Take it further
This year, literature has walked hand in hand with the exhibition work. Texts have inspired and almost whispered in the ear, and become a part of the conversation in anticipation of the exhibition and about the artworks that have grown forth.
The Danger of the Single Story is the title of author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s TED Talk in 2009, and this is the inspiration for this year’s exhibition title Not A Single Story. Five years after Adichie, author Taiye Selasi presented her TED Talk, Don’t Ask Me Where I Come From, but Where I’m a Local. And after another five years, the exhibition opens at Wanås. During the same 10-year-period, Jonas Hassen Khemiri has observed and depicted Sweden in text, placed questions of identity in the midst of everyday life, addressed them in letter format to the Minister of Justice, asked questions among Lego figures and on election day. The same thoughts and texts taken up by authors are issues that inspire the artists in Not A Single Story—whose story is told, and who do we share our stories with?—and they are central questions of the 2000s.
Are you a world champion, a baby boomer, a hillbilly, an ex-patriate, or a chef? Many of this year’s artists live, or have lived, in several places that have formed their understanding of self and given rise to different identities. Some of us recognize this experience in ourselves. For others, several identities has more to do with having moved from the country to the city or vice versa, about who you love, about skin color or career choices—everything that comprises our self-image and how others see us. But even if we can see differences between ourselves and others—and there are strong forces that want us to think in the division of “us and them”—we who are alive today have more in common with the people around us than those who lived 500 years ago. Those of us who experience this year’s exhibitions probably have more in common with other secularized, online-ordering, climate-anxious googlers than with Kristina and Karl-Oskar in Vilhelm Moberg’s The Emigrants novels, who at one time emigrated along with one million other Swedes, worn out by stony fields, hunted by hunger and the church in the middle of the 1800s. We who live today share our time.
The artists have seldom used such a wide variety of materials as they do this year—the body has become print and shadows, glass bottles and imitation fur have become sharp or soft sculptures. Art expands our world of representation, nothing less. Seldom is there the opportunity to continue working with an artist’s idea after an exhibition is over, but this year, we’ve been able to say: “What you did last year, let’s take that further in a new exhibition!” Not A Single Story began with an invitation from The Nirox Foundation about creating an exhibition for their sculpture park outside Johannesburg in South Africa. That was in 2018. Now it’s at Wanås. It is almost inherent in the title that the exhibition should continue, in a new place and in a new way. This type of comprehensive project, with exchanges and collaboration, produces concentric circles on the water year after year. Thanks to all the artists who contributed in South Africa, to the team at Nirox for their confidence, and to the artists who are participating in this year’s exhibition.
Who reads a foreword? Those of you who do—we are convinced that encounters with art create dialogue and space for contemplation and change. We want to extend a huge thanks to all of you who visit and participate, for finding this place and continuing to discover and question. Of all our visitors, we especially want to highlight the teachers. Last year, 12,000 school-aged children participated in Wanås Konst’s learning program. They examined the area through tours and workshops, encountered art and artists, and worked in practical terms with the ideas that arose. It’s not easy to find time in the schedule, work out the logistics, and then sit on a bus for an hour to get to Wanås. But remember—we want you here! We see how the art inspires you and how you inspire us. With the economic support of the national Swedish Inheritance Fund, finally this year we can break ground on our own learning program venue. We will continue our focus on discovering art out in the park, but soon we will have a roof over our heads when it rains, access to running water, and warm rooms so that we can expand the periods during which we can welcome children and youth here.
Wanås Konst’s team works year-round. Their curiosity and dedication is invaluable. Even a small force can make a lot happen—in the park, the Art Gallery, and the office. The Foundation’s board is working at a somewhat greater distance, but with great visions for the future, and we send a warm thank-you to them as well. The exhibition in South Africa in 2018, including the comprehensive pedagogical program, was carried out with support by the Swedish Postcode Foundation, the Swedish Institute, and the Swedish Embassy in Pretoria. Those who give us the means by which to do what we’re doing here and now are the Region of Skåne, The Swedish Arts Council, the Municipality of Östra Göinge, foundations and associations, companies and individuals. And, as always, a special thank you to the Wachtmeister family.
Welcome to Wanås!
– Elisabeth Millqvist & Mattias Givell, co-directors, Wanås Konst.