Posts Tagged 'literature'

Put the light out, erase a line

Trial and Error, Stockholm – The Stockholm Pride Festival 2007 has offered many things. The media, for example, still exclusivly focus on the flamboyant part of the gay community, all political parties (except for the christian conservatives) have competed in Pride exposure, and there has been a very good artist run exhibition.

Lord Peter Wright once wrote about the Swedes ”…they have an intonation which makes everything come out flat and boring; rather like Sweden, in fact.” This is one of the things the Swedish people is most afraid of – that we might be too square, and that other countries are funnier. With this in mind, it is not so strange that all the politicians has now been competing for exposure in the colorful Pride context. As long as it is cute and harmless, The Fab 5 glamour is very welcome in Sweden and that part of the non-heterosexual community has for a long time been the main focus in our media.

One recent reaction to this media focus is the book ”Bögjävlar” (approximately ”Gay bastards”), written by five gay men. ”The media has decided to portray the helpful gay as a service institution for the straight sociaty” one of the authors explains. The book and their blog aim to constitute a counter weight to that cliché.
”Bögjävlar” was published just before the Stockholm Pride Festival. The festival has traditionally been focused on gay rights and partying while contemporary art has been absent. But this year, an international contemporary art show has been initiated by two artists: Malin Arnell (curator) and Stefan Forss (working with the artist run gallery Studio 44). The exhibition was named ”PUT THE LIGHT OUT, ERASE A LINE” and, together with performances and a video screening, included twentyeight art works.

Malin Arnell choses not to call the show a queer exhibition, and writes in her statement ”in the exhibition /…/ we meet a number of artists that in different ways, momentarily, act entirely on their own terms”.

I especially want to mention two of the projects that I include with images:
Kajsa Dahlbergs project ”A Room of One’s Own / A Thousand Libraries” is a compilation of marginal notes made by readers in one thousand library copies of ”A Room of One’s Own” by Virginia Wolf.
And Malin Arnell had a performance on the opening night, standing on a stool against the wall. Three members of the audience used four rolls of duct tape to fix her to that wall and then the stool was removed while Arnell was left hanging . The peice was named ”A better view”.

Read more about the exhibition at gallery Studio 44’s webpage >>

The Art Space Race

Trial and Error, San Francisco – When walking in downtown San Francisco we pass Frey Norris Gallery. The current exhibition is entitled ”American Debut” and shows paintings by Zhong Biao. The subtitle reads: ”First ever American solo exhibition for internationally recognized Chinese artist”. We look at the large scale, skilled paintings and discuss the ever increasing interest for contemporary Chinese art in the West (for example the exhibition ”Made in China” that opened in March at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark).

Then the conversation inevitably touches the subject that next year one million new artists will graduate i China. One million! The number has been mentioned in different contexts (by Chinese art students in Sweden for instance) and even if it includes crafts and design, the amount is still bewildering.

In ”The unparallelled invasion” by Jack London, China starts to conquer the world in 1970 ”with all the certainty and terrifying slow momentum of a glacier”. The mere size of the population made it possible to devour any country and any army. In the rather rasist short story, Europe and the US meet the threat from the east in a joint effort by bombing China with all the diseases that western laboratories have been able to manufacture. Jack London, who published the story in 1914, much cherished the new technology but he had a gross view of how it could be used.

We have a more positive view of China’s ”invasion” though, and have a proposal for a degree project for next years one million new Chinese artists – whicht would also coincide with the Olympic Games 2008:
Each student will make an art piece that measures 12.8 meters. The host country could then encircle the entire globe in what would be the longest Chinese monument so far, and thus underline the motto for the next Olympic Games:

Or why not reach for the moon in an Art Space Race?
In 1967 it was decided that space belongs to mankind (”The Outer Space Treaty”) and should not be used for commercial or military purposes. But since then we have distanced ourselves from that position. Commercials encourages us to name stars after our loved ones and nations leer at the possible resources on the moon. America decleares in the ”US Space Com Vision for 2020” their goal to be “dominating the space dimension of military operations to protect US interests and investment” and “integrating Space Forces into warfighting capabilities across the full spectrum of conflict”.
It is about 4000 years since the tower of Babel was ruined but since then we have developed more advanced technique. It is no more than 384 000 kilometers to the moon. If divided among the Chinese graduates of 2008, that makes less than 390 meters per student. The Chinese space program intend to land a mooncar on the moon in 2012, lets say that one million artists are examinated in the same rate untill then, that would make a total of six million new artists devoted to the Art Space Race – and only 64 meter of art per student to reach the moon!

Since outer space cannot be claimed as national territory, the Chinese atists would not be subject to Chinese law (or reached by Google censorship for that matter). Maybe in a near future the Olympic Games could be located on the moon (as above envisioned by NASA) – on truly neutral ground?

Thanks to artist Anders Widoff who first informed us of the one million new Chinse artists.
Paintings by Zhong Biao from
More about ”American Debut”:

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