Luleå Biennial 2020:
Time on Earth

Information regarding Covid-19

Last chance The Luleå Biennial 2020: Time on Earth

Wednesday February 10, 16~20 and Saturday February 13–Sunday February 14, 12~16
Galleri Syster is open. Group show with Augusta Strömberg, Susanna Jablonski and Ana Vaz.

Thursday February 11–Sunday February 14, 12~16
Havremagasinet länskonsthall in Bodenis open. Group show with Beatrice Gibson, Susanna Jablonski, Birgitta Linhart, Fathia Mohidin, Charlotte Posenenske, Tommy Tommie and Danae Valenza.

Saturday February 13–Sunday February 14, 14~18
The former prison Vita Duvan is open with an electro acoustic installation by Maria W Horn.

Saturday February 13, 15~19
The artist Markus Öhrn and the poet David Väyrynens sound installation "Bikt" is exhibited on the ice by Residensgatan in Luleå. Listen to older generations of Tornedal women and their testimonies.

Book your visit via Billetto. Drop in is possible as far as space allows.

For those of you who do not have the opportunity to physically visit the Luleå Biennale on site, a radio show including artist talks, sound works and specially written essays will be on stream on Saturday February 13–Sunday February 14. Visit our radio page here.

The exhibitions at Norrbotten's Museum, Luleå konsthall, Välkommaskolan in Malmberget and the Silver Museum are unfortunatly closed.

“Realist activity”
Editorial by Karin Bähler Lavér, Emily Fahlén och Asrin Haidari
Detail from ”The Orchestra”, 2020, Susanna Jablonski.
“Art in Dark Times: On the Conditions for Gathering, Thought and Action” at Blackis People’s house in Svartöstaden, February 2019.
Collective reading from “Sabotagemanualerna” with Ida Börjel, Blackis People’s house in Svartöstaden, February 2019.
Audience “Art in Dark Times: On the Conditions for Gathering, Thought and Action” at People’s Cinema in Luleå, February 2019.

“The intention of art”, James Baldwin wrote, “is to lay bare the questions hidden by the answers.” Fjodor Dostojevskij wrote that “we have all the answers. It is the questions we do not know.” Willy Kyrklund wrote “I seek the question to which an answer is life itself”. And so art happens? 

In February 2019, during the final weekend of the reawakened Luleå Biennial the antifascist conference Art in Dark Times: on the Conditions of gathering, thought and action took place. The theme of the conference referred to the theme of the 2018 Luleå Biennial – curated by Emily Fahlén, Asrin Haidari and Thomas Hämen- which brought forth darkness as a reality and a metaphor in art. The gathering examined what is contained in the assertion that “we are living in dark times”. The first day of the conference had an activist angle, the second testing ways and limits of aesthetics, while the third day was more historically reflective. Presentations by the newly formed study group The Aesthetics of the Popular Fronts were held at Folkets bio [The People’s Cinema] on Nygatan 1 in Luleå. The ambiance in the room was rather merry and somewhat hung over. At this point, most people in the room had become acquainted with one another. Soft brown armchairs in 70’s upholstery, instant coffee and hummus in the foyer, a receding storm in the distance.

The study group had presented their work. They spoke of the Popular Fronts: the political coalitions of left and liberal parties that had emerged during the late 30’s as a means to create a unified bloc against the burgeoning fascism. The study group emphasized that their goal was not to find simple analogies, confirmations that now is just like it was then, that “the 30’s is repeating itself”. Rather, their work aimed to position two historical moments against one another, as to discern differences as well as similarities. And by those means -comparing the present with the past- perhaps gain a clearer image of the distinctive character of the present. Further, they asked the question “Is there a tradition of antifascist unity with whom we can still identify?” The seminar presented speculations derived from the group’s ongoing and fluid research. 

This lasted for two-three hours and then the audience, sitting in the cinema chairs, engaged in a discussion. One person (Stefan Jonsson) asked the question (in relation to the final presentation held by Jörgen Gassilewski on the so called realism debate in the German literary world, sparked by the theoretician Georg Lukács in 1934): What could realism mean today?

Right here at this moment we can press pause and zoom in. The question lingered in our minds and triggered a beginning of something continued: what would it mean if we collectively put this question into practice? Together with artists, playwrights and authors we commonly let it echo on into 2020, and into this year’s biennial that we have chosen to name Time on Earth

However, a collective effort has indeed been greatly tested during this year of the pandemic, as we have not been able to gather in one physical space and create opportunities for community. Little did we know, in February 2019, that a public gathering in 2020 would be regarded as something obsolete. 

For this initial issue of the Lulu-Journal, we decided to let Stefan Jonsson, researcher and author, develop his thoughts stemming from the question he posed on February the 17th 2019 in the dim light of the cinema. We have also invited the poet Ida Börjel -she too a participant in the Conference of Dark Times- to contribute an excerpt of the work she performed at Blackis Folkets hus in Svartöstaden: The Sabotage Manuals. This issue can be regarded as a bridge between two points in time and a liaison between the two biennials led by Emily Fahlén and Asrin Haidair, this year co-curated with Karin Bähler Lavér. 

By way of conclusion and by way of introduction, we would like to assert something: Do not accept the tiresome answer “it is not realistic.” This statement is nothing but an attempt to block up our imagination. It is the answer that refuses to lay bare our questions. Which, neither politically nor artistically, is a passable route, during our time on earth. 

Karin Bähler Lavér, Emily Fahlén and
Asrin Haidari, editors and curators of the Luleå Biennial 2020

This issue of the Lulu-Journal is dedicated to the artist Marion von Osten (1963~2020), for her tireless clarity, wisdom and solidarity.

Radio 65.22 is an auditory cross section of the biennial’s theme and contents, which amplifies and makes accessible written texts, framed situations and artistic voices. Radio 65.22 also enables an encounter with chosen parts of the Luleå Biennial’s activities for those who cannot experience the biennial in situ.

With Radio 65.22, we want to inscribe ourselves into an experimental and exploratory radio tradition, where the media itself becomes a platform for our ideas on radio and its capacity to depict and mirror the world around us. The task of Radio 65.22 is to tell of reality, in further ways that may not be possible through the image or the text.

Under Fragments: Time on Earth you will find radio programmes and sound pieces in different genres and forms that reflect this year’s biennial in various ways. Spirit of Place is a touring series of literary conversations on language and place. The culture journalist Kerstin Wixe takes us along to places that have played a significant part in an author’s stories, or carries the story’s history. Woven Songs is a deepening series of radio programmes that accentuate singing, the voice and the role of storytelling in the creation of new world views and orders, produced in collaboration with Public Art Agency Sweden.

Listen, reflect, enjoy!