Type of project: public space project
Where: Kalmar konstmuseum, Kalmar, Sweden
07 May–04 September 2011
17 September–20 November 2011
Gustav Hellberg (SE), In Your Head
San Donato Group (Oleg Blyablyas, Aleksey Chebykin, Irina Chesnokova, Evgeny Umansky) (RU)
IKOF / Ingvar Kamprad Order Friendship
Curator: Martin Schibli (SE) Assistants of the Curator: Ola Carlsson (SE)
Organizer: Kalmar konstmuseum, Kalmar, Sweden
Type of project: conference
Where: Ölands Folkhögskola, Kalmar, Sweden
When: 07–08 May 2012
Oscar Guermouche (SE), Gustav Hellberg (SE/GE), Johanna Karlin (SE), Helle Kvamme (SE), Martin Schibli (SE), Łukasz Surowiec (PL), Aneta Szyłak (PL), Vladimir Us (MD), Lars Vilks (SE), Krzysztof Żwirblis (PL), Agnieszka Wołodźko (PL)
Curator: Martin Schibli (SE) Assistants of the Curator: Ola Carlsson (SE)
Organizer: Kalmar konstmuseum, Kalmar, Sweden
Type of project: public space project
Where: various places in Kalmar, Sweden
When: 19 May–19 August 2012
Pawel Althamer (PL), Promień Sońca (Sunbeam)
Karolina Breguła (PL), A city tour with explanation of public art works
Heath Bunting (GB), Lawfull Identities and Tree-climbing workshops
Klas Eriksson (SE), Lost
Gustav Hellberg (SE), Second inauguration of In Your Head
Calle Holck (SE), YOU ARE GREAT
Ingela Ihrman (SE), The Giant Waterlily Victoria Amazonica blossoms
Johanna Karlin (SE), Rudiments in Transformation
Helle Kvamme (SE), The Artists Eye
Emmeli Person(SE), Celebration of the Roundabout
Jörgen Platzer (SE), Vehikel WOL0TFF35W2001259
Anastasia Ryabova (RU), The Object is Under Protection
Greta Weibull (SE), The Jenny Nyström Edition
Krzysztof Żwirblis (PL), Social Museum
Panel discussion speakers:
Heath Bunting (GB), Åsa Elzen (SE/GER), Marina Naprushkina (BY), Stanisław Ruksza (PL), Martin Schibli (SE)
Curator: Martin Schibli (SE) Assistants of the Curator: Emmeli Person (SE)
Organizer: Kalmar konstmuseum, Kalmar, Sweden

Art in public space – whatever that is. Kalmar konstmuseum’s participation in Art Line 2011 to 2012.

Text edited and compiled by Ola Carlsson

The public art projects that Kalmar konstmuseum has collaborated on within the Art Line partnership have been diverse, ranging from installations to workshops and from guided tours to large conferences, but everything was about public art. What has become clear during the course of the work is that the notion of “public” is not very clear cut, nor, naturally, is the notion of public art.

In this text, we will look at some examples of what has been done in Kalmar over the years in relation to art in the public space. These projects represent different ways of viewing what public space is and different ways of working within that space. Descriptions of the individual projects have been left out of this text due to space limitations, but they included Heath Bunting’s Lawful Identities and his tree climbing workshop, Klas Eriksson’s performance Lost, Karolina Breguła’s guided tour of public art in Kalmar, Emmeli Person’s Celebration of the Roundabout, a collaboration between Vladimir Us and Öland’s folkhögskola entitled Not Here, Helle Kvamme’s Konstnärens Öga - Välkommen In, Anastasia Ryabova’s The Object is Under Protection, Jörgen Platzer’s Vehikel WOL0TFF35W2001259, Calle Holck’s YOU ARE GREAT and Greta Weibull’s The Jenny Nystrom Edition. The sheer number of artworks presented, especially during An Exhibition in the Public Space - Whatever that is? offered an incredible opportunity for the community to experience artworks that explored the public space by means of different methods.

Gustav Hellberg (SE), In Your Head
In the spring of 2011, Kalmar konstmuseum held the exhibition The Return of the Losers, which inaugurated Gustav Hellberg’s installation In Your Head, the first of many public pieces to be shown from the Art Line project.

A door is slightly opened with light emitting from it. From the space behind the door, you can hear a male voice in English, with a slight German accent, repeatedly asking the question “Is it safe”?

The artwork is placed in the vicinity of one of Kalmar konstmuseum’s entrances. A segment of the building’s characteristic façade has been dislocated and protrudes half a meter from the wall. In the middle of the segment, there is a door, slightly opened. The door is fixed in position. Right inside, there is an arched wall. Within the space created, fluorescent lights have been mounted that cast an indirect and even light against the wall. There are no shadows or details visible inside the door, making it impossible to guess the size of the room. Within the room, a pair of hidden speakers have also been mounted. A stereo system plays a repeating MP3 audio file. The audio is borrowed from a torture scene from the movie Marathon Man (1976), where the actor Laurence Olivier, with his soft voice and pleasant intonation, repeatedly asks his torture victim, played by Dustin Hoffman, “Is it safe”? The whole scene is used but the audio has been edited so that you can only hear Laurence Olivier’s voice. Sounds from the torture and Hoffman’s answers have been cut out.

The artist portrays a contemporary phenomenon: our having developed common notions about security and safety. We define the sense of security and safety by its absence. We do not want to feel insecure or unsafe. Actual threats to our security or safety are mixed with the fear of eventually being exposed to something unexpected or unwanted. We add to our own fear a collective worry which leads to an extended cycle of apprehension. Primordial and sometimes real fears mix with fictitious ones, and prejudice arises, which, in turn, generates even more insecurity. This is a social progression where human beings, without any apparent self-contemplation or self-criticism, and in conjunction with an arrogant ignorance, have created an introspective, protectionist and thus intolerant view of society. The unknown is dangerous and is observed as a threat. What is it that we are afraid of?

The installation was made as a temporary installation, but Kalmar konstmuseum bought it from the artist after the exhibition, making it a permanent piece and a part of the museum collection. It is now both a public art piece connected to the museum structure and also works as one of many artworks inside the park surrounding Kalmar konstmuseum. It had a second inauguration during the exhibition An Exhibition in the Public Space - Whatever That Is? in 2012.

The San Donato Group (RU),
IKOF/Ingvar Kamprad Order Friendship
As part of the opening of the exhibition A Complicated Relation part II on September 17th 2011, The San Donato Group arranged a free ride from Kalmar konstmuseum to IKEA in Kalmar in a car similar to the one Ingvar Kamprad claims he drives.

By decree of the President of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev, the founder of IKEA Ingvar Kamprad was conferred the Order of Friendship of the Russian Federation for his input in the development of commercial, economic and investment relations between Russia and Sweden.

It was a purposeful decision of the artists to mix different social and cultural meanings in the project, such as the desire of people to possess or use the everyday belongings of celebrities; a juxtaposition of the mass and the unique, the mundane and the sacral through a forced communication between market and museum. One such aspired-for object is the private car of Ingvar Kamprad, a 1993 Volvo 240. The artists and Kalmar konstmuseum sent a purchase request to the IKEA office in Switzerland in order to use the car in a public art project in the entrepreneur’s homeland. Ingvar Kamprad personally replied and stated that even though he was glad the request was sent he definitely wanted to keep the car for himself. An exact copy of the car was bought and is now used in this project.

The project plays on people’s unconscious desire to acquire the qualities of a star through contact with an object belonging to a celebrity. Ingvar Kamprad, one of the most famous natives of the Småland province, is by all means such a person.

According to a long-established Russian tradition, IKEA offers free transfers to its visitors. Similarly, the project authors provided the same shuttle service from the Museum to IKEA and back, in Kamprad’s private car, thus drawing a metaphorical connection between the notions of consumption of culture and the culture of consumption. Each passenger also got one free museum ticket as a bonus as thanks for their participation. The interviews can be viewed online on the Art Line website.

Do We Really Need Another Piece of Public Art?
- Towards a new approach to art in public spaces

In the spring of 2012, Kalmar konstmuseum and Ölands folkhögskola arranged a two-day conference on public art. The conference raised questions regarding art and its relationship with what is called “public space”. There has been huge interest in art in public spaces since the 1990s, and it seems to have been increasing over the last few years. Including temporary public artwork is a standard procedure today for most art biennales or larger exhibitions on contemporary art. We have also seen yearly conferences and increased interest from artists in doing projects in the public space in Sweden and elsewhere. Still, despite this increased interest, it seems to be hard to form a consensus on the fundamental basics of how to approach the process.
Topics addressed at the conference included art projects that work in the public space, the insufficiency of a single definition of the public space when working in different cultural contexts, and different ways to work in the public space based on the application of contemporary theories of art. Most participants came from Sweden and Poland, which yielded different views on the topic. The speakers were artists and people involved in the realization of art projects, such as curators or other cultural producers. Speakers: Oscar Guermouche (SE), Gustav Hellberg (SE/ GE), Johanna Karlin (SE), Helle Kvamme (SE), Martin Schibli (SE), Łukasz Surowiec (PL), Aneta Szyłak (PL), Vladimir Us (MD), Lars Vilks (SE), Krzysztof Żwirblis (PL), Agnieszka Wołodźko (PL).

An Exhibition in the Public Space - Whatever That Is?
An Exhibition in the Public Space - Whatever That Is?, which opened on May 17th 2012, was all about public space. But what is this really? In Sweden, when you discuss public art, you are generally talking about permanent artworks, oftentimes placed outdoors, for example, on roundabouts. But public spaces can also be things like libraries, museums or private shopping malls, or refer to the media and the digital sphere. In what different kinds of conditions will art work in these different circumstances? The exhibition aimed to ask questions about what is possible for art in the public sphere.

Some artworks in the exhibition remained somewhat invisible, and some could hardly be recognized as art. Some only lasted for a couple of minutes, some lasted all summer or lingered even longer. Below you can read about some of the artworks in the exhibition.

A broad notion of public space made the exhibition reach out to more people than most contemporary art exhibitions, and also helped reach people who generally will not visit museums or other art institutions. Sometimes, experiencing public art is something outside the realm of personal choice.

Artists involved: Karolina Breguła (PL), Heath Bunting (UK), Klas Eriksson (SE), Gustav Hellberg (SE), Calle Holck (SE), Ingela Ihrman (SE), Johanna Karlin (SE), Helle Kvamme (SE), Emmeli Person (SE), Jörgen Platzer (SE), Anastasia Ryabova (RU), Vladimir Us (MD), Greta Weibull (SE), Krzysztof Żwirblis (PL).

Ingela Ihrman (SE)
Ingela Ihrman from Kalmar works with questions about human beings’ relationship to nature, the body and the exotic. She contributed to the exhibition in the early summer with a piece about the history of the giant water lily and Skälby Greenhouse. The piece was done as part of her Master’s degree from Konstfack, Stockholm.

The audience was invited to participate and watch two performances in the tropical part of the greenhouse; on Friday night the white water lily bloomed and on Saturday night the flower had turned pink. The head botanist at Skälby greenhouse, Cecilia Kilbride, informed the audience and answered questions about the water lily. The documentation from the performance and a folder named Tropikerna 1-4 remained in the greenhouse for the rest of the summer.

The invitation:
Skälby greenhouse’s tropical department will extend its opening hours to proudly show the giant water lily Victoria’s spectacular nocturnal blooming. The public has the unique opportunity to see a bud develop into a fully blooming flower. On the first night, the water lily is white and fills the air with a sweet exotic scent. On the second night of blooming, the flower has turned a deep pink.

Krzysztof Żwirblis (PL), Social Museum
During the week starting August 12th, the artist Krzysztof Żwirblis’s project involved creating a social museum in the Bergskristallen apartment building in Oxhagen, Kalmar. With the help of a movie and workshops that explored the history of Oxhagen, its residents and their creativity, the artist and his team hoped to establish contact to open up the stories that are hidden inside the walls. The end result was an exhibition and a movie that was shown to the residents of Oxhagen.

Żwirblis calls for everyone to be their own museum. We all tell our own story, a story about what brought us to where we are today. Stories can also express what we choose to surround ourselves with, or what we choose to be clear in our creative expression. These kinds of private and personal expressions are exactly what Żwirblis wants to bring to the public space.

The project finished on August 19th with an exhibition in the backyard of Bergskristallen with objects and creative works that represented the residents’ stories. A movie showing the interviews done during the project was also shown.

Kalmar konstmuseum invited Żwirblis to do his Social Museum in a Swedish context. This is the first time the artist has done something like this outside Poland. The interest from the museum’s perspective, and the exploration of public space, if you will, was about whether you could move such a project to a new context.

Vladimir Us (MD), Björnhovda 36
The work consists of a post box with the names of Viorel, Adrian and Oana printed on it. Viorel, Adrian and Oana are Romanian guest workers who every year spend six to seven seasonal working months in Sweden on the island of Öland. There, they work in a field, preparing it for cultivation. They fallow it and then cultivate strawberries and leeks, harvest them, and, when needed, participate in other agricultural work or help around the farm. Accepting to work for a smaller wage, still much better than what they would get in Romania for the same kind of work, they guarantee the economic success of Swedish agriculture.

Like many other workers (Poles, Slovakians) coming to Sweden, Viorel, Adrian and Oana feel alien, but none of them wants to settle there. Only some seasonal workers manage to integrate, learn Swedish, make friends and eventually get their own household, albeit seasonal, in the country. This can take ten, fifteen or more years. Most of them live in temporary lodgings or in caravans, two or four to a room, with no actual opportunities to set up a more comfortable place for themselves and, in the end, they return to their lives in their own countries, where their children, wives and friends are waiting.

The post box with a real postal address and with the names Viorel, Adrian and Oana printed on it was installed in Färjestaden with the permission of Jörgen Gottfridsson, the owner of the farm where Viorel, Adrian and Oana have been working for several years. It was an attempt to give them a point of reference in Sweden – new coordinates where they can be found or contacted. On the one hand, the post box relates to a steady place that might make them feel better, encouraging them to appropriate the space where they spend half of their lives and to make them get a better perspective and end their nomad life style, enforced on them by unfavourable economic conditions in their place of origin, and making them, at the same time, feel more responsible, likewise towards typically Swedish issues. On the other hand, the project aimed at providing visibility to seasonal workers and their poor working conditions, and at attracting the attention of the local community to their situation.

Viorel, Adrian, Oana
Björnhovdagatan 36
38635 Färjestaden

Johanna Karlin Rudiments in Transformation
Decks of wood were built on three different locations in Kalmar.
The locations were isolated, deserted or in between societal functions. They all took shape in relation to their spaces.

Space 1 – outside the former Rifa factory
A 20m² “island” of wild nature has forced its way through the asphalt, a piece of unpruned landscape.

The caretaker still cuts the grass in the area surrounding the factory, outside the fenced off, typically 1970s factory. There are plans in place to tear down the factory and build a residential area there instead.

A deck was built along the short side of the island. It was adapted to the space’s shape and size and built in an Lshape. It encouraged consideration of the space surrounding it, as well as of the deck itself. A certain confusion arises, as it appears logical, well built, new and recognizable, while, at the same time, it has lost its function as a deck in someone’s home (that holds at least one lounge suite).

Space 2 – The shortcut
Alongside the parking lots close to a sports centre and a residential area, a pathway has been closed off by a strip of grass. The space is not used for anything in particular. Right next to this almost 300m² large “rudiment”, there is a track created as a shortcut by all the pedestrians and bikers in the area.

The deck is six meters long and follows the shortcut’s diagonal angle to the parking lot. The shape looks like a rhombic bridge. The deck does not interfere with the manmade shortcut but sits alongside it. It corresponds well with all typically municipal functions that can be seen in our public environment, like grass planes, asphalt, galvanized steel railings, bushes, signs, fences, parking lots and so on. With its simple “municipal” look, it can almost be seen as something that actually belongs there.

Space 3 – The field
The field, the former pasture and industrial remainder between residential areas and industry was chosen as the third of the places in Johanna Karlin’s project. Within the field, an uneven surface of asphalt has pushed through the vegetation. The surface corresponds with Space 1, but is inverted. Here is an asphalt island on vegetation instead of the other way around. Cars continuously pass by at high speeds, adding the constant noise of traffic. The place is relatively large if you take in all of the field, but the piece of asphalt that pushes through is small, unorganized in shape, surrounded by weeds and close to a romantic tree. This was the smallest deck.

A year later, the field was gone. No romantic tree and no piece of asphalt. Certainly no wooden deck. Yet another parking lot was taking shape. The plans to place the deck there were well grounded, with permission having been obtained from both the municipality and the police, but they never informed the artist about the plans for the space.

“I sincerely hope that my project did not have anything to do with this change.” – Johanna Karlin

Paweł Althamer, Promień Słońca (Sunbeam)
A music video in collaboration with NRM,
Amaroka and Paprika Korps
June 2nd – August 19th, third floor Kalmar konstmuseum realised by Open Art Projects as a part of the 7th Berlin Biennal.

The Polish artist Paweł Althamer, born in 1967, is among the biggest names in contemporary art today. He has participated in several biennials and major exhibitions, including a solo show at Deutsche Guggenheim in Berlin 2012. A significant part of his art practice raises questions that touch on the social interaction between people and what this means for society.

In Minsk, the capital of Belarus, a temporary meeting between a few friends is seen as an illegal assembly. In Minsk, you can end up in jail just because you applaud on the street. In Minsk, the government tries to rigorously control everything. Despite this, 150 people dressed in golden suits marched a few kilometres to welcome the sun. An act that liberated them from fear while walking toward new hope and a better future. The day before the march, bands like Amaroka, Parika Korps and NRM played a concert, during which NRM played a special song written for this project, Igor Znyk. The end result was a music video presented at the exhibition at Kalmar konstmuseum.
Realized by Open Art Projects as a part of the seventh Berlin Biennial.

Coordinator: Magda Materna
Production: Maryna Czplińska and Piotr Klueu
With support from: Erste Bank Stiftung and Kalmar konstmuseum
Special thanks to: Zdravka Bajovic, Pavel Bielawus, Tomek Kaczor, Artur Klinau, Jan Mencwel, Marina Naprushkina, Pit Paulau, Kasia Redzisz, Jan Salewski, Martin Schibli, Michał Szlaga, Vova Tsesler, Igor Znyk, Artur Żmijewski, Darek Żukowski, neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw and Art Siedziba, Minsk.

Finishing words
As the museum continues to work with its regular exhibitions and public art, we take with us what these exercises have taught us from collaborations with artists and art institutions and from the public. Not being closed off by the walls of the museum building, both literary and figuratively, makes Kalmar konstmuseum more interesting and perhaps more unexpected. In public art, the notion of what defines art in the audience changes, just as the audience changes. Perhaps to dismiss an artwork as “just art” becomes impossible when the artworks are created outside the general sphere of art and a general art audience. The uninitiated become at least somewhat initiated, whether they want to or not. In many ways, the notion of what is public is not that clear cut, which we have seen in the artworks, as well. And the museum itself also forms a public space, an important realization for everyone to consider.

Ola Carlsson, creative project manager, Gothenburg, Sweden. In 2011-2012 he worked as a curator, translator, writer, etc. at Kalmar Konstmuseum. Currently, he is a freelancer and project manager (Glasarvet).

Klas Eriksson, Lost, 2012

LOST (2012) Documentation of performance by Klas Eriksson

San Donato group IKOF