall

Frail Liberation: Interviews
Av Södertälje konsthall

Texter

Frail Liberation: Interviews
Av Södertälje konsthall

Ingela Johansson
What are your thoughts on participating in Frail Liberation?

Several exhibitions that were made during this spring expressed a feeling of collective powerlessness, grief, melancholy, perishability or new ways of rethinking the art field organizationally, thematically and under threat of both a pandemic and a climate crisis. Frail Liberation is in line with these initiatives.

Now, when we are in the aftermath of the first chock and the world is facing a second Covid 19 wave, we have started to come to terms with the fact that we are entering a new phase in the history of mankind where we all need to take into consideration the fact that the conditions of the pandemic are becoming constant, and we have learnt that if this change is not sustained another reality will take hold. BLM created a desire to build something lasting, politically, socially and ethically, a society built upon equality through learning from history. Existential subject matters where brought forth: What is going to happen to us? Has history come to an end? How can we re-programme the art sector? And how can our existence as mankind be sustained and brought into a hope where the function of the arts could contribute to making the world more inclusive in relation to animals, nature and in a way that once and for all puts an end to the colonial project in the era of the Anthropocene. The pandemic and the climate crisis have raised an interest in time frames and in the concept deep time, the philosophical concept of a geological time and a timeframe of the earth that does not include the human being. We perceive animals and nature as something separate from us, but in reality, they uphold the primal stage, what that was there from the very outset.

This exhibition differs a bit from the other works that artists have made during the pandemic as it is also shows artworks that were made prior to the pandemic, as Jani Ruscica’s Batbox/Beatbox from 2007. My work Voice was made for my solo exhibition Where Shall We Adventure? In Södertälje konsthall that will be shown this fall but that became charged with new meaning because of the current societal conditions. The work was all of a sudden in the midst of an unfolding catastrophe, and the discussions that took place and are still ongoing are partly relating to wearing a mask. These incidents have therefore reformulated the initial meaning of the work and is now pointing more directly towards aspects of perishability. The works has helped me channel some layers of society’s complexity in the human-nature-capitalism relationship, and how these subject matters relate the uprising of neofascism.

What is the work about?

The inspiration for the work Voice was a drawing by Peter Weiss, Parade (1945) that is part of the art collection of Södertälje municipality. The drawing was part of Peter’s extensive solo show in Södertälje konsthall in 1976. In the 80’s, after Peter’s death, the drawing was copied into a wall décor, an initiative of Södertälje konsthall director at the time, Per Drougge. This was done because Peter once had an intention of creating a monumental work from the drawing, an idea that he later discarded. The wall décor is still found in a cultural center called Allaktivitetshuset in Södertälje.

In the image two nightmarish figures are depicted, one is an eaglelike creature. The title Parade alludes to a gesamtkunstwerk, a collective work by Pablo Picasso, Eric Satie and Jean Cocteau, a Russian ballet with the same title from 1916-17. Peter’s Parade consists of 18 figures that portray the idea of a world stage with a theme concerning the dance of death. Peter was inspired by the imagery of Hieronymus Bosch and the evangelist symbols like the lion, the eagle and the ox. I have taken this further by interpreting the drawing and I have had a mask made with inspiration from these nightmarish creatures and surrealism, but with an updated thought that deals with the human relationship to the non-human in the light of the Anthropocene.

The mask is something we can all hide behind, it has always been part of many different cultures and civilizations, used as a tool to keep oral histories alive through allegories. The mask represents the relationship between the inner psyche and outer nature and so on. When I made this work, I also had an interest in exploring and processing forms of materiality from the world of theatre, tinted by the memories of the high-quality childhood plays like “Ika I Rutan” and the puppet theatre productions by Byteatern, playing Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt.

In my video Voice the mask is activated by a dancer and there is a tension rising between the nature, the eagle, and the embodiment of the dancer.

Rami Khoury
What are your thoughts on participating in Frail Liberation?

Being part of an exhibition that is very relevant to the current reality, staying in the countryside in the island of Öland and having a workshop in an inspiring atmosphere away from the hustle of the city and its complexities was a great motivation to develop a new body of works and helped seeing nowadays events from different perspectives, it led to producing a group of works that are connected to unstable situation we are experiencing at the time being. In addition to the experimental part, it was very beneficial and came out with exquisite satisfying results.

What is the work about?

At the time of epidemic and the subsequent lifestyle, comes a new group of work to highlight some new multi-meaning terms and express controversial living habits we have been forced to follow.

Isolation, separation, “social” distancing, segregation… have been practiced, willingly or not. How come are these life “activities” becoming highly recommended, normalized and preferred?! Keep distance, stay away from others… un-socialize. stay home, regardless of the meaning of home or if “staying” is optional or available in the first place, a “home” swings between being the comfy stay and a protection dungeon. Either warm, crowded, isolated, spacious, dull, cozy, liberated or shut-in, just stay in and act normal.

Monotonous, tiresome blocks of clay representing the place we stay in. Fragile ceramic houses in black or white evoking the contradictions of our feeling while we suffer to stay “alive”

TWINS. Two identical portraits with opposite colors, paradoxically similar reflecting our internal conflict, pointing out the similarity despite the difference in shape and color. Two faces mirroring “serenity” with pale features and closed eyes!

Nkuli Mlangeni Berg
What are your thoughts on participating in Frail Liberation? 

It’s an exciting opportunity for me and feels like a new chapter because in the past when I’ve participated in exhibitions in Sweden I was not living here, and I have now been a resident officially since March. I am also at a point where I am re-evaluating a lot of things in relation to my work and this new place, I now call home and so being invited to participate in the exhibition has been the right space and time for me to begin that exploration.

Could you tell us something about your work for the exhibition?

The last few months have been a lot about reflecting on the current times we live, what’s happening in the world and what we stand for as a people. When making the pieces I had a lot of thoughts and spoke to friends about the images of violence that we’ve been seeing in the mainstream of black people being murdered and the kind of trauma that they trigger in us and the need to find healing and not be so paralyzed by it. And as someone who is working within the textile space, I’m also triggered a lot by the destruction of the textile industry, the mass production, consuming and racism within that space. And so, I worked with those two subjects as a starting point towards finding some sort of healing. And the making process itself has been a kind of therapy for me and a sort of reclaiming.

Jani Ruscica
What are your thoughts on participating in Frail Liberation?

In a moment when all activities are veiled in such uncertainty, it feels particularly meaningful to participate in an exhibition, but especially in one that also attempts addressing the multitude or complexity of current events. Everyone seems a bit lost, as if waiting, but for what? As if the pandemic was currently the only problem we are facing as humanity, the current situation just seems to underline or make more palpable how much is unresolved, unbalanced and unsustainable in our lives. Perhaps we just have more time to think?

I think Batbox/Beatbox highlights some of these feelings too, in a subtle way, through its depictions of processes of communication. The piece was born out of an interest in sound and its capacity to act as a navigational tool, seen In Batbox, the first take as a biological phenomenon (bats echolocation) and in Beatbox, the alternate take seen as a sociocultural phenomenon (subculture).

In finding parallels between the two manifestations of the same phenomena sound replaces sight as the primary sensory mode of perception. Therefore, the piece is as much a sound piece as it is a video, and I think, in shifting this focus it also highlights one’s position as spectator or observer, ones limited ability to see, both literally as well as conceptually.

What is the work about?

Both parts of the diptych were very collaborative in their making. In Batbox I worked closely with bat researchers from the Bristol University in the UK, they introduced me to the natural habitats of bats as well as the processes of echolocation. All of Beatbox was improvised too, written and performed by the New York based beatboxers, spoken word artists and break-dancers involved. It was interesting to observe and document how a real sense of community emerged, the understanding of a shared vocabulary, a language.