The Chorus of Begging and The Chorus of Giving

A group exhibition by Public Art Agency SwedenWhen: August 13–25 2019. Where: Stockholm City.
Choreographies of the Social explores the changing field of social relations. The project is informed by artistic and activist practices that investigate how we relate to one another and to the world around us. The different works address inherent social tensions and the global dynamics of our time. 

The documentation below is from my installation The Chorus of Begging and The Chorus of Giving. Read all about it, see the film and how it was made, at: http://beggingandgiving.se/en/chapter-7/#chap7-1

At around 9pm

A Place in Europe •

A film sculpture for public sites. Watch the film and check for updates on the project site http://aplaceineurope.com/

Norrköping 21/9 – 28/10, Bredgatan 33-34, REMESO, Linsköpings universitet. Inauguration 19:00, 25/9 with Professor Stefan Jonsson.










Fotografier: Cecilia Parsberg

Photos above: 8­–15 november 2018, Odenplan, Stockholm.
(Find synopsis in English below)

Konstnärerna Erik Pauser och Cecilia Parsberg har tillsammans med arkitekterna Haval Murad och David Martinez Escobar skapat en konstnärlig gestaltning som speglar sprickor i det moderna samhället. Filmskulpturen startar sin resa under en vecka på Odenplan för att fortsätta på andra offentliga platser i storstäder.

Filmskulpturen Huset skildrar hemlöshet – en oönskad verklighet för alltför många. Skulpturen har form av ett hus som håller på att sjunka ner i marken. Undersidan består av en LED-skärm där kortfilmen En plats i Europa projiceras. Den handlar om en undanskymd plats i en storstad. En plats som har blivit ett hem för arbetssökande migranter, som fallit mellan stolarna i den europeiska fria rörligheten. Berättaren är Thomas som under tre år har haft sin sovplats under en lastbrygga. Nu ska han vräkas. Han representerar de som vill göra rätt för sig: arbeta, försörja sin familj, leva ett värdigt liv.

På ett drabbande sätt fångar konstverket viktiga frågor kring migration och grundläggande mänskliga rättigheter som påverkas av den globala politiken. Beror en människas utsatthet på individens eller samhällens misslyckanden? Verkets kraftfulla formspråk hämtar sin styrka i den sofistikerat enkla arkitektoniska formen och filmens gripande, dokumentära innehåll. En brutal verklighet är här ett sprängstoff för konsten som speglar samhällsaktuella ämnen och synliggör sprickor i sociala konstruktioner. Det är konsten som bränner till och som aldrig vänder blicken från de mest komplexa frågorna.

Filmen En plats i Europaav Cecilia Parsberg och Erik Pauser ingår i dokumentärserien RÖST, en satsning av Svenska Filminstitutet, SVT och Folkets Bio. Produktionen har fått stöd av Konstnärsnämnden och Kulturbryggan. Den har bland annat visats i Almedalen, på skolbio och filmfestivaler i Sverige och internationellt.

Cecilia Parsberg, född 1963, är konstnär och filosofie doktor i Fri konst. Hennes avhandling Hur blir du en framgångsrik tiggare i Sverige (2016), som består av texter, bilder och filmer, ställer frågor kring hur de tiggande människorna och givarna ingår i en social interaktion och hur de relaterar till varandra. Parsbergs skapande kretsar kring angelägna sociala, politiska och existentiella frågor och undersöker brännpunkter i samhällen. Hennes konst har visats på Moderna Museet och Nationalmuseum i Stockholm, Tate i London med flera.

Erik Pauser, född 1957, är filmskapare, producent och konstnär. Pausers dokumentärfilmer skildrar ofta samhällsfrågor. Han har gjort flera filmer om krig och dess konsekvenser. Hans sista dokumentär The Borneo Case har visats i mer än 50 länder. Hans filminstallationer har visats på museer och gallerier i Sverige och utomlands. Filmerna har vunnit en rad priser på internationella filmfestivaler.

Haval Murad, född 1983, är byggingenjör och arkitekt utbildad vid Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan. Han är grundare till arkitektkontoret Detail Group som arbetar med hållbar stadsutveckling ur ett tvärdisciplinärt perspektiv. Murad’s arbete spänner sig över ett brett fält och berör frågor i gränslandet mellan arkitektur, konstnärskap, politik och samhällsutveckling.

David Martinez Escobar, född 1983, är arkitekt utbildad i Mexiko och Sverige. Martinez har specialiserat sig i Design for Sustainable Developmentpå Chalmers Tekniska Högskola. Han är partner på arkitektkontoret Detail Group och har under sina 10 års som arkitekt fokuserat på hållbarhetsfrågor inom samhällsutvecklingen och rollen som arkitekt.

KontaktLiljevalchs: Mårten Castenfors, chef Liljevalchs. marten.castenfors@stockholm.se, 08–505 31 332

Projektet är gjort med stöd från: Kulturbryggan, Konstnärsnämnden, Liljevalchs/Stockholm Konst, Detail Group

English:
The project name ”A Place in Europe” is an umbrella for: a film sculpture titled ”The House” (première during the fall 2018) and a short film (première June 2018 in RÖST). The presentations in Stockholm are orchestrated by Liljevalchs Konsthall and Stockholm Konst, including  seminars/arranged talks. Our aim is also to engage other EU countries.

Synopsis of the Film: In an undisclosed place in central Stockholm a sort of state of exception seems to be in effect. During night time job seekers from different parts of the world live here. 
Daytime they share the place with workers, building the new Stockholm. Watch the film.

Idea and implementation
In an innovative and surprising way, we want to participate in the discussion on migration and human rights. We want to include and visualize a place and a life situation that many migrants have – and, as we mean, is becoming more common in Europe, but is often hidden from the public.

A mobile film sculpture with the shape of a house dives into the ground. The House will be presented on thirty public places in Sweden and Europe. The House is transported by truck and installed in a public space in the city for 1-7 days. In connection with this, different types of public conversations, workshops and theme days are organized. The bottom of the House consists of a 2.5m wide LED screen where a short film is displayed. (The screen works well in daylight. Built in the House there is an audio system). The film is also shown as part of the short film program RÖST (Voice) — Swedish Filminstitute and Swedish Television has invited established directors and new filmmakers to make short films to inspire political commitment, intitate discussions about democracy and make us vote. This year, Sweden is celebrating 100 years of democracy. The film is also on YT channels of Swedish Television and shown in schools and cinemas by Folkets Bio.

Work process
We have been filming in an area in central Stockholm; bordered by a highway on one side, a subway line on the other and a forest on the third, almost invisible to those passing bywhere a kind of state of emergency seems to prevail. Here, a group of people of different nationalities lives and works temporarily, they have ”fallen between the chairs” in the EU system. It is one of the many places in Europe that is becoming more common, but it is still a place we rarely see. Tomas, a well-dressed man, has slept here under a concrete loading dock together with the rats. Now he’s going to be evicted.

Tomas is upset and defends his rights as a human being.After eighteen years of work at a factory in Italy he became unemployed. Without a social safety net, he is now living on the street and owns nothing. Thomas’s speech is drastic. In a straightforward way he explains his situation. He wants to live an honest life and support his family, but it seems impossible. He urges society to bring him in court so that he can defend himself and get justice. Thomas is at the same time giving voice for others in the same situation. 

 

The House dives into the ground, people fall with the house, the boats on the Mediterranean are unable to carry people, the Swedish regulations or the EU’s regulatory system can’t uphold immigrants who come here via the Free movement of Persons.[1]

Artist’s intention and rationale
We believe that art can make visible and open up for constructive conversations. Therefore, the project, apart from the House and the short film, also includes stories from the audience, seminars and other forms of open conversation with participants from different fields of knowledge and backgrounds, linking home, homelessness, migration and human rights. Everyone has stories, thoughts and experiences about home and homelessness and can contribute, in some way, to collective thinking about this complex social problem.

Presenting the House in public places, we will also reach those who usually don´t see art and documentary films and don’t participate in the discussion about the EU or people’s movement across international borders. Planned events with invited guests aim to initiate meetings between groups that rarely speak. An important target group is young people and The House could for example be displayed on a schoolyard. In conjunction with this theme days at the school can be arranged.

We are convinced that the experience the audience gets through the project can become a seed for future engagement at different levels.

The House at Odenplan, Stockholm. Film screening on a LED screen. The House is covered with brass sheet. The film-sculpture is a collaboration between: Cecilia Parsberg, Erik Pauser and the architects David Martinez Escobar and Haval Murad from Detail Group. (Photos by Cecilia Parsberg.)

Contact:
Cecilia Parsberg 

Erik Pauser

Detail Group

The project has research status and has been peer reviewed by four professors at four different universities through the International Research Project Project Anywhere (about).
A Place in Europe received the highest score for innovative methodology at Kulturbryggan 2016 and a start grant. The project also received a project grant 2017-18 from The Swedish Arts Grants Comittee.

 

[1]Freedom of movement and residence for persons in the EU is the cornerstone of Union citizenship, established by the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992.  http://www.europarl.europa.eu/atyourservice/en/displayFtu.html?ftuId=FTU_4.1.3.html

 

Lives that have been separated – by an imagined structure – can also be connected – by a lived structure – but not without hope of something else.

Uppehållstillstånd / On Hold


Uppehållstillstånd

Kvinnan på fotot är en vandrare som övernattar enligt allemansrättens frihet under ansvar.[i]

Hon är skyddslös då hon sover och behöver därför enskildhet för att få vara ifred.

Hon inrättar ett tillfälligt hem i sin sovsäck.

 

Cecilia Parsbergs foto ”Uppehållstillstånd” hänger högt upp mellan två ekar i Nääs slottspark (maj-sept 2017). Det är gjort med tanke på att varje människa — 7,3 miljarder människor — behöver ett hem. Ett hem är inte bara ett fysiskt skydd mot väder och vind. ”Hem” är också hemkänsla; här kan jag vila och vara sårbar, här kan himlen öppna sig. Vad är ett hem för dig?

”Uppehållstillstånd” (C-print 63cm X 200cm på plexiglas).

 

On Hold

The woman on the photograph is a wanderer staying overnight according to ”Allemansrätten” — freedom with responsibility.i

She is defenceless when she sleeps and therefore needs solitude to be in peace.

She establishes a temporary home in her sleeping bag.

Cecilia Parsbergs photo ”On Hold” is hanging high between two oak trees in Nääs Park. ii It is made with the thought that every human being -— 7.3 billion people — needs a home. A home is not only a physical protection against the wind and weather. ”Home” is also home feeling; here I can rest and be vulnerable, here the sky can open. What is a home for you?

”On Hold” (C-print 63cm X 200cm on plexiglass).
Nääs slottspark, Sweden. May-Sept 2017.

_DSC2969webbQR

 

 

_DSC2951webbQR

 

_DSC2865webbQR

 

Nääs slottspark, Sweden. May-Sept 2017.

A story to the art work in Nääs park

When I received the exhibition assignment, I was asked to relate to an optional historical site/area along the migration route from Africa. I have chosen northwest Syria, in the outskirts of ancient Mesopotamia; the land between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. Between Aleppo and Idlib, there are about 40 ancient Ancient cities designated by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee as a unique cultural landscape for its architectural remains of homes, pagan temples, churches, cisterns, bathhouses, farms, from a number of civilizations: the Sumerian, Akkadian, Hittite, Hurritan, Babylonian, Medical, Assyrian and Persian. For centuries, people have traveled to visit this cultural heritage, one could say that in places where we share historical heritage there is a universal right of ”Allemansrätt” — a Swedish concept.iii It can also be said that for the pluralistic west, public access to inheritance is an individual right. In the ongoing war, several of these sites have been subjected to destruction or are at risk of being destroyed by Daesh (IS). Today, many of these sites are defended by a multi-ethnic and multireligious alliance YPG that shares belief that good communities are based on pluralism and that different religions can share sensual images and values.

 iv

YPG’s brigade with women is called The Women’s Protection Units.v One of the female soldiers says: ”The woman has been suppressed for more than 50,000 years and now we have the possibility of having our own will, our own power and our own personality.”vi This statement is discussed within the scholarly community, there are those who claim that the woman has been equal to the man for a certain period in the mesopotamian cultures. British historian Amanda Foreman claims that during the Sumerian civilization, women had the same power as men. Priestesses and priests had the same power in the temples.vii The woman could study just like men and the laws also protected her; In marriage, the woman could differ and had her own property, and in the business world there were no restrictions.viii During the open and outward Sumerian culture, astrology, mathematics and the writing language developed 3300 BC. The Sumerians invented the wheel and the plow and practiced crafts such as weaving, leatherwork, ceramics, masonry and metalworking. 2340 BC when Sumer was conquered by the Akkades and when the Assyrian empire spread in northern Mesopotamia, the women gradually lost their rights in society and were excluded from the public.ix The first written law about veil for women is from this time. Violence against women was legalised.x The art of this era testifies to a growing patriarchal culture, women are increasingly losing their freedom, says historian Amanda Foreman.

xi

Another one in YPG’s women warriors expresses why she defends her country, its historical places and what she wants to change: ”I see the Syrian revolution as not only a popular revolution of the people but also as a revolution of women .” These soldiers want to challenge existing structures between women and men, and to make new, more relevant ones. Their actions challenge the prevailing images of women and men.

When we live under similar conditions, common images appear, from (often) silent negotiations we make agreements on which images we will share. Visualizing communication on a sensible basis is often the artist’s mission. Can we more actively contribute to creating future images — express what we want in the future? These are questions that engage me as an artist.

Notes

ii Uppehållstillstånd means also Residency permit in Swedish.

v YPJ – The Women’s Protection Units, also known as Women’s Defense Units – is YPG’s female brigade, formed in 2012. YPJ consists of nearly 20,000 women who are fighting and make up about 40% of YPG. http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/Kurdish-Women-Turning-Kobani-into-a-Living-Hell-for-Islamic-State-20141014-0072.html

vi Since 2011, under the Syrian people’s revolution against the dictatorship, several of the sites in the Northern Syria area / cultural landscape designated by UNESCO to world heritage were hosted by Islamic groups including Daesh (IS) who oppose reverence and the presence of holy places and holy places and systematically destroys them.

viii The information is from ” The Ascent of Woman 1 Civilisation – BBC Documentary 2015” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPMocsqHnDo&app=desktop. The program is written by Dr. Amanda Foreman, who studied in 18th Century British History, at Oxford University in 1998. Foreman examines the world’s first laws founded in Mesopotamia. Here are questions about divorce, abortion and the use of veil. She tells, among other things, the story of Enheduanna, the world’s first-known author, and shows these writings.

x ”The 112 Assyrian laws that originate from the 11th century BC are in Berlin. Over half of them are about marriage and sex. ”(21: 40min).https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PPMocsqHnDo&app=desktop

 

How do you become a successful beggar in Sweden?

 

How do You Become a Successful Beggar in Sweden?
An inquiry into the images of begging and giving 2011 to 2016.
The dissertation, consisting of nine textchapters and six staged works, is available in both Swedish and English in a specially layouted digital presentation at beggingandgiving.se
 

Cecilia Parsberg’s first encounter with a begging person led her to spend five years investigating the new situation regarding begging and giving in Sweden. The premise is that every-day actions and reactions to another person can be made visible through aesthetics with ethical underpinnings. Her investigation takes place mainly in the urban landscape and in the media. 

 

– The images always constitute the point of departure for the reasoning and for the staged works. Images that separate as well as connect bodies, says Cecilia Parsberg and continues:

– Which images are at play in the social choreography of begging and giving?
In this context, how can images be activated in new ways? How can new images be generated?

She also believes that begging is a call to social interaction, and regardless of whether the giver interacts socially with the begging person on the street, the giver is implicated in the asymmetrical value systems of the European Union.

– In my first staged work I hire a professional market researcher to find out how a beggar in Sweden should behave to be successful. This becomes a film that I then show opposite another film in which begging people talk about how givers give.

This is followed by a number of staged works and an interdisciplinary theoretical discussion involving, among others, Judith Butler, Sara Ahmed, and Hannah Arendt, as well as a number of artistic works concerning how images – and bodily actions – are linked to the social image and the body politics. The arrangement of the choirs in the staged work The Chorus of Begging and The Chorus of Giving, indicates a space for social interaction and thus demonstrates a different order that demands different actions in terms of language, movement, and attitude toward each other.

– It’s a social choreography: when the choirs rehearsed and sung together a political form emerged. My hope is to make visible a space for action between the begging and the giving that can be used for continued ethical negotiations and new staged works.

 

The dissertation, consisting of nine textchapters and six staged works, is available in both Swedish and English in a specially layouted digital presentation at beggingandgiving.se

Cecilia Parsberg
E-mail: c.parsberg@gmail.com
Tel: +4670-328 68 19The dissertation is available in both Swedish and English at beggingandgiving.se

 

 

Below you find some documentation from the exhibitions (this is Not the dissertation itself)

All staged works in the dissertation has been exhibited at:

Solo exhibition at Skellefteå Konsthall, 30/10, 2016 –22/1, 2017.

Solo exhibition at Varbergs Konsthall, 3/10, 2015 – 10 Jan. 2016.

Solo exhibition at at Skövde Konsthall, 7/3–24/5, 2015. (Doctoral seminar (75%) s, 23/4)

Solo exhibition at Reflektera Konsthall, Väven, Umeå, 11/4–17/5, 2015. 

Group exhibition, MOTBILDER, public places, Göteborg, 23/8–14/9, 2014.

Each exhibition holds an open panel discussion with local politicians, civil organisation, and researchers. 

 

_DSC1487

Photo from Varbergs Konsthall. Look at This interview  filmed  by a TV-team from Rumania and parts of it was broadcasted there in May 2015.

 

 ***

Chapter 7. The Chorus of Begging and The Chorus of Giving

In The Chorus of Begging participates people who beg on the streets.  In The Chorus of Giving participates people who usually give to those begging on the streets. They sing – without words or music – feelings between begging and giving people.

_DSC1453 _DSC1445_DSC0765 _DSC0760

 

 

 

 

 

 

_DSC0896

_DSC0979

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Varbergs Konsthall, Skövde Konsthall, Väven – Umeå, 2015)

 

The political happens every day, between people in my neighborhood, people who share my existence. It is the very foundation of my artistic work. I see and feel a physical and mental distance between those on their knees on the street and passers by, between begging and giving people. The viewer is invited into that space “in-between”. There is a dialogue, or lack of dialogue, between the two choruses; between voices, facial expressions and bodies. The installation The Chorus of Giving and the Chorus of Begging is an embodiment of this experiential space. A mirror of the situation that everybody can experience on the street and refer to in their day-to-day lives. It is my hope that art will make visible this in-between space – which seems difficult to talk about – as a space for action; and thus contribute to the possibility for political action in and about this space.

 

In exhibitions, next to the chorus installation, this 53 min film is screened:

Chapter 7.1 On the production of The Chorus of Begging and The Chorus of Giving

Blackbox

The process of creating a choral work together these three days was also filmed and became a production film with an accompanying text where, among other things, ethics, aesthetics and work conditions are described. The piece has been shown in a number of public places and at seminars. It’s a visualisation of how it’s possible to create space for action. It shows both method and result.

There is a space of action between us. Art is a way to utilize this space to express the sensual, that which also is the basis for the political: in the affects and reactions in people. If art is about visualising this space of action then the political is about how it is possible to see which images that are relevant in this space, and to activate it.

There is a drama on the streets between between those who beg and those who give, or don’t give. Often both parties appear to want to communicate more, but can’t. The barriers are both emotional and due to language, and many cultural codes are at play. Images of each other, often generated by prejudice and ignorance, are set in play. These images we have – how we picture one another – need to be negotiated, as these images today create a violence against humans.

Last spring, I made contact with people begging on the streets and people who sometimes give to those begging, to ask them to sing – without words or music – the emotions between begging and giving people. The two choruses should stand opposite each other and sing in response to each other.

Three days of chorus training, with chorus director Jenny Roos and musician Pär Hagström, resulted in The Chorus of Giving and the Chorus of Begging, a filminstallation for two screens where the viewer stands between. It’s a dramatization of what is happening everyday on the streets in Sweden. To give and receive money is often a non-verbal transaction, which is why The Chorus of Giving and the Chorus of Begging sing without words.
photo documentation of the three days training (to see the film shown in the exhibition, contact me.)

 

The dissertation, consisting of nine textchapters and six staged works, is available in both Swedish and English in a specially layouted digital presentation at beggingandgiving.se

 

***

Chapter 2.2 What Images does the Giving face? & What Images does the Begging face?

_DSC1476

In the summer of 2011 I hire a professional market researcher to conduct a qualitative market survey in which givers in Sweden share their views on those who beg on the streets and answer my question about how the latter could beg more successfully. It’s a film. (16 min). Then I ask begging EU citizen’s give their views on giving in Sweden and how people act towards them. It’s a film. (57:30 min)

These two films are screened opposite each other. For the viewer in between ”images” – collective as well as individual, visual as well as linguistic – emerge, images that are set in play in the society in every meeting between giving and begging people on the street.

With what eyes do I see the begging person; what images are ”given” and which images can I make by what happens? With what eyes is the begging person seeing the giving person? We all have unconscious mental images deriving from values produced by the national culture, structures, decision processes and institutions but many performances are interchangeable, they are possible to destroy and it is possible to create a new image.

Inför vilka bilder sker tiggandet? & Inför vilka bilder sker givandet?
Med vilka ögon ser jag på hen som tigger; vilka bilder är på förhand givna och vilka bilder kan jag göra av det som sker? Med vilka ögon ser den som tigger på givaren? Vi bär alla på omedvetna mentala bilder som härrör från värderingar producerade av nationell kultur, strukturer, beslutsprocesser och institutioner men många föreställningar är utbytbara, de är möjliga att förstöra och det är möjligt att skapa sig en ny bild.

 

***

The dissertation, consisting of nine textchapters and six staged works, is available in both Swedish and English in a specially layouted digital presentation at beggingandgiving.se

 

Chapter 8. Places II

“Sleeping places in central Stockholm, January 2015” is a series of photographs of some of the many sleeping places that are furnished on the streets. I feel like I am looking straight into bedrooms without walls, ceilings, beds, and closets. It’s a space that should be private.   “Closets on the Street” is a series of photographs that shows how bedding and belongings are stored during the day._DSC1458

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 3.1 Places I

A selection of 30 photographs, snapshots from 2012-2015 when I passed by. Perhaps the begging person has gone for lunch with their friends and family. They have told us they tend to gather and share so that everyone gets food.

IMG_4722IMG_4490

IMG_4011

 See all photos in the dissertation. The dissertation, consisting of nine textchapters and six staged works, is available in both Swedish and English in a specially layouted digital presentation at beggingandgiving.se

 

 

 

 

 

 

 The dissertation, consisting of nine textchapters and six staged works, is available in both Swedish and English in a specially layouted digital presentation at beggingandgiving.se

 *4*

Chapter 4. Body on Street ( a photo manifestation )

A selection of 22 photos generated in an an ongoing photo-demonstration with and by giving people. The begging is fairly new entrant into the street space and there are many who do not know how to relate to this, physically and mentally. How does it feel? I experience a distance, almost a chasm between me and those who are begging. Overall, it feels like the street’s atmosphere has changed; something has happened in the social climate that feels substantial and yet not defined. Is it solidarity, the ability to be touched? How does it feel for you? Would you like to participate? 

Every exhibition an open community workshop is held by the artis and the new photographs become a part of Body on Street, the exhibition.

 

_DSC1490 _DSC1401 _DSC1399 _DSC1398

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Under each photo is the name and title, to show what she represents in the community. My title is an artist, which is also a designation for my actions. See all photos here: kropp på gata / body on street

Titel: Torben, Eskildsen, kördirigent, Köpenhamn
Titel: Torben, Eskildsen, kördirigent, Köpenhamn
Title: Kent Sjöström, Senior lecturer, PhD Theatre Arts, Theatre Arts, Malmö University
Title: Kent Sjöström, Senior lecturer, PhD Theatre Arts, Theatre Arts, Malmö University

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

The chorus installation had it’s first screening outside, in six containers during three weeks.

Documentation from the exhibition MOTBILDER

In the group exhibition by ICIA, Anna van der Vliet, artistic director, presented a new film and sound installation by Cecilia Parsberg  Gothenburg, 23/8-14/9, 2014. (behind Röda Sten Konsthall)

Swedish Radio made a reportage (30 mins) during the whole work-process.
TV showed the installation in Kulturnyheterna, (SVT, 22/8, 2014) and it gives an idea of thephysical experience of the installation.

 

Left screen showing The Chorus of Begging

 

Right screen showing The Chorus of Giving

 

A film ”On the production of the Chorus of Begging and the Chorus of Giving” is screened in the entrance-exit-container, (58mins).
The film is a documentation from the training and interaction of the choirs, day by day. A text belongs to the film where I describe the practical and theoretical context.

This film is not open access, but you can view a photo documentation here http://chorusofgivingchorusofbegging.tumblr.com/
Contact me if you would like to know and see more.

The chorus work alone is also shown as street-screenings, and the soundtrack is released on Spotify 02.2014.

The dissertation, consisting of nine textchapters and six staged works, is available in both Swedish and English in a specially layouted digital presentation at beggingandgiving.se

***

I have held a number of lectures on the project since 2012, and among them maybe the most important was this one:

Lecture at FEAD, 26/3 2015, Göteborg, (European Social Fund)

There is a drama on the streets between between those who beg and those who give, or don’t give. Often both parties appear to want to communicate more, but can’t. The barriers are both emotional and due to language, and many cultural codes are at play. Images of each other, often generated by prejudice and ignorance, are set in play. These images we have – how we picture one another – need to be negotiated, as these images today create a violence against humans.

There is a space of action between us. Art is a way to utilize this space to express the sensual, that which also is the basis for the political: in the affects and reactions in people. If art is about visualising this space of action then the political is about how it is possible to see which images that are relevant in this space, and to activate it.

Cecilia-4

The lecture is published at Socialmedicinsk tidskrift.
(about the journal in English)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* * *

In January 2014, I had a 50% doctoral seminar and in addition to this I had an open guest studio at


 The National Museum of World Culture

 

* * *

The dissertation, consisting of nine textchapters and six staged works, is available in both Swedish and English in a specially layouted digital presentation at beggingandgiving.se

Glänta/Clandestino

Glänta/Clandestino

10.06.09 Peter Ekwiri back in Sweden!

In 2003 Glänta magazine travels to Ghana in order to make a new issue.

Aleksander Motturi and Cecilia Parsberg met Peter Ekwiri, one of the many Asylum seekers who were deported to Ghana despite the fact that he fled to Sweden from Sudan. They met him in a former slave forts in Accra which now works as a prison where he had been imprisoned for three years without trial.

This meeting was also one of the main reasons that the Clandestino Festival began eight years ago.
http://clandestinofestival.org/2011/

Peter Ekwiri is now back in Sweden, and the case is once again relevant, as he is threatened with a new deportation order, without means of redress, for the abuse that Swedish authorities exposed him to.

Clandestino Talks will on the occasion of this present one public testimony from him in hopes of shedding new light on the Swedish refugee policy practice.

Cecilia Parsberg is since 2003 a member of the editing board for GLÄNTA a journal of History of Ideas, Philosophy, Literature and Fine Arts: www.glanta.orghttp://www.eurozine.com

Networking on the wall

Networking on the wall

An essay by Cecilia Parsberg. Published in Glänta 1-2/2006. An English version can be found on Eurozine http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2006-05-30-parsberg-en.html  (See also my reportage for  KOBRA, Swedish TV, 2006)

Since 2003, graffiti artists worldwide have been leaving their marks on the Palestinian side of the demarcation wall being built between Palestinian and Israeli territory.
Swedish artist Cecilia Parsberg’s photographs record what she calls ”an international multitude, a writing−carpet”. ”I am primarily interested in the phenomena of people coming from other countries to paint on the wall, and that they paint on one side of it,” she says. ”The core of this type of network is the connection between the place and activity, the clash of different aesthetic expressions, that there is no typical graffiti−aesthetic.” Are Parsberg’s photographs evidence of a larger movement of aesthetic resistance to the changing value systems of globalization in art and society? Cecilia Parsberg Networking on the wall Palestinian artists and cultural workers talk about the ”art” drawn on the wall demarcating Palestinian and Israeli territory. Their opinions are revealing of the wall’s significance in the Palestinian experience and the function of ”network as resistance”.

 

One hundred policemen cannot attain what beauty
is able to bring about in a violent person.
Edi Rama, Minister of Culture, Albania

 

In October 2005, I set off to Palestine and the wall that has become a place for collective activism and maybe also art. I bring with me Giorgio Agamben’s State of Exception, which I have been reading and reading, hoping to understand how his theories make sense in reality. I want to meet cultural workers in Palestine and listen to their views on the art on the wall. I want to know what they think about the international artists coming there and painting on it. I wonder if the multitude of works can be seen as a kind of collective creativity, a network. I am also curious why the wall is painted on the Palestinian side but hardly on the Israeli side.

 

  Ramalla check-point, Palestinian side, 2006

The Israeli wall is built on the Palestinian side of ”the green line”, the border between Israeli and Palestinian territory agreed on in 1967. The wall winds across Palestinian farmland, which is excavated as the wall is built. Construction started in 2003. On 9 July 2004, it was declared by the International Court of Justice to be in breach of international standards, but that has not prevented construction continuing. When the wall is completed it will be 670 km long.

The wall is not just a political barrier. It has also become a place for international and collective artworks, a surface where networking happens by itself, without the networkers knowing each other, or even the person whose image they are painting onto. The wall is a place of action and a place with great attraction for artists. Many artworks are made about it, but I am interested in the art that is made on it. The question is why artists and others from throughout the world come to paint or write on the wall. ”To show law in its non-relation to life and life in its non-relation to law means to open a space between them for human action, which once claimed for itself the name of ’politics'”, Agamben writes. Is it in this sphere that these artists are active?

Abu Dis, Palestinian side, 2006

The construction of the wall implements a state of exception, a temporary suspension of legal rights. The notion is juridical and can be activated when a country is struck by natural disasters, strikes, or civil disorder. Agamben claims that today, in practice, the entire world is in a permanent state of exception. This state is an empty space with another value system than the ordinary jurisdictional order. It is made manifest when, for example, the police stop buses and demand that passengers show their papers; when people with the wrong skin or hair colour are arrested as suspects.On 20 November I meet Galit Eliat in Jerusalem. She is the head of Digital Arts in Tel Aviv and engaged in a big project about the art on the wall, where she is curating both Israeli and Palestinian artists. She replies to my question whether there is any art on the Israeli side with the short answer that Israel wants the wall; why then, would they paint on it? For Palestinians, the wall prevents them working in Israel and visiting their relatives on the other side. (They must obtain special ID papers, and that is not easy.)

However, there are rumours about an Israeli settlement that commissioned some of their Russian inhabitants to paint landscapes on the wall. There is also a sector of a highway where stone blocks were delivered with a printed landscape. That the wall is built on Palestinian land is an additional reason why there is no Israeli activity on it. It is built closer to the Palestinian rather than Israeli residential areas, except for the densely populated areas around Bethlehem and Jerusalem. The Israelis are also creating a no man’s land on their side; they have constructed military patrol roads and a landing strip for military aircraft outside Ramallah and other military bases.

Ramallah check point, from the Israeli side, 2006

Civilian motorways are also built with high grass-covered embankments in front of the wall.

Motorway on the Israeli side, 2006

On the Palestinian side, the wall separates farmland from residences, which has caused confrontations in many places. It is above all at these places that I find paintings and texts on the wall.

Graffiti by unknown people, Abu Dis, 2006

From Jerusalem I continue to Bethlehem where there are some very large murals. I photograph them. There is no one around except for a couple of armed Israeli soldiers patrolling on the other side of the checkpoint. And, of course, the surveillance cameras. How could anyone make these gigantic paintings given this surveillance? The largest is perhaps twenty metres wide and eight metres high. It is a very impressive experience to stand in front of the ugly grey wall and the paintings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graffiti by unknown people, Betlehem, 2006

One of those who have painted is Banksy, a London-based artist who came here half a year ago and painted on the wall at around ten different places. He has not signed them, but I know them because he has become well known in the Western art world. When I ask people in Palestine and Israel, they don’t seem to know who he is. In some places, the wall looks like a gigantic scribble board, or solely like a big ugly concrete wall. The wall is ”the ultimate tourist site for a graffiti artist”, as Banksy put it.
In Ramallah and nearby villages, I find two-hundred-metre stretches of wall with paintings and writings. It is an international multitude, a writing-carpet. I can’t call it scribbles, but is it art? Art is a way to represent and communicate, a way to make contact with oneself. But the paintings on the wall are also creative attempts to transcend the political limitations of the wall.

 


Graffiti by Banksy, Abu Dis, 2006


Graffiti by unknown people, Abu Dis, 2006

I am surprised that after a few days at the wall, I feel happy, strong, and maybe even hopeful. I can only explain this as the influence of the art on the wall. The effect reminds me of love messages, like ”I love you” cut into a tree. But these activists and artists have not been concerned to leave their names; it’s not authorship that’s important. There are no tags, either – images and texts melt together. Is all this an attempt to create art or meaning collectively?

Ramallah, the morning of 22 November 2005. I am on my way to a meeting with Faten Farhat, head of the Sakakini Cultural Centre. I pass Ramallah City. The shops are not open; they are usually open at this time, but today is a day of national mourning. I meet a tired Faten. She says she has been up all night because one of their employees has been killed in the bomb attack in Amman, Jordan. The day before, they had been planning which flowers he would have had at his wedding. He was thirty-six.We start to talk about the wall. As head of the Sakaini Cultural Centre and active curator for artists on an international art arena, she receives piles of suggestions from art institutions and artists for art projects on the wall. Most she rejects. One of the most spectacular suggestions came from a clothes designer in New York, who wanted to put on a fashion show at the wall, together with top models. She smiles sadly and says that many don’t even try to imagine how the wall affects the Palestinians. Would Palestinians go to the wall that prevents them going to work, the wall that separates families, to watch a fashion show with the latest fashion from New York? She is not against the fact that art is made on the wall, but she thinks that the projects have to derive from an ethical perspective. She thinks there is a risk that the wall becomes institutionalized, that it will be accepted as something that will stay forever. But she also says that she often leaves the project propositions further to artists in Ramallah, that she doesn’t have time to be fully updated on how they develop. She has, herself, only seen the wall twice – there are many who choose not to see it at all. Her hand moves from her belly to her throat: ”It exists within us”.

Cecilia Parsberg: There are a lot of paintings on the wall. Israelis have also left messages on the wall. What do you think about collaborative works between Israeli and Palestinian artists?

Fatin Farahat: As an institution, we don’t work with Israelis, not because there are no good Israelis, but simply because we need to be consistent. For example, an artist wanted to show Palestinian and Israeli artworks in Paris. He came to me wanting help. I said: the board and I have decided that, until a more just solution exists, there is no need to work with Israeli artists. This is not to say that we don’t encourage our artists to work with Israelis, or that we don’t allow them to. It’s up to them. I tell them that the first thing they need to do is to have a statement, a political statement from the Israeli artists, because as far as I am concerned, one of the artists could be from Likud [the Israeli rightwing party], so try to work on a joint statement that actually says that occupation is wrong, that there is something called the right of returnees, that the wall is wrong, and that that is the basis upon which we want to work together. So in every joint project, and this is the most difficult part, to get the partners to say, prior to working, that they have a very similar, if not the same, political vision of the situation. Otherwise, if you start working with different political visions, the human contact is going to be almost impossible, and the concept of the project will be destroyed. It’s much more difficult for art institutions to make joint works because it’s very difficult to reach these kind of agreements. Sometimes it’s easier on an individual level. There is another thing: if, say, an Israeli institution receives government subsidies, we have a problem. Not with the people, but with the government. If the subsidies come from the Israeli Ministry of Culture, which marginalizes Palestinians culturally, I really don’t want to work with them.

CP: Are Palestinian artists in general aware of this? And would you say that international artists in general are aware that art plays an important political role?

FF: It depends on the artists. For example, I see awareness among those who come and live with Palestinians for a while. Art is a dynamic process in the public sense, too. I am totally in favour of public art, not in the sense of putting up a public monument in the town, but by having the community participate in the creation of the artwork. International artists – I see it all the time – come to me with an idea that looks beautiful on paper, but the moment they see reality they rethink the project, because reality dictates facts. If the focus is the community as such, you need to know it, and to really know the people takes time and patience.
I know the power of the media, and I would like to see models that show real investigation and real commitment to the political issues that are actually ruling the area. International artists need to spend the time you are spending to know the people, to get a feeling for the place. I know from many of my international friends working in Palestine, after two months they have to get out, the siege is getting to them even though they have more freedom of mobility than us.

The next day, at the Art Cafe in Ramallah, I meet Akram Safadi, a Palestinian artist and photographer.
CP: What do you think about the art on the wall?
Akram Safadi: On one side, I think it’s useless, and on another side, I appreciate the political context behind it. I appreciate people coming here in solidarity with us. It’s a popular form of civil resistance against the wall. People still insist on practicing this form of resistance, it’s part of a mass action.It’s adding something human, warm, to the inhuman background the wall constitutes. The designs and paintings transform the surroundings, but the wall itself exists as such and must not become part of a normality. It’s something strange that should be resisted.

Graffiti by unknown people, Abu Dis, 2006

CP: How do you see the role of Fine Arts in an international perspective?
AS:
 Art grows but it doesn’t change anything. It’s more important that the control of distribution of art and the production of art be seen by the public. Media is too much in control of what is seen by people; it doesn’t promote plurality. My opinions are always manufactured by the information that is selected and delivered by the media. That puts a big question mark behind the concept of democracy.

That evening, I have an appointment with the poet Kifah Fanni and the artist and animator Amer Shomali at Stones, an exclusive bar situated in downtown Ramallah.
CP: What do you think about beauty? Do you think the paintings make the wall beautiful?

Amer Shomali: I want the wall to be destroyed, and as an artist I think that when one does something on the wall, it should be like a protest against it, not a piece of art. The important thing is the message. If you build a relation between the wall and your artwork, then you want neither to be destroyed.

Kifah Fanni: I don’t believe the painting is institutionalizing the wall; I don’t see it as acceptance of the wall. Especially the painting where the wall is removed like a curtain showing a view behind, or the one that draws a window on the wall, or Amer’s animated film, where a boy draws a wall on the wall and a dove flies through. It’s a virtual view; the Israelis can limit our sight, but they can’t limit our imagination.

Graffiti by Banksy, Abu Dis, 2006

CP: Do you think the art will have a political impact? I can’t help thinking that if paintings were also made on the Israeli side, it would influence the discussion there.

KF: No, it would be totally different. On the other side, they see the wall as constructive. There could be good paintings made on the other side, but only as absolute negatives, you know, the opposite message.

CP: But the paintings you mention were made by a London-based artist. He might as well have made them on the Israeli side.

KF: Then it would have been other paintings. You can’t paint the same on the other side.

CP: Why not?

KF: Because it’s their will to build this wall; it’s against our will. From our side it’s inappropriate: we want to demolish this wall. If an artist wants to express an Israeli will or aspiration on their side of the wall, he or she would draw another wall on the wall. These people think we are explosive, that we have this explosiveness.

CP: Do you know if there are any Palestinian artists who want to go to the Israeli side and paint something?

KF: You would have to ask if there is any Palestinian who is allowed to go to the Israeli side… I am not underestimating the importance of art, but on a certain level, it’s not a matter of taste. If you are hungry, you eat anything – taste will not be the criteria. And this is how it is; first you move, then you decide if you want to go or not.

CP: But the criteria, and I have to insist on this point, for someone who lives in London, Sweden, Germany, or Italy, and comes here to paint, is different. He or she can choose which side of the wall to paint on.

KF: Are they allowed to?

CP: No, but when did that stop an artist? Graffiti art has been illegal since it was born.

KF: Yes, but you talk about graffiti art in a civil context. Being caught here is not the same as being caught writing graffiti in London. You are convicted for that, you can die for that – for writing words on a wall. It’s not like expressing socialist or capitalist views. It’s about living or not living, the contradiction here is too strong. When a Palestinian goes to write graffiti, they wear a mask, with someone on guard. It’s a big deal. We used to do it when we had poor access to media. In the old days we had typewriters, and each typewriter on the West Bank had a serial number. The Israeli government had these numbers, so it was extremely dangerous. If you had to print pamphlets, it was made with the same degree of danger.

CP: Still, if you are a person from another country and you think ”fuck this wall, I don’t like it, I want to destroy it”, you can choose where to paint your message. That would be to direct a protest that would face the Israelis.

AS: We don’t have that choice. Try yourself and tell me what you have drawn.

KF: There’s a significance that precedes the drawings on the Palestinian side. For the majority of the people on the Palestinian side, it’s allowed, even if it’s not always appreciated. But on the other side, you have a hostile environment.

AS: The Israelis don’t have contact with the wall as we have, because the wall is mostly far from their houses.

CP: Why is it far away from the people?

AS: Because they want more land without people on their side. Most of the Israelis don’t know what the wall looks like, only those people living in distant settlements, like near Jenin. In the Israeli cities they have only heard about the wall in the media. Here in Ramallah we have daily contact with the wall, we are touching it. The people in Tel Aviv won’t go to Bethlehem to paint on the wall. On the other side of the wall there is nothing built, because it was recently, before the wall, our land. Now they are constructing roads. If you drew something on the wall on the Israeli side, there wouldn’t be anyone to see it. What’s the point then?

CP: Just outside the wall at the Kalandia checkpoint [the checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem] the Israelis have built a runway for military aircraft. It’s a security area guarded by stray dogs, really dangerous even to photograph.

AS: It’s useless to draw on the other side. You can reach the Israelis better through media.

KF: It becomes my physical border, my own limitation. Before it’s national, it’s an assault on my individual view.

Graffiti, Betlehem, 2006

AS: It’s not an ethical problem. Maybe it is for foreigners, but for me, it’s an existential problem.

CP: But an art project doesn’t have to be ethical?

KF: Those on the Israeli side willing to make a statement can make joint projects with us. Foreigners come here with their free imaginations, they don’t know the limitations, they want to start a revolution, they don’t know what’s really going on. We spent too much time being lectured to on how to make a revolution, but those lectures don’t bear in mind the forty years of occupation. The idea of revolution is out of context. But sometimes we have to learn from the young, because this long conflict has been a bad experience for us. When a child sees a snake, they want to touch it; when an adult sees a snake, they run away. The Palestinians who praise the intifada are the innocent ones. They are like the foreigners who come here and cannot believe their eyes. That’s why they have extremist ideas and concepts. This is what’s happening to the Palestinian youth, who are checked on each checkpoint. This is not acceptable, we are all born innocent and naive. This is why the intifada took place seven to ten years after the first: when a generation reaches, let’s say, the age of wisdom.

AP: I made a book and animation collecting thousands of drawings from Palestinian schoolchildren. The way that children express themselves on the issue of the wall is very innocent, pure, irrational. It’s not logical to destroy the wall with your naked hands, or with your eyes, or to open a box and find Jerusalem. I imagine myself trying to deal with the wall, looking for the simple ways.

Graffiti by children in Ramallah, 2006

KF: Artists have to go back to childhood, childhood is the master of art. Before we regain innocence, we cannot produce art.

AP: Foreigners are innocent due to a different setting, they don’t live our conflict, our setting. We are born into a place where there are checkpoints, we can’t imagine a life without checkpoints. For international visitors it’s possible to imagine a life without occupation.

KF: People should dare to dream. International art projects and ideas should dream about destroying the wall. I have not examined further if collaborative works have been made between Palestinians and Israelis, or what their agreement looks like. Networks don’t necessarily have to cross borders. I am primarily interested in the phenomena of people coming from other countries to paint on the wall, and that they paint on one side of it. The core of this type of network is the connection between the place and the activity, the clash of different aesthetic expressions, that there is no typical graffiti-aesthetic.

Eugenio Molini works with Managing Diversity, a network of consultants specialised in issues of diversity. Back in Sweden, I ask him how he defines a network. He answers that networks are based on passion, that the networkers act through ”swarming”. The driving force can be personal or collective; the organizational principle is founded on engagement and responsibility, responsibility for one’s own actions. While participants in a group or a constellation are ”in” or ”out”, the individuals in a network are connected or disconnected, which in principle means that the network develops into something else. Molini argues that the need for resistance doesn’t have to be the reason a network is created – an example of the contrary is the pilgrimage.

Graffiti by Palestinian artist, Ramallah, 2006

Inside and outside Palestine, a Palestinian artist is first a representative of Palestine. There are few actions strong enough to go beyond that role. But if this is the case, what do the anonymous artists who paint on the wall represent? Are they participants in a bigger movement reacting to the changing value systems of globalization within art and society? The nine-metre-high Israeli wall separating people from people seems to function as blotting paper for artists and activists, at the same time as being a manifestation of a hidden agenda that doesn’t care about international law. Many of the paintings show openings in the wall: doors, windows, sky; they ”dissolve the wall” and could, in a way, be read as metaphors for communication, for the Internet and the digital boxes that transmit all the channels in the world. (Digital television is more common in Palestinian homes than in Swedish). It is not the aesthetic expression that is the mutual denominator, it is the message.

Graffiti by Banksy, Betlehem, 2006

The Israeli wall is not the only wall being built worldwide. Are walls being built primarily to separate poor and rich? The illusion of freedom is a necessity for every person, but freedom for a poor non-European may be to get inside the European wall, while freedom for a rich European is to keep that person away. On their album The Wall (1979), Pink Floyd portrayed a school system where corporal punishment was still normal. The wall they sang about was a mental wall, a border behind which society exercised sanctioned violence, all according to the rules of the school. But if the difference between the system of rules and life is too big, a kind of violence is exercised on what the citizen understands as justice. Life is, according to Pink Floyd, a product of the machine. ”Welcome my son, welcome to the machine. Where have you been? It’s all right, we know where you’ve been. You’ve been in the pipeline […] And you didn’t like school and you know you are nobody’s fool.”

Around the Israeli wall, two opposite forces act, one that institutes and makes, and one that deactivates and deposes. ”Bare life”, writes Giorgio Agamben, ”is a product of the machine and not something that pre-exists it, just as law has no court in nature or in the divine mind. Life and law, anomie and nomos, auctoritas and potestas, result from the fracture of something to which we have no other access than through the fiction of their articulation and the patient work that, by unmasking this fiction, separates what it had claimed to unite.”

Pink Floyd sings about an invisible wall, a wall is taking shape on the record. The Israeli wall is concrete, which doesn’t hinder the art and fiction partly dissolving it. In both cases, art is a political action, an action that severs the nexus between violence and law, and instead opens a space for negotiation between life and right.

Graffiti by Banksy, Betlehem, 2006

an essay by Cecilia Parsberg, also published at:
http://www.eurozine.com/articles/2006-05-30-parsberg-en.html

 

Reference:

State of exception, Giorgio Agamben, The University of Chicago Press (2005)

http://banksy.co.uk/

Cecilia Parsberg reportage for  KOBRA, Swedish TV, (2006) on the paintings on the wall with focus on BANKSYS graffiti.

 

This is the Wall

 

This is for the archive, the front page of the former site
http://this.is/TheWall
active between 2003 and 2012 when the wall was built.

When Israel built it we were there documenting. The site contained documentation of the wall, interviews with activists and facts.

TheWall skärmavb1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TheWall skärmavb2

 

 

 

 

 

 

The site visualized with photos and maps how present the wall was for the citizens on the palestinian occupied areas and how Israel had made non-go areas for civilians on the Israeli side – fenced it off.

PastedGraphic-11

See photos of the wall and the art on the wall in the project Networking on the Wall