This essay by Annica Karlsson Rixon and Anna Viola Hallberg is about their installation project State of Mind. It has been exhibited in Stockholm, S:t Petersburg and Kiev, just to mention some. State of Mind will be exhibited at Y Gallery in Minsk, Belarus in March 2010.
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‘Life itself’ is often imagined in terms of ‘having a direction’, which decides from the present what the future should be. After all, to acquire a direction takes time, even if it feels as if we have always followed one line or another, or as if we ‘began’ and ‘ended’ at the same place. Indeed, it is by following some lines more then others that we might acquire our sense of who it is that we are.
Sara Ahmed Queer Phenomenology. Duke University Press. 2006.
The writing of this text started at the end of July, a few days after installing State of Mind, for the first time, in the context of EuroPride 08 in Stockholm. [Kulturhuset – Stockholm, July 25 – August 25, 2008. State of Mind is exhibited together with Resonanse at ROSPHOTO – the Russian state center of photography in St. Petersburg, September 5 – October 5, 2008. A tour is planned for Kiev and Kharkov, Ukraine in 2009 and then to move onwards.] The setting for this opening forms an accentuated framework for the narrative, it becomes a component of history writing and an illustrative element for media in the reporting on the event focusing on the themes of the festival; “breaking borders” [The theme for EuroPride in Stockholm 2008 is “Swedish Sin, Breaking Borders”.], bridging politics, culture and entertainment.
State of Mind consolidates to a trilogy together with Resonance and Code of Silence. In different ways these lens-based art installations cast light on aspects of socially and culturally constructed identity-based groups in contemporary society. Photography and video are used in combination to expand on the separate histories of the two media with regard to interviews and portraits in documentary genres. This is the point of departure for all three installations. As for the overall narrative, the topics of how and why different groupings construct networks and communities in order to achieve a sense of belonging are in focus, as well as the conditions and necessities for forming the community. The projects look at the social conventions family, love and career, dealing with power relations such as gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and class. The method of collecting the material in fieldwork is similar in the three projects, but the questions asked and issues raised are specific to each segment of the installations. Portraiture and personally based stories are central. The trilogy is presented as three separate art installations, which co-exist and cross-inform each other. They reflect upon civil rights issues and the idea of being safe and productive within society, working in the space between personal choice and social expectations. Memory, narration, visual representation and oral history are central. In each of the three works a different group is approached that relates to the artists’ personal lives. Resonance [Resonance was exhibited at Norrköping Art Museum, Göteborgs Konsthall and Uppsala Museum of Art during 2006-2007.], our first collaboration, is based on a network of peers belonging to a successful generation of artists and curators. They are all women who made an entrance onto the Swedish and Danish art scene in the 1990´s, and now have international careers. On one level Resonance is an examination of the Scandinavian welfare state, and in more specific terms, the impact of the conditions it creates for the portrayed women to make it on the art scene. In Code of Silence [Code of Silence will be ready to be launched in 2009.] this is a sibling group of five who grew up on a small farm in rural Gothenburg, Sweden. The farm had to face the challenge of major cultural reforms in the nineteenth century, but remained intact. It became a target for expropriation during the 1950´s and 70´s to make way for the reforms involved in building the modern Sweden. Hence, it remained an object of possible interest for the national cultural heritage. The farm was finally demolished in 2004. Code of Silence is based on oral history, memories told by the siblings infringing the UN’s Declaration of Human Rights paragraph 17 relating to everyone’s right to a home. In addition this installation includes a large number of private and official documents such as hand-written wills, receipts from selling milk, and letters to the King of Sweden. State of Mind explores everyday life and the boundaries between ethics, legislation, prejudice and civic expectations in the LGBTQ [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer] life of St. Petersburg, Russia. It emphasizes individuals identifying as lesbians or bisexual women.