response of sverige

the photos

click at the pictures above to enlarge

the notebook

notebook

click at the notebook above to look in the original notebook or read the notebook text belove in english

the notes by

FOLKE ARTMAN
FØRSLEV, SWEDEN

On Tuesday 22/ l / 02 a notice arrived about a parcel from Denmark. The sender was unknown to me. The only thing I could expect from Denmark would be from a member of the Ringkøbing Smakkelaug to whom I had sent a report about a couple of day’s sailing in connection with an inter-Nordic allmoge-boats meeting. Five boats from the smacklaug sailed together from Roskilde to a camp in Isefjorden. I was expecting a copy of their club magazine. This parcel even seemed to contain a little something as a thank you for the article.

With some disappointment and anticipation I find inside the parcel an invitation to be part of a work of art! There are often advertising brochures with all kinds of invitations in the letterbox. You get something minor if you commit to something, which, before you know it, costs more than you had imagined. You get exploited in your naivety and get disappointed, mainly with yourself. But in most cases these advertising offers end up in the rubbish. Shouldn’t this be going the same way? I really don’t have time for other people’s, stranger’s, funny business. The living room furniture have been put away. The roof needs re-painting. In the shed a started woodwork project, a chest of drawers, is awaiting. In the basement the outboard motor is waiting for another layer of protection paint. The outdoor furniture needs oiling. Shouldn’t I be preparing for the meeting tonight and tomorrow night. Yes indeed!

This parcel. The postage close to one hundred Danish crowns. The contents perhaps close to 300 DKr sent to 35 countries, 10.000 DKr altogether.

I belong to a generation, who grew up with parents who experienced poverty-stricken Sweden in the late 1800. Nothing useful was wasted all leftover food was being used. I fill up the shed with big and small things, which might be useful. But I forget what I am keeping and most of it is never used. And I can afford to buy new.

I cannot throw out such an expensive parcel. My wife suggested returning it. That simple!

Well, I am not only naive. I am also a patriot. Should I let Sweden fail amongst 35 countries. What if it was returned and then sent to someone else in my country, increased expenses? To what use?

With that I have reached the obvious question. From where did Steinun and Hanne get my name and address? Why me? Can hardly believe that it was a random pick in the phone book.

13th January - Canut’s Day, the end of Christmas this year on a Sunday. The Tree and all the decorations will come down Monday. Canut is celebrated in the memory of the Danish King, who died in 1086. He was regarded a martyr called ”Canut the Holy” by posterity. The Sunday, before mentioned, when I went to church here in the village, the service was about the baptism of Jesus,God’s chosen one, by Johannes. The vicar read the text and explained to us how every human needs to be seen, loved and chosen. Look around you amongst the lonely, the outcast, even those have not been forgotten; God sees, God loves everyone and they are like Jesus the chosen ones.

In connection with this work of art in progress have I been chosen, yet not seen or loved. Could my name have come up in connection with ”THE WIND BLOWS” the Nordic allmoge-boats meeting since 1285?

Breathing is essential, goes on all through your life from the first breath, so eagerly and worriedly anticipated by those who are present and to the last weak breath out of the dying person, hopefully surrounded by dear relatives.

But during the course of life we don’t give much thought to our breathing. If happens automatically. Stronger when we are straining, weaker almost unnoticeable when we are asleep. That’s how it is for a healthy person. During sickness difficulty with breathing can occur (during a cold) or shortness of breath (e.g. during a heart attack). If we are forced to stop breathing e.g. when swimming under water the need for oxygen is strongly increased verging on fear to be able to start breathing again. Though practice we can suppress the urge to breathe to a certain degree and can swim twice as long under water as we thought possible.

But we cannot breathe heavily to create on oxygen build up before and oxygen demanding performance. The brain says stop.

Breathing in, pause, breathing out. That is how the process is supposed to go, but during normal breathing, no noticeable gap occurs between the in- and out breath. When the body is resting only a small part of the lung capacity is being used, a smaller part of the lung volume exchanges air.

Who hasn’t as a kid competed to see who could hold his breath the longest. For a fair game you should hold your nose tight with a thumb grip. Usually the strongest willed would win.

During my youth, when I practised swimming long distances under water, I got the advice to let out a bit of air, when the urge to breathe in got too strong. Thereby you would trick the automatic breathing in reflex and the relieve would let you gain some other 10 meter’s of swimming.

During strong emotional stress, if you want to calm down, it helps to breathe in deeply and hold your breath; the same goes for a sudden onset of anxiety.

So I am here by participating in a work of art, in an art project! What is art? It is hard, perhaps impossible to define. Somebody said that everything created, as art (by the artist) is art. The value of the art is in the eye of the spectator, whose understanding of the art can be broadened and the depth of the perception assisted through studying.

Usually people themselves want to judge and value. Artists, critics, gallery owners all influence us, trying to teach us, convince us in our confusion and doubts. Surely the highest price at an exhibition or an auction is not defining the worth of the work of art, nor the status or abilities of the artist. Here scepticism has its say.

This art-project, however, is not perceivable, not a canvas. Perhaps more like an installation, a happening, an idea, a joke. This kind of disposable art, which is used up and over as soon as the spectator has participated, comprehended, been explained to, understood the dimension, the dimensions. It is like an already solved crossword-puzzle used up and worthless,

Then comes the following ponder: is this really seriously meant or is it I as a person, who has been exposed to a test and scrutiny. Like trying to find the answer to how much time and mental effort
people in different countries can be expected to spend on something which isn’t, what it is pretending to be, namely art.

Wednesday 23/1
The seven sheets were actually missing in the folder, which was sent to me. My first incentive was to cut out the seven little squares, which were in the letter in front of me. They would be easy to place. But then it occurred to me, that aside from the prints, there might be an original piece, drawings or colour pictures.

So I phoned Hanne in Denmark. She promised me to send the seven sheets that same day.

She seemed serious enough. No irony or jocularity in her tone of voice.

She couldn’t tell me how they got my name and address, however, but referred me to Steinunn Helga.

Monday 28/1
”The seven sheets” arrived in today’s post. Three subjects: 2 pieces of ”breathing in”, 2 pieces of ”breathing out” and 3 pieces with faint slightly wavy periled lines going from edge to edge.

By the order they were placed in the folder, just like it shows in the letter, I can detect a trip-tych in this work of art.

Breathing in / Pause / Breathing out.

I find this order to be the most natural one, but the opposite could also be possible.

Breathing out / Pause / Breathing in.

Said and done. With the double-sided sticky tape the first print from the folder’s stiff cardboard was sorted. It is placed on the cover of the bureau. It can be seen by anyone entering the house through the kitchen entrance. You pass the artwork regularly on the way to and from the kitchen.

This notebook is placed on the bureau by the work of art.

The picture ”Breathing out” I put on my bedside table above the radio, stuck onto the photographs of my grandchildren, several are old ones.

The pictures “Breathing out” together with the “Pause” are now stuck on the glass of the bedroom window.

In pencil on the back of the last sheet, it says 1 minute in very small writing. In this connection that is an unreasonably long time, scary and oppressively uncomfortable. I suggest 15 sec. instead.
The choice of placements I will explain later.

Left of the seven sheets is a
”Pause”.
This goes on a picture I have above my desk.

29/1 Tuesday
As I open up the blind in the bedroom just after seven it is already getting light. The clouds are chasing each other. Straight in front of me a piece of art (very little work , just two words, typed). They encourage me to breathe in, which I do. Symbolically taking in the new day and wondering in silence, what this day demands and what it can give.

Then it strikes me. I have misinterpreted and translated it incorrectly. The two words are not an encouragement. It is an occurrence. As they appear this is a time-limited thing - breathing in. But it cannot stay like that. The body demands a continuation, the rhythmic breathing in, out, in, out, all life long. A rest during this, a pause, in the breathing, is always forced by the individual and happens within a limited time. So the breathing in and out has its limitations.

So, therefore, correctly translated and understood my print on the cover of the bureau should read.

Breathing in / Resting / Breathing out.

Resting. Is it rest? No, in between and during the breathing important things are taking place, namely the oxygen levels of the blood. At vital lack of oxygen forces are mobilised to produce oxygen to continue the breathing. If this doesn’t happen the brain is affected and unconsciousness follows.

How should you interpret the picture ”Resting” these faint lines from one edge to the other. A puddle. A calm sea with unnoticeable ripples. An empty surface. But it is under the surface the important things happen, the life of the animals and the sea plants. Even here oxygen is needed, through out the breathing of the wind and the currents. Though the rhythm is different to that of the human one.

From an outside point of view the picture ”Resting” seems pointless, meaningless and so casually that it might be mistaken for a child’s scribble.

In the afternoon Åse, my wife’s youngest daughter, came to pick up her two boys, 6 and 4 years old. She couldn’t avoid seeing the pictures.
”What’s this”, she asks spontaneously. ”A work of art?” Yes.
”Oh yes – a contemplative work of art”, she judged, directly, unaffected. But she didn’t have time for any more background, though she is artistically gifted herself and sews appliqué and illustrates her own poetry.

3/2 Sunday
I am on my third day of a course of penicillin against an airway infection, which is normally called quinsy.

With a sore throat and with spreading of the infection to the nose and chest the temperature reached a maximum of 39,6 degrees Celsius. At one point during the night, I had to force myself to breathe really gently and slowly, so that the stream of air wouldn’t cause the spontaneous upset of coughing or sneezing. It was clear to me that such air exchange was not breathing. The point of breathing is, of course, to add oxygen to the blood. While the before mentioned like blowing your nose, clearing your throat, and drawing snot into the pharynx, has the purpose of clearing the airways from mucus. Especially the sneezing is effective as the quick contraction of the chest and diaphragm creates a stream of air the speed of a hurricane.

Even by actively attempting to prevent a sneeze, air is automatically drawn in and hereby gives the sneeze its effect. At some stage I was given the advice never to hold back a sneeze. The pressure needs to be released in order to avoid the infection forcing its way towards the ear canals and sinuses.

In the Swedish language, as in all other languages, there are certain agreed expressions, which, symbolically or in a figurative sense, express something familiar well known by everybody.

In connection with psychological or physical efforts the mind is focused on this, but when the pressure ceases ”You can breathe out again”. By this you don’t mean the air exchange in the lunges, but the release and expansion of the mind. I can perceive normally and have calmed down.

When I am looking at my trip-tych on the bureau ”in” / ”rest” / ”out” I am suspecting that the pictures are in the wrong order. It should really be like this:
”in” / ”out” / ”rest”

After a deep breath in there is an immediate pressure to breathe out. If you do this the “rest” that follows becomes more unruffled. This applies to a task demanding great precision and concentration like just before I fire my gun, put a thread through the eye of a needle.

Someone might object that this isn’t the case with the shot-putter, the hammer-thrower or the tennis-player who, at that very moment of throwing or hitting, breathes out with a scream or yell. This may be so, but here the precision is secondary to the force.

13/2 Wednesday photographed the display according to the instructions.
As I was unsure about the camera’s light sensitivity (the film’s that is) I have also photographed using a flash.

Picture 1 Breathing out = out-breath placed by the bed-radio. Here the picture should give me inspiration to breathe out the events of the day, good as well as bad, clear the lungs, leave the day and receive the night in the calm breath of sleep.

Picture 2 On the window in the bedroom where every day the weather and the surrounding country. This is where I should take in the new day.

Picture 3 This undefined picture of resting (between in and out breath) I have put next to a charcoal drawing by Steffan Ullström, who is a skilful painter of birds, a calm seascape showing that a breath is present in the deep in the shape of a swell showing its momentum and power against the cliff’s of the beach. In what appears as still there is a force equally found in the in or out breath which must follow.

Picture 4 On the bureau that stands by the entrance it is shown from the right, side by side: Breathing out – Resting – Breathing in.

Picture 5 My wife Ebba sitting by the bureau. The notebook is lying on top of it.

Picture 6 Me sitting by the bureau with the notebook in my hand.

Picture 7 The notebook.

Picture 8 Picture 3 but taken with flash.

Picture 9 Picture 1 taken with flash.

Picture 10 The house where we live.

Picture 11 The entrance to the house.

Picture 12 My desk.

After I photographed them I took all the pictures (the sheets) and put them together on my desk. Pondered over them. They didn’t give me any inspirations other than, what I have already written about here in this notebook. Not an experience of beauty at all. They were used up. And I wasn’t going to miss them on that spot where they had been placed.

I had accomplished my undertaking without knowing exactly what it was.
What did Steinunn and Hanne expect?

Good luck with the continuation!

Folke Artman