Another hot day in Berlin. All museums are closed. We take a taxi to Kollwitz Platz and eat a late breakfast. From there another taxi to Treptow and the swimmingpool in the river Spree. Badeschiff. Drinks and swimming. The hipsters of Berlin. A surrealistic effect of the pool and people passing by on their boogie-boards emerges – as if they are walking on water. As if gravitation has taken a new hip turn. Swimming, I contemplate the line of former storage buildings on the other side of the river.

Back in the 90s, when I was living just a few hundred meters up the river, in Cuvry-straße, these buildings were still remnants of the former East Berlin. They were empty and grey, but they carried a promise of a potential future. We would sit in the apartment on the former-west-side of the Spree and look over into that former-east-side, contemplating the becoming of a new Berlin. The storage buildings and Friedrichshain/Ostkreuz/Lichtenberg behind them were still an open landscape, con­stituted by cheap rent, empty industrial structures and urban imaginaries.

Now, the storage buildings on the other side of the river are transformed into luxury apartments and high-profile business-centers. The elegant, innovative architecture is a brazen signifier of the pro­cess from communist ruin to neo-liberal rule.

After swimming we eat at a charming restaurant installed on a pier in the Flutgraben canal close to Badeschiff. Here, the aesthetics of temporal autonomous zones, have been transformed into a per­fect, vegan-style eatery. Next to us, a Norwegian family enjoys their first day as tourists and a crowd of middle-aged cultural-class academics are lining up outside to get a table.

Berlin is still pleasant, in fact, über-pleasant in the summer heat, but the unknown, imaginary terri­tories are long gone. Everything is compartmentalized; absorbed into quantifiable units. Innovative in exact, normative measures.



The freedom of car rides. Missing an exit off the highway we change plans and head for a different spot on the map. Spille is a ramschackle Albanian beach, with a few hotels and a main street that looks like a market in rural Mexico. We find a hotel – expensive, but hopelessly shabby.

At the moment we are ready to relax, the music starts. From a nearby, outdoor disco an immense roar of cheap techno-pop blares out, covering the whole town in a tiresome, endless techno-beat. The music lasts for hours and there is no rest inside or outside. We give up sleeping, we give up reading, we give up having sex.

A long walk by the evening beach clears the heads and we decide to investigate the disco: Situated inside a small forest on the edge of the beach, it is actually two different out door discos, placed between the trees as a strange forest-tivoli. Each playing extremely high Albanian techno, compet­ing for loudness. The first is a circular platform placed in front of a series of benches amid the trees. Here, a good crowd of 50-80 youngsters are dancing and drinking. The second one a bit further into the forest is empty, apart from a few guys hanging around. The DJ plays a hardcore set with­out audience, maybe just to stir up the frenzy between the two discos.

We find a spot right in the middle between the trees. The center of a forest mayhem of cheap techno. The double attack of sound creating a hysterical barrage of rhythm noise. Contemporary Albanian folk music.

At exactly 23.30 both discos shut down and we can go to sleep, relaxed, purified of all pretence.



We went on vacation to Albania in search of something. Maybe, it was those unknown, imaginary terri­tories we were dreaming about. I have met them in other former communist cities – Murmansk, Arkhan­gelsk. From the distance Albania seems just like that; a poor, ruined topography brimming with in-be­tween emptiness.

Albania 2018 is completely different. It is a country in construction. Finally, out of almost 100 years of political disasters, things are shaping up. The central square is being redesigned – large open stretches and fragments of urban forest injected into the former Italian-fascist city space. The commu­nist ruin is hard to recognise. Relational aesthetics taking over.

‘Blokki’ is a block where an amazing concentration of restaurants, cafes and clubs are crammed together on what used to be the administrative head-quarters of the communist dictatorship. Everything seems new and shiny and there is a total energy of youth and buzz. Trendy and very smart. Frenzy.



The Albanian premier-minister is a contemporary artist, Edi Rama. In parallel with his political career he is still active as an artist, exhibiting on an international level. His most well-known act was to paint large parts of Tirana city-center in strong, bright, color compositions. This was back in the early 2000s when he was the mayor of Tirana, but he also uses artists like Anri Sala, Phillipe Parreno and Carsten Höller in various details of the reconfiguration of Albanian public and political space. Part of our fasci­nation with Albania comes from speculations on the fact that the country is led by an artist – does that make anything different?

We visit the The Center for Openness and Dialogue in the front part of the administration buildings of the Premier-minister. When Edi Rama was still an art-student under the communist dictatorship, modernism was illegal, and it was impossible to get even a glimpse of reproductions of i.e. Picasso or Matisse. As a service to new generations of artists Rama has installed an open-access library of art-history and political theory, here at The Center for Openness and Dialogue. The Center also makes available all communication in and out of the department of the premier-minister. A transparent archive of political acts. The Center houses a contemporary art exhibition space. Phillipe Parreno has designed the entrance and Carsten Höller has donated a large mushroom sculpture in front of the building.

A strong exhibition of photo-journalist Michel Setboun, describing the dark years 1982-92, the last decade of communist dictatorship. Social-realism at its most intimate and dramatic. The faces of the oppressed. Poverty. Hopelessness. Staged happiness. The cult of Enver Hoxsa.

As it is written in the concept part of the Center’s website, http://www.cod.al

“How it can turn from a historic building with high security measures, isolated from contact with the cit­izens who daily pass by, into an open space of dialogue and exchanges? How can a space that until now has been seen by the public as a stately center of power, turn into a space that invites for inclu­sion in the study, design and implementation of public policies? How it can be reframed in sign of trans­parency, openness and transformation, bringing something new and unique for the Albanian citizens?”

To me the interesting question is not so much if Rama will actually be able to transform Albanian soci­ety from a corrupt drug-trafficking mafia-state into transparent open democracy. Even if he is clean, it is a process that will take years and years. The really interesting fact is that he as an artist took the decision to go into politics. Not activist politics, nor political art – but real pragmatic, parliamentary pol­itics. A pragmatic claim for power. Power to change something. It is a dirty version of art and politics; he is still an artist, even with a considerable international career, but he has gone into pragmatic poli­tics full force.

As any other parliamentarian democracy, Albanian democracy is not pure. But as right-wing gover­nance spread all over Europe, as fascism lurks in the shadows, someone has to try seizing power, someone has to fight for democracy, also in the parliaments, in the governments, in the de facto polit­ical systems.

Edi Rama seems like such a person. The fact that he is also an artist is interesting. It might open up a different kind of governance – in his case it seems like an open, relational, visionary style.

To me though, the really, interesting thing is not even Edi Rama as a politician or his results, but just the fact that he, by his example, opens up the possibility; the possibility of an artist as pragmatic and visionary politician.



We visit the National Gallery of Arts. In the entrance area hangs a large Matisse-like painting, ‘Plant­ing of Trees’. A group of young people planting trees under a poetic blue sky. It is a wonderful paint­ing, green ground and both the figures and the brush-strokes seems to be dancing into the blue that in a surreal manner invades the crowns of the trees from the sky above. It merges realism with a poetic, surreal sensibility that is completely inciting. I just want more of this; the light of summer.

The painting proves to be the entry into a retrospective exhibition by the Albanian painter Edi Hila. In all its joyful optimism ‘Planting of Trees’ became a dramatic turning point in the career of Hila. Made in 1972 by the then young and aspiring artist as a public commission for the People’s Assembly (the par­liament), the painting was conceived within the social realist style, that was accepted by the commu­nist regime of Enver Hoxsa. But, since it did not display any of the obligatory communist regalia – ban­ners with slogans, flags or the like – it was banned by the regime and as a punishment Hila was sent to be ‘re-educated’ in a poultry-plant far off in the countryside for 10 years.

The exhibition focuses mainly on the paintings Hila has made after the fall of the communist regime in 1991. In large series of paintings dominated by tones of grey, he updates the realist style. Follow­ing and depicting the transformation of Albania into capitalism, from austerity to ill-conceived, brazen figurations of new wealth. Penthouse apartments, parasols, tivolis. Buildings, beaches, roads. Cars, colors, grey skies. An intimate, disillusioned portrait of his mother with a remote control. Through the paintings and Hila’s eye for all the colorful objects of cheap capitalism, we understand and see mean­ing in otherwise mundane details.

Hila even succeeds in creating a pictorial representation of the ongoing European refugee-crisis. In the series ‘A Tent on the Roof of a Car’, the paradoxically simple motif of a tent on the roof of a car, becomes an emblematic figuration of the precarious nomadic exile millions of people are forced into. Or as Hila himself writes in the catalogue:

“We’re living through a time of substantial population movements from south to north. Emigration is a great revealer of the contradictions and vast differences existing between the two worlds. The tent comes from the depths of the centuries to our time, so it can carry the same functions as a proper architectonic object, and in different case serves to stimulate discussions and challenge preconceived ideas.”

I can’t seem to remember another painter that represents the surrounding society and its conflicts so directly in painting. It is there as motives, but it is at the same time elevated to iconic signifiers of far greater problematics. Seeing these paintings casts the journey around Albania in another light. The cities and the sub-cities. Hila’s art is a political subject guide to understanding this country.



To go into real politics as an artist – and still exist as an artist in that role, as Rama.


To immerse oneself into the artistic work and take it to another depth, as Hila.



The hotel gives us free bikes and we spend the day biking out along the western shore of Lake Shko­dra. It is hot and dry. Very hot. As we leave the city the lake opens up the horizon. The blue of the water and the blue of the sky melts into each other, and the mountains in the distance fades into a grey mist. The mind stretches into the heat.

We head down a stony slope to swim. As we sink into the water, it is full of various nature things; sea-weed, insects, tiny fish. Not pleasant. It is as if nature owns this water and asks us to leave. It is not for humans and we give up. Sitting naked on a rock on the beach afterwards is something different. It is an image, the heat, the sun, the rocks, the evaporating sea and sky. A day of forever.

On our way back, we visit an abandoned house-structure, built out onto the lake, connected by a small bridge. Four floors and an intricate system of stairs and balconies. A whole series of different views onto the lake and the mountains. Everything is concrete structure, abandoned before floors, walls and windows were installed. An open structure, ready for take-over.




Back in Copenhagen the green party, Alternativet, launches a plan for a total reform of the state administration. They want to create a new, super department for environmental and social conver­sion. All other decisions will be prioritized according to this new agenda: How will it benefit the gen­eral environmental and social conversion? This new super department will overrule the financial department, that until now has had this generalizing power. Dealing with climate change and social inequality is formulated as intricately linked. Both are global problems and have to be countered by global visions.

For the first time in many, many years, I have the feeling of something loosening up in Danish poli­tics. Real visions on how to engage on the real level of real problems are being discussed. I decide to register as a member of Alternativet. It takes 10 minutes and it is the first time I have been a mem­ber of a political party. I am still in shock, surprised by my sudden resolve.

It is time for a different kind of engagement.




Free Berlin No. 6 (Errant Bodies Press, September 2018)





Da flyet letter og flyver henover Amager kan jeg se at golfbanen ligger lige ved siden af asylcentret.

I dagens avis skriver direktør for Statens Museum for Kunst, Mikkel Bogh indsigstfuldt og selvkritisk om filmen The Square. Han anerkender filmens kritik af et hult og intetsigende institutionelt miljø, og nyder åbentlyst filmens grovkornede satire over sociale omgangsformer i kunstverdenens øvre lag.

En sætning bed jeg dog mærke i: ”Den næsten uovervindelige afstand mellem på den ene side en kunst, der vil være politisk bevidstgørende og samfundsomstyrtende, og på den anden side den verden og de mennesker, kunsten ønsker at redde eller omvende.”

Måske ligger problemet lige præcis der; i Mikkel Bogh’s og kunstinstitutionens opfattelse af kunsten/kunstneren som værende i en sfære, allerede reddet og safe, og så omverdenen og ”de mennesker”, som værende i en anden sfære. ’Omverdenen og menneskene’ gøres hermed til ’nogle andre’, anderledes end ’os’, som befinder os inden i kunstverdenens boble. Disse andre gøres også til problemet – dem som skal ’reddes og omvendes’. Det, som The Square i al sin dystopiske satire jo påviser, er egentlig det modsatte – at netop inde i boblen, inde i kunstverdens øverste lag er helvede allerede løs under den glatte overflade. Her hersker kynismen og overfladiskheden fuldstændigt og underløber i sin manglende selverkendelse og situationsfornemmelse alle gode intentioner, uanset hvor de måtte komme fra.

Vejen ud af boblen, starter måske med erkendelsen af at det netop ikke er ’nogle andre’, men i høj grad os selv, vi må ’redde og overbevise’. Når nu vi allesammen så tydeligt kan se at golfbanen ligger lige ved siden af asyl-centret, burde det ikke være så vanskeligt. Vi er på ingen måde safe – selv kulturens øverste lag, som tilsyneladende lever i trygge rammer, sidder på den samme tikkende bombe som alle de andre.

At tro at man kan sidde heroppe i skylaget uden at være en del af både problemerne og problemernes løsning, er jo den virkelige brøler. Det er heroppefra problemerne skal løses. Vi har både privilegierne og indflydelsen. Det faktisk os selv der må lette røven og komme i gang.


Green MeditationYesterday we ended a first sequence of performative events entitled Green Hijab Movement. As a contemplative reflection on the 2017 UCI World Biking Championsships 22 persons stood still for 45 minutes in a pond on the side of the final tracks uphill on the Mens Individual Time Race. 22 persons each wearing the Green Hijab, standing in water, meditating the state of the climate as reflected by the Cycling Championships and the enthusiastic crowds.

The Green Hijab Movement is a ‘detournement’, a deplacement, of one of the strongest symbols of our time. The hijab has two symbolic meanings: The original religious meaning – the hijab is a protective symbol, a protection against various external forces; the sexualized gaze of men, the unholy proceedings of everyday life. The second symbolic meaning is a negation of the first; here, in contemporary Europe the hijab is a negative political symbol, signifying oppression of women, the lack of individual rights for women on a global scale. This second symbolic meaning occurs as a hijack of the original symbol by an unholy coalition of right-wing politics and feminist solidarity.

These two symbolic values are opposed and monumentally stable. They divide the public opinion in two uncompromisable opposed agendas. It’s a black and white division; either you are for one of these versions or you are for the other. Indifference seems impossible. If you don’t choose side you are supporting the fundamentalist islamic version.

The Green Hijab Movement proposes a detournement of this deadlock. By appropriating the hijab for a different purpose – by postulating a new, different symbolic meaning of this simple piece of textile – we attempt break the established opposition of symbolic values. In our movement wearing the green hijab symbolizes global solidarity with the victims of climate change AND an engagement in the struggle to change our societies in the face of climate change. Pollution knows no borders and the effects of climate change hits hard, far away from where the climate crisis is produced. Climate change especially affects women of the global south, the same women that to a large degree are wearing the hijab. Think Bangladesh.

The Green Hijab Movement is created by artists Gitte Sætre and Frans Jacobi as a series of artistic interventions in small or larger public situations. In its first two months of existence we have produced:

A workshop at the Hardanger Peace Academy in Norway.

A 3-part contribution to Nørrekær Bienalen, in the northwestern part of Denmark.

(a meditation, a public speech and a flag)

A DJ-session at KODE Art Museum in Bergen, Norway

A 20×20 contribution to PechaKuchaNight: Freedomat the Corner Theatre in Bergen

A contemplative reflection on the 2017 UCI World Biking Championsships in Bergen.

Plus an improvised series of staged photography and short format video-clips

performing the DJ

The Green Hijab Movement is a proposal for a new global movement; it is slowly gathering momentum and each of these events have engaged new participants. Of course, it is very, very far from being a real political movement – but it is to be understood as a potential possibility. Or as the artist Liam Gillick has termed a series of works: A ‘what if situation’.


They type me down fly over the ruling class becomes more and more airborne nowhere men and nowhere women. We are lonely in the cities lonesome in the days lonesome in the nights I miss her, miss more of night cool breeze no wind nowhere I come back to this letter no means no or ? we roll onto the carpet roll out on the floor roll roll over and around roll down the lane roll down the wall roll down my curtains my blinds my darkness roll over dark roll over back roll over roll. Roll and roll. Sorry so roll back sorry so rolling back our hysteric hysterie angels of angel skin angel air. Will she think of me tonight? Sleep sleep gone gone gone roll gone roll gone back to the coffee man grinder grinder go roll grinder man roll on down the hill so they came back to the bar again nowhere us nowhere me, her face her face this become a something groundbreaking face her face she is gone, as she walks away . Her face is what makes me. Her glance, her view. I become her as her eyes find me. Her glance. I am that what she looks at. She looks me. I understand, now I understand why I need her. Lonely Sunday learning. Where is she now? What is her eyes looking at now. Back bone black bone red bone where is she now? White table, dark tv-screen, sofa, and the view unto the water outside. The dark water mirroring the new luxury housing on the the other side. This is the new I like, this view is what calms me down. I could live in front of that view.


4 days spend in the company of poet CAConrad; 4 days of odd rituals and automatic writing; laments of harsh political realities, laments of war, laments of killing.

A (Soma)tic Ritual is meant to give you extreme presence. To tear away the daily routines, to tear away pre-programmed perception, to avoid rational norms of language. A (Soma)tic Ritual has to be really odd. So odd, that your conception of being is re-opened and you are present. Extremely present.



Each morning CAConrad goes to the internet and traces how many killings that has been done in the ongoing 7 wars of the US. CAConrad haven’t cut his hair since the US began the war in Afghanistan, the first of the 7-war-cycle, still murdering endless amounts of civilians in large parts of the world. Every morning he sits there, touching his longer and longer hair, lamenting the unknown dead. Afterwards notes; fast automatic notes for future poems.

As CAConrad is traversing the US by car he parks and sleeps in WallMart parking-lots. In the morning, he rolls out a blanket on the asphalt, lies down surrounded by small loudspeakers, playing the voices and sounds of extinct animals for half an hour. Afterwards he walks into the WallMart Store and starts a slow walk, spiralling from the perimeter into the center of the super market. Here he kneels down and takes fast notes for future poems for 5 minutes.

Writing as fast as you can is imperative. By writing even faster you get ahead of the inner editor; the inner control. Each time you are caught in a loop or your impulses freeze, just write faster.



CAConrad is a slow walker. Slowly we walk through the streets of Bergen. We see things I never saw before, even though I have walked these streets for the last five years. The favorite place is an odd corner of the harbor, where lots of starfish gather in the dirty water. Each day we check on their conjuration. Somehow, they seem to get plenty.


The title of the first talk and the workshop is


The title of the second talk is


Both talks end with a credo: Creativity is more important than ever. Creativity is our only weapon against the dark forces now gathering strength.

After the first reading we spend the afternoon upstairs on the 8thfloor, sitting in a circle, reading Dante’s Divine Comedy, Heaven. As it opens:

The glory of Him who moveth everything
Doth penetrate the universe, and shine
In one part more and in another less.



allegiance |əˈlējəns| noun

loyalty or commitment of a subordinate to a superior or of an individual to a group or cause: those wishing to receive citizenship must swear allegiance to the republic | a complex pattern of cross-party allegiances.


lament |ləˈment| noun

a passionate expression of grief or sorrow: his mother’s night-long laments for his father | a song full of lament and sorrow.• a song, piece of music, or poem expressing sorrow.• an expression of regret or disappointment; a complaint: there were constant laments about the conditions of employment.




A performance by Frans Jacobi impersonating Pope Francis. Performed in parallel with Rita Marhaug’s performance at Omstillingslaboratorium, Bergen Bibliotek 24.1.2017. Organised by Margrethe Brekke, Soups&Stories and Stiftelsen 3,14.


Four sections of the ENCYCLICAL LETTER (LAUDATO SI’) OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS – ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME are recited. Section 11 is mumbled while walking around the auditorium. Section 21 & 22 are recited in a loud rhythmical manner while circling around Rita Marhaug lying in a pool of black oil. Section 231 with a sincere, truthful voice, while kneeling in the black pool of oil


11: Francis helps us to see that an integral ecology calls for openness to categories which transcend the language of mathematics and biology, and take us to the heart of what it is to be human. Just as happens when we fall in love with someone, whenever he would gaze at the sun, the moon or the smallest of animals, he burst into song, drawing all other creatures into his praise. He communed with all creation, even preaching to the flowers, inviting them “to praise the Lord, just as if they were endowed with reason”. His response to the world around him was so much more than intellectual appreciation or economic calculus, for to him each and every creature was a sister united to him by bonds of affection. That is why he felt called to care for all that exists. His disciple Saint Bonaventure tells us that, “from a reflection on the primary source of all things, filled with even more abundant piety, he would call creatures, no matter how small, by the name of ‘brother’ or ‘sister’”. Such a conviction cannot be written off as naive romanticism, for it affects the choices which determine our behaviour. If we approach nature and the environment without this openness to awe and wonder, if we no longer speak the language of fraternity and beauty in our relationship with the world, our attitude will be that of masters, consumers, ruthless exploiters, unable to set limits on their immediate needs. By contrast, if we feel intimately united with all that exists, then sobriety and care will well up spontaneously. The poverty and austerity of Saint Francis were no mere veneer of asceticism, but something much more radical: a refusal to turn reality into an object simply to be used and controlled.

21: Account must also be taken of the pollution produced by residue, including dangerous waste present in different areas. Each year hundreds of millions of tons of waste are generated, much of it non-biodegradable, highly toxic and radioactive, from homes and businesses, from construction and demolition sites, from clinical, electronic and industrial sources. The earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth. In many parts of the planet, the elderly lament that once beautiful landscapes are now covered with rubbish. Industrial waste and chemical products utilized in cities and agricultural areas can lead to bioaccumulation in the organisms of the local population, even when levels of toxins in those places are low. Frequently no measures are taken until after people’s health has been irreversibly affected.

22: These problems are closely linked to a throwaway culture which affects the excluded just as it quickly reduces things to rubbish. To cite one example, most of the paper we produce is thrown away and not recycled. It is hard for us to accept that the way natural ecosystems work is exemplary: plants synthesize nutrients which feed herbivores; these in turn become food for carnivores, which produce significant quantities of organic waste which give rise to new generations of plants. But our industrial system, at the end of its cycle of production and consumption, has not developed the capacity to absorb and reuse waste and by-products. We have not yet managed to adopt a circular model of production capable of preserving resources for present and future generations, while limiting as much as possible the use of non-renewable resources, moderating their consumption, maximizing their efficient use, reusing and recycling them. A serious consideration of this issue would be one way of counteracting the throwaway culture which affects the entire planet, but it must be said that only limited progress has been made in this regard.

231: Love, overflowing with small gestures of mutual care, is also civic and political, and it makes itself felt in every action that seeks to build a better world. Love for society and commitment to the common good are outstanding expressions of a charity which affects not only relationships between individuals but also “macro-relationships, social, economic and political ones”. That is why the Church set before the world the ideal of a “civilization of love”. Social love is the key to authentic development: “In order to make society more human, more worthy of the human person, love in social life – political, economic and cultural – must be given renewed value, becoming the constant and highest norm for all activity”. In this framework, along with the importance of little everyday gestures, social love moves us to devise larger strategies to halt environmental degradation and to encourage a “culture of care” which permeates all of society. When we feel that God is calling us to intervene with others in these social dynamics, we should realize that this too is part of our spirituality, which is an exercise of charity and, as such, matures and sanctifies us.




‪Hans Kleivdal /react-text ‪react-text: 47 /react-text This was NOT your regular Pecha Kucha NOR cosy TEDtalk event. Kunnskapsdeling ble rettmessig og utålmodig utfordret ved in situ Art Performance med “Pave Frans” som messet om nødvendigheten av grønn omstilling, mens menneskeheten ligger druknet i olje foran foredraget mitt😳 Det var litt som å hoppe etter Wirkola😊


As I wake up I find myself in a strange half-light. I detect a set of familiar objects, but it is as if they are placed in a completely unknown environment. A room I have never seen before. There is a strange sketch-like quality to the objects – as if they are only possibilities. Emerging from obscurity. From another level of reality.

After a few moments I realize that I am actually at home, that the strange light cast on everything is just the weak morning light rising. Reassured I rest a while, getting to grips with the situation and the tasks of my travel ahead.

Then another complete break in the continuum of space and time; as I sit up I feel my face taking on an expression of my lover. As if her facial expression emerges in my face. This morning she is far away, probably sleeping in her own flow of time. Here though, in my room, she is momentary present – as her expression on my face. What is that deep layer of emotions that makes this possibility happen?

Once again I pull myself together and speed back to my mundane tasks, but the two incidents colors my morning. Even though both experiences are emotional – sensorial perceptions, they are functions of an automatisation.  My body controlled by some outside power. Technobody – not in the robotic sense, but as a bodily reaction controlled from something exterior. In soft gentle ways – these are soft perceptive sensations. Still images from afar. My sensorial organs projecting emotional events from a strange layer of alien possibilities.



automaton |ôˈtämətən, -ˌtän|

noun (pl. automata |-tə| or automatons)

a moving mechanical device made in imitation of a human being.

  • a machine that performs a function according to a predetermined set of coded instructions, esp. one capable of a range of programmed responses to different circumstances.
  • used in similes and comparisons to refer to a person who seems to act in a mechanical or unemotional way: she went about her preparations like an automaton.

ORIGIN early 17th cent.: via Latin from Greek, neuter of automatos ‘acting of itself,’ from autos ‘self.’



This text also appears as part of Synsmaskinen/Dark Pools: http://synsmaskinen.net/maskin/dark-pools-etherpad


A garage, in the backyard of some housing blocks in downtown Arkhangelsk. Its dark as we approach the scenario. A crowd of people and the muffled sound of music, a strange folk-punk. Coming closer we see a large video-projection with the band playing. Is it a video? Inside the garage the first rooms reveals another strange collection folk aesthetics, an installation of various objects, each oozing with atmosphere and hidden narratives. Behind a plastic curtain, sealed off, the band is actually playing live; in here the sound is loud and wild. Outside again the wine is absolutely discount and spirits are high. Last nights band arrives and starts a loose, anarchic session of jamming and circle-dancing in the dark.

In seldom moments a new art-scene is emerging, a new community comes alive. The second Artic Art Forum is an attempt at collecting such an emerging art community. Maybe even to take part in the production of such a moment.

The first two days of seminar, concerts, exhibition openings and discussions on art-conditions are sympathetic and interesting, but leaves one with the inevitable question: Is Arkhangelsk and the northern outskirts of Russia in fact too remote and culture too fragmented to claim status as an art-scene in itself?

To me and my generation the strange sensation of an art-scene in bloom, an aesthetics in becoming, is of course connected to the first part of the 90ties, Berlin 91-95, Riga 1993, Copenhagen 93/94. These were beautiful moments of our own becoming artists. Each generation and each community has its own periods of bloom, of creating artistic identity. Something comes together, something appears and a social aesthetic is shaped.

Thursday evening I feel exactly that sensation – arriving at that garage in the dark backyard everything comes together. Something collective is emerging in the darkness and a very specific aesthetics takes shape.

Somewhere in the seminar the next day, someone speaks of herself as a fruit, not yet ripe, but soon to become ripe. This might be the potential of the Murmansk/Arkhangelsk art-scene. Not yet ripe, but in exactly that most exciting state of urgent becoming.


In his book ‘The Rise of the Global Left – the world social forum and beyond’ Boaventura De Sousa Santos describes neo-liberal capitalism as an hegemonic mono culture that only allows for one utopian concept – the realization of neo-liberal capitalism itself. Global capitalism leaves no space for any alternatives; the system brings it own fulfillment.

But how does this utopian fulfillment actually look? Where does it appear?

One appearance might be the international transit area in Frankfurt Airport. Here the smooth aesthetics of non-space (M.Augé) constitutes itself with a discreet logic that we all willingly accept. Here we are all accepted and treated with pleasant smiles. Check-in, security and passport-control has sorted us and now we can relax. No one is here without allowance. The atmosphere is relaxed and leisurable. If everything goes right we have plenty of time for shopping, eating and drinking until our next boarding.

IMG_1497The class-system is subtle and discreet; of course we all accept that business-people have access to a series of extra lounges and services. They have paid for it and they deserved it. They somehow carry their suits and luggage in a manner that naturalizes their advantages.

Shopping is ‘duty-free’. What does this mean?

duty |ˈd(y)o͞otē|

noun (pl. duties)

1 a moral or legal obligation; a responsibility: it’s my duty to uphold the law | she was determined to do her duty as a citizen | a strong sense of duty.

  • [ as modifier ] (of a visit or other undertaking) done from a sense of moral obligation rather than for pleasure: a fifteen-minute duty visit.

I can buy the things I want without any ‘moral or legal obligation’; without any ‘responsibility’. This is indeed utopian – here my money is exactly that: My Money. No one are to interfere or ask how and why I spend it like I want to. I am free. Free to buy.

I myself have about an hour. I find a nice rustic restaurant and order a pasta with spinach and tomatoes. It is delicious. It perfectly matches the 2009er Blauschiefer Riesling Trocken of my choice. In between eating I am trying to install various apps on my new iPhone.

Now I am in the air, flying into the night. Heading for yet another utopian, non-space, international transit-area.

Touching the Spring of the Air, and its Effects, Made, for the Most Part…


De Souza text: www.synsmaskinen.net/maskin/utopia-log-4

This text also appears as: www.synsmaskinen.net/maskin/utopia-log-8




In his upcoming film Shadow World, artist Johan Grimonprez, investigates the dark corrupted ways of global weapon trading. The result is sharp, dark and hits heavy. In his presentation at the seminar ’Action – and its twised relation to the object’ at the Icelandic Academy of Arts this weekend he presented a few scenes of the still not completed film.

In between a couple of very stark interviews on severe political misconduct on a global scale, a schokingly beautiful clip of a rollerscating couple, dancing on a plinth. The voice-over tells us of an uprising in some brazilian city. Protesting against a ridiculous ban on homosexual kissing in public space, the entire city engages in hours of protest-kissing.

This miracoulous little clip, hints at the similar miracoulous ending of the film. Here the philosofer Michael Hardt contemplates his ideas of a new common, build on love. An empathic love, that he sees as a tool, with the capacity to change each and everyone of us. Only love can overcome the evil mechanisms of an all encompassing, capitalist corruption. A corruption of the most basic human capacity to create enduring communities and basic human solidarity. Only love can help us re-create the idea of ’we’. Who are we, what are we, and what do we want?

This most surprising turn of Grimonprez presentation, that ends our intense 2-day discussions on action, object and art, leaves us all exhausted, but silently happy. Here is actually an artist that points to a possible hope. A fragile, but possible glimpse into a future direction of our politics.

This might sound heavy and existential, but as in his work in general, Grimonprez delivers his arguments with a humble and disarming lightness that is hard to resist. Here is an example – the video-clip he uses to illustrate the connection between the twisted object (cake) and the figure of the rebel (action):