As the call to resistance sounds in response to authoritarian, nationalist movements around the world, we turn our attention to studying and perhaps developing strategies of resistance inherent in our artistic practices. Simultaneously, we consider what strategies of resistance exist within the rural context, and the drive towards a rural existence.
The Rural Resistance research strand was pursued as part of our Nordic/Baltic Post-MFA program that gathers a group of recent graduates from selected Nordic and Baltic art academies for a period of intensive research at our site. This page offers glimpses into our work and time together.
We spent a few days acclimating ourselves to the topic of study and the site through collaborative and individual exercises. Our first day began with the prompt “Create a structure for others to resist”.
As artists we often cast ourselves in the role of agent of resistance, yet many of the ways of being and structural mechanisms at play in the professional practice of contemporary art are highly normative. This contradiction co-exists with the moment the members of the group are in, transitioning from being in the role of a student to becoming teachers of a next generation of artists. We chose to begin our investigation by acknowledging this position, thinking the act of resistance from the perspective of the one who makes the structure rather than the one who breaks or challenges it. Other exercises followed and our time together ended with the construction of a toolset. Each of us designed a tool to carry on the study of rural resistance we had begun. At a designated time, in a designated spot, we met in the forest and deposited our tools.
It will be small instructions on how to go somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going. Or if you don’t want to know where you’re going. Or you can’t decide which way to go. You can look at these and it will tell you where to go but it won’t tell you where you’re going. It can be read anywhere. If you had this kind of instructions, you wouldn’t need to decide, and you wouldn’t need to be in doubt of if you had taken the right path.
In my process I find it hard, maybe, to talk about ideas very early on. That I want to keep it a bit secret before you know what it is, or before you’ve developed something. It was a good reminder to think about what it actually can give also, in return, in sharing something. We’re dealing very much with in between spaces maybe. That it’s like—well, just think about love. How amazing it is but also how vulnerable you become the more you love somebody. There’s a feeling also that you could lose that.
There is a guy who’s trying to figure out a kind of “pain scale.” But it’s not fixed for every person, since pain is subjective. It’s based on what you’re willing to give up to get out of the pain you’re in. If you’re willing to lose an eye it’s a much bigger pain that willing to be blind for a week. You need to know what that person values. But I think it’s an important attempt to measure something that is so difficult to measure. - Tilda
I found this attic. I really had trouble working because I was thinking, where should I work? So I found this, and it was kind of personal because I also lived in an attic for two years. I like attics and I don’t like cellars. I’m an attic person, I want to be high up, I want light in the air, it’s kind of dry, there’s a good feeling about it, like a shelter, like an escape place. - Marileen
I realized I can do something with this short of period. I think I’ve found something again. Because sometimes I think that maybe I’ll just stop doing art and do something else, but now I realized that that’s not an option. - Marileen
(presenting her tool, Mari Leen shows us a section of folded tape, pressing droplets of water and dust and a blade of grass.) Here I made a self-portrait. And yesterday I walked out and recorded the night. - Marileen
I think I liked the feeling that the soil didn’t want to be glued, and the soil was resisting it. But I wanted to shape it anyways. I progressed a little bit, I had a good feeling, and also the soil was from the specific place I picked. The first part of it was from this area, right around this house, and the second part was from the soil around the house (outside of Stockholm) that I just recently inhabited. - Ludmilla
I had decided that I was going to leave something behind, somewhere here, in some form. It’s interesting for someone to have something to find sometime, or to have a reason to come back here. I want it to have a life on it’s own.
(sitting in forest, presenting his tool for rural resistance, “Whale” to the group) Now we are going here, and now we are sitting here. Just read it with your eyes. It’s written on sandpaper because sand lasts forever and paper lasts short so it’ll last somewhere between forever and short. There’s a whale in the forest now.
When you’re in the city, you always want to “escape to the countryside” in that very romantic way. And then you’re here, and not everything is perfect, and there are things that annoy you, or don’t fit. That kind of friction I’m very interested in. - Augustin
(he is cleaning the toilet in the shared house when I speak to him) I feel more and more attached to the place. Attached to the walls, to the air, to the light, to the fresh meals. And now it’s painful to say goodbye. So in order to do that, I need to do some sort of ritual, and cleaning is perfect. - Augustin
When settling in here—and it really took two or three or four days—the more meaning everything gave me. Things that I didn’t necessarily notice the value in when I arrived are starting to bloom for me. Both socially, but also when I was cutting and grinding I felt that it was quite meaningless, but I decided to keep doing it, forcing myself to do it. And now in the end it’s quite enriching for me as an experience. Of people and the place. And that’s not exaggerating even; it’s really very true. - Arild
Resistance. I don’t know yet what to do. I kind of also want to resist the theme. One idea was just to resist: don’t do anything. Just leave to Stockholm and wait for your flight to Riga. I had one idea to go hitchhiking back to Stockholm for these three days. But maybe also, I want to do something. - Janis
I lost track of days. I think it’s Tuesday. It’s not moving at all. It’s one gap that we are into now. It seems longer probably but then it passes really quickly. I think all the projects I do are gaps that I jump into. This “movement” is real time, reality. It takes you one day to go from Latvia to here, and that’s real-time. And then you jump into some type of project, and that’s a gap. Sometimes in life there are more gaps, or just one big gap. Sometimes there is movement all the time. - Janis