“It’s a festival. The whole point is to be drunk and obnoxious”
a friend told me after we returned from Gagnef Festival to the reality of urban Stockholm. Of course I felt the difference between the flush of the festival and the more settled / stable life (or whatever you may call that life) back in the city, too – but I had difficulties with this formulation.
What was the flush, the intoxication that I experienced at Gagnef Festival? It was not the fact that one could be drunk for three days in a row. No, it was definitely more. Much more. Trying to grasp the feeling I shared with other happy Gagnef visitors I can say that it was composed by a variety of different ingredients. First of all, hell yeah – we had stunning weather! It was non-stop sunshine (well of course at night the sun wasn’t burning on your sweaty skin anymore but to be honest it was “dark” for the maximum of 3 hours I would say). No rain drops, just beautiful sunshine which made it perfect bathing weather. The magic of the river and seriously the whole Swedish landscape of Dalarna in general makes the place where the Skankaloss Festival (just referred to as Gagnef festival as it is located in Gagnef) an enchanted place. Sure, through my German eyes there might always be a touch of Bullerby-Syndrom that paints the Swedish landscape in even prettier colours but for real: it is gorgeous in that area!
As most of Gagnef’s party guests come from the big cities Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö they can all experience the beautiful way by train or car to the festival where you see nothing but woods, fields, sparkling rivers, flowers, some midsummer poles and wooden horses. It has a touch of a summer camp where all the city kids can hang out in nature for a weekend and just let go of the day-to-day business.
The festival areal is a place not too small and not too big – with a million things to discover. One of the main stages in built in front of the river so you see the water dancing and sparkling behind the bands while you can dance on the stairs of a wooden amphitheater. The other stages are a hidden cave that was covered in pink smoke the first time I found it and a arena that feels like the ring of a circus where all the wild ponies are getting ready to show their most beautiful steps. In various places at the water where people can jump in the water or in the fields and bushes sit DJs and produce various kinds of music. Different artists, such as Stine Marie Jacobsen (who we also interviewed for SlashMuse Magazine) or Martin Olsson and Linn Granlund participated with inspiring art work and you can find a sauna as well as great food such as Oysters or Jamaican Cuisine, which makes the Skankaloss Festival a complete little cosmos.
If you want to take a break from the different kinds of music, from which Ryley Walker, Tami Tamaki and Zhala were clearly our highlights, you can participate in the Tennis tournament “Gagnef Open”, watch the long board competition or the skaters at the half pipe on the festival areal.
All these aspects make Gagnef such a magical place – it’s the holistic world that is created. People with weak nerves and a giant hangover should better not go to the long board competition as it simply takes your breath away every time they speed around the corner, a shy person will perhaps not enjoy the sauna as much as I can guarantee you to make new friends there who will convince you to jump naked on the big wooden swing that catapults you into the fresh cold river – but hej it’s only once a year and maybe the whole point of a festival is not to be drunk and obnoxious but just to be courageous and free. Gagnef is a great place for that! Our favorite Swedish Festival.
Stine Marie Jacobsen is a bright inspiring artist from Denmark. Performance, video, photo and film compose her complex work:
/ How would you finish these sentences, Stine?
▽ In these times of text compression and over-flow of Top 10 to 25 lists…but ok here we go (laughs)
Children should always believe …. and not loose faith in magic, love and themselves.
The darkest colour is…. the one you can imagine but not depict.
If you touch a butterfly … and inhale the dust you stole from it, you will for a brief moment become the saddest person alive.
Nothing is more powerful than … working together.
/ We came across your work through the Skankaloss Festival in Gagnef, Sweden. In which way were you involved as an artist?
▽ I was invited to do a work for the festival and made a performative intervention in the form of five posters and actions called “Sensitive Observers”.
/ Can you elaborate on your work at the Festival setting, please?
▽ The posters each had an informational instruction which a group of performers were hired to do at the festival. The poster sentences are written in white text on dark green backgrounds, reminding one of chalk on a school board and were hung in trees around the festival near the designated areas: concert stage, bar, sauna, art work and forest.
The five sentences were: “In the sauna someone is hired to talk about a movie”, “Look to your right A Man is paid to watch you”, “At this bar a person is instructed to give someone a compliment”, “Someone will say something untrue about Gabriel Lester” and “Near this sign someone will tell a rumor”.
The posters are working around how language as narrative, rumor, myth or stories disseminates and changes when passing through one or more bodies to a percipient. The posters are reminders of human and corporate communication systems. They reflect what I feel is being done to me. In “Sensitive Observers”, a small part of the “impossible-to-capture-whole” was revealed on the posters. The performers who implemented the different actions and stories and the audience who might have experienced the posters are now vessels who in their collectivity contain the work. I hope the owl turned into a cat** at the festival, but sometimes you do need more time to do that kind of magic.
/ Is it the first time you worked with the Skankaloss Festival?
▽ Yes and I would for sure do it again, because the organisers are so amazing, giving and loving!
/ Did you know before hand what the other artists will exhibit?
▽ I was really well informed about the other art works in the festival and was therefore able to “infiltrate” one of the other artists, Gabriel Lester’s work in my intervention.
/ So you got a topic or was it free working?
▽ I was completely free to do what I wanted.
/ What inspires you for a project like this?
▽ I always interview people on the locations where I work. When I cannot personally go to research I need as much information as possible from the people inviting me. That’s why I also asked you in one of our first emails what the most common action of the visitors at the Skankaloss Festival was. For this project, I had the artist Linda Tedsdotter who was so cool to invite me, inform me about the festival, its reputation and visitors before I made the work.
/ Which of the other pieces of art did you like best at the Festival?
▽ The white russian drink with breast milk! The artist Ylva Ogland’s ritual left the biggest impression on me along with a literally “new” taste in my mouth…she milked her breasts in front of us and said magic spells over the drinks and then her little daughter walked around and served us the drinks.
/ How was your Festival time?
▽ AW! (the howling version, not the hurting one…)
/ Did you have a highlight band?
▽ I really enjoyed the concert by R. Seiliog. They played a fucking amazing concert at Skankaloss!
/ We had a look at your current work in Berlin with the project DIRECT APPROACH. It is a really interesting and complex topic that you approach there. How did you decide to work with and create a discourse around violence?
▽ Maybe I should first explain the project:
DIRECT APPROACH is an art project based on conversations about violence in film and reality, which has now become a Workshop project and Guidebook.
In the project participants are asked to describe from their memory the most
violent film scene that they have ever watched. Then they are asked to choose one of the characters from the film scene, which in this project works around three categorisations: victim, perpetrator and bystander, for a new recording of the film scene that follows the script of their memory.
I have worked on the topic violence for many years and this project is the biggest and most complex of them all. The work came from observations that I made in society and also research on contemporary (anti-)violence training. I wanted to create a platform where people can reflect on their own violence and also in film and society.
It is a self-evident and at the same time really offensive way to present your art work about violence in film and reality in forms of video and interviews. What were your thoughts behind this decision?
Direct Approach aims to be a platform for open discussions that promote reflection. When doing the project it is very much about being sensitive, listening, forgetting your own ego and slowing down your speed.
I had many thoughts when I began doing this project and still have. The film scene is a protective shield and the project is created in such a way that the rememberer can use the film scene and its characters instead of their private stories. I always remind them that they can be anonymous.
I was looking for an indirect and non-judgemental way to invite people to talk about violence without me deciding what kind of violence they should talk about. I constantly remind and protect the participants to not over-share their privacy in this unguarded moment which a conversation is and that I am looking for public statements in this project.
Narrating a film scene is a complicated process of constructing a story from thousands of components. A film scene recalled from memory invariably consists of different memories, the participant’s own world view and their personal identification with the characters involved etc. This project creates a unique platform for examining how we relate to violence by asking participants to recount a film scene, pick a fictional character, explain their choice and engage in discourse on contemporary violence.
I have now together with a Danish language psychologist, whom I have been worked with for years, turned the art project into a guidebook*** for schools and other institutions who wish to work with the topic violence. The guidebook and project can hopefully be used to provide inspiration for dialogues about film violence and its relation to violence in society today.
/ What was the most emotional moment in the process of this work?
▽ Every time participants share or shared their private violent experiences.
/ Where did you conduct your interviews? Which places inspired you to this project?
▽ In my studio. So far I have done the project only in Germany. Later this year I will do it in Denmark, Colombia and Ireland. The project began in the context of German culture and history.
/ What is the strongest emotion, you would say you ever felt?
▽ I think you are maybe asking me this question because of my project (laughs). The strongest emotion was fear and sorrow together.
/ What is the most magical place you have ever been at?
▽ An imaginary landscape that I meditate myself into.
/ Is there a cure for homesickness?
▽ I am never homesick, because I easily feel at home where I am. So there is no need for a cure.
/ Thank you for the interview, Stine! And good luck with your upcoming projects!
** A visual rumor experiment read in the book “The Psychology of Rumor” by Gordon Allport, where a drawing of an owl becomes a cat when a it is drawn from person to person. The experiment explains visually how we in – almost like in the platonic cave – obtain a “general idea” of a story or an object according to our own biases and how the idea over time is adjusted more and more to our own preconceptions rather than the actual seen object or a first hand fact.
The Direct Approach Guidebook will be published on September 20th 2014.
The official website, distribution and archive is viewable on www.direct-approach.org
Text by Jacobsen
Poster by Jacobsen & Modem.ws
Interview Lola Tivoli, 2014
Photo Anna Lamberg
John, Stockholm, 2012
graphic design / photo / film
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