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On the 14-15 May 2008 me and my dear fellows participated in the seminar on cultural planning and art in public space at Gävle Art Centre.

We presented our just-opened web site – initiative named the New Beauty Council – and the first theme we discussed with professors and students from  Architectural school in Stockholm namely gender interpretation of the city surrounding. 

Our project is initially a reply to the Stockholm City Beauty Council – the organisation, which has a mandate to decide how Stockholm should look like. We disagree with its conservative understanding what is beautiful, so we want to open up the place where other stories of the beauty can be spoken. 

 

 

 

My group WIRE, an MA international program in Critical Writing and Curatorial Practice, just finished the course “No Patron, No Project”, run by artist and Konstfack professor Ronald Jones and free lance curator Stella d’Ailly.
During this course we had to create a new art institution plan (including vision for the future, mission statement, marketing plan, education program, and the press tactics), which could please Peter B. Lewis, the ex-patron of Guggenheim.
We plan it as a research organisation where exhibitions are curated by the teams, including artists, craft people, designers, scientists from different fields as well as everyone who can contribute into the project.
The aim – try to go around the contemporary art dilemma: either to be too commercial – gallery and fair petted art, or to fall too much into social criticism, which depends on tax money and grants that is controlled by the state.
During our exam the art life in Stockholm stopped since most heavy weight art professionals came to evaluate our work: David Neuman (director of Magasine 3), Magnus af Petersens (Moderna Museet curator), Lovisa Lönnebo (Moderna Museet head of marketing and communication), Maria Morberg (Moderna Museet PR), Ulf Eriksson (Moderna Museet education program).
The case study was totally fictional.
My question to the jury was – why do we practice to think about imaginary institution if there are many real once in Stockholm. And should museums in our days take a responsibility to run a serious, academic level program in cooperation with universities and colleges? Especially in the such a practice oriented field as curatorship.
Of course I did not get any answer, but I hope at least it was taken in consideration.

The question which I was interested in “Going public” project – who establishes new rituals for public art sculptures? Can one person do it or not? Just for fun I made a little photo project where we tried to start a new tradition at Telefonplan, Stockholm – place where Ericsson factory and other industrial buildings are situated as well as Konstfack.

telefonplan6
If you sit down together at the same time on the sculpture and look at each other – make a wish! If you make the same wish it will be realised.

telefonplan2
Make a wish when you put your finger into Ericsson’s ear: the deeper the better.

telefonplan3
Run around the flowerbed 100 times and you will get married within a year.

telefonplan4
If you manage to embrace the tree any of your wishes will be realised.

telefonplan5
But if you have not succeeded to embrace the tree drop some coins on the hatch and your wish will be realised with the probability 50% x 50%.

Going public intro

For “Going Public” I made a booklet. This is introduction. Other texts – which are interviews with Dan Karlholm (the Professor and the Head of Art History, Södertörn University College), Galina Lindquist (an Associate Professor at the Department of Social Anthropology, The Stockholm University), Jacob Östberg (a postdoctoral researcher at the Stockholm University School of Business), and Gunilla Bandolin (artist and the Professor at Fine Art Department, Konstfack) will be published later on our new initiative – http://www.newbeautycouncil.com.

“We found the statue of Juliet and there is a tradition going that if you touch her right breast, it will bring luck in love. She stood there, head shyly bent and I felt like the terrible rapist, stepping up and grabbing a firm hold. It WAS an opportunity not to miss though, so I just had to, silly at it is”.
Lasse, 51 years old, solution designer at Scania, Sweden.
From www.euronimbus.blogspot.com

“In small yard you can see bronze statue of Juliet. Tradition say that if you want to have love in your life you should grab her right breast and her arm. So I did it”.
Jelena, born 1972, Belgrade.
From www.virtualtourist.com

“We also found a large bronze statue of Juliet which is supposed to offer good luck to those who touch its left breast. Because of the thousands upon thousands of people who come through here, that spot of the statue practically shines”.
Jonathan Hiltz, a TV producer and host of the upcoming program Vloggers, on Bite Television.
From www.macleans.ca/culture/lifestyle

This publication is the result of my inquiry into a simple question: why do people in our rational century create rituals tfor some public art objects? Why do they throw coins, rub certain parts of a sculpture or go around it several times? As you can see from above quoted tourist diaries – they do it because others do. But why then others do it? Who starts a tradition? Can a single person manipulate human behaviour and start a new tradition? Why do people need this kind of traditions to exist? What does it all mean?
Trying to find an answer on this question I realised that there is no one science, which can give an answer to it. It works more like that – one question, several approaches. So my investigation is not only mine: I am very grateful to those researchers from different fields of knowledge that agreed to share their views on this subject.

The Konstfack course “Going public” with the artist Beatrice Hanson is about to finish. And finally we will go public with our projects on the 17th of March. Those who are in Stockholm, you are welcome to the openning at Konstfack, Telefonplan!
going public invitation card

Theo, co-curator, finishes to install audio piece
Theo

My toilet #2: “The origin of the new bourgeoisie” with installation “The sanitation and education for the new public: the parallel history of toilets and museums”.
toilet two

the same but closer – materials which people used instead of toilet paper before toilet paper:
moss
toilet two2

soft end of a rope
robe

and something special – Swedish wooden rövsticka (actually a plastic copy of it)
rovsticka

Beatrice Brovia, designer of the toilet #2, observes her museological masterpiece – the representation of museums/toilets history timeline. It was so cool to work with you, Beatrice!
Beatrice Brovia

My toilet #3: “The Concise vocabulary of the new bourgeoisie”
toilet 3

and closer…
toilet 3.2

Toilets are clean and visitors are coming in
visitor1
visitors2
visitors3

to understand our exhibition one needs to be guided by a catalogue texts
visitors4

Prof. Ronald Jones is in a hurry to listen his own voice in toilet #1 (co-curator Elisabet asked him to read her questionnaire and my boy friend artist Tomas Nygren recorded it. It starts to talk to a visitor when he/she enters a toilet).
visitors5

and after that he tells everyone how super it was!
visitors6

Within “On Target” I customized two toilets into educational booths. Since we got an assignment to work with a new bourgeoisie as a target audience (Tensta – a place where Tensta Konsthall is situated – is an immigrant district in Stockholm) for our exhibtion and toilets as a space to work in, my idea was to transform toilets into Educational Zone where Tensta visitors could have a short course how to become a new bourgeoisie if they want to and maybe move out of Tensta district to the better place.
Inspriration for this idea – my Russian relatives who like to visit WC with a new book or a journal. They really use toilets as an educational zone almostly every day. They just do not have time to read somewhen/where else.

#1
The Origin of the New Bourgeoisie
Installation: 12 museum alike transparent boxes with various materials which people used for their needs before toilet paper was invented. Boxes are arranged as a timeline of the parallel history of toilets and museums.
Designer: Beatrice Brovia

The new bourgeoisie is a social stratum based on the 19th century social shift towards a new method of controlling citizens via public self-discipline and acceptance of hygienic norms. Upon facing the reality of an expanding urban population, these tools of social control became crucial. Citizens were expected to re-make themselves, so as to be more manageable members of an evolving society.
Notable public spaces, such as museums or fairs, became perfect “schools” where individuals implemented these new behaviourisms. Simultaneously, the government utilized the aforementioned tools to highlight a nation of advanced political reform and its stemming technical development. In conjunction, because of overpopulation, a new sanitation system was essentialized. Lavatories and public museums were paired as two parts of the same social project. In this social system of self-organization, bearers and spreaders of culture – a.k.a. the cultural intelligentsia – adopted the responsibility
to produce valuable offshoots. It would not be an exaggeration to admit that the origin of the new bourgeoisie is situated in historical aggregates of flushed toilets and public lavatories, as well as public museums.

Timeline
The Sanitation and Education for a New Public:
The Parallel History of Toilets and Museums

1759 The British Museum, the oldest independent museum in the world, is founded.
1775 The first patent for the flushing toilet is issued to Alexander Cummings.
1778 Toilets are regarded as perfect when Joseph Bramah substitutes the slide valve
with the crank valve.
1792 Only nine days after the fall of the French Monarchy, a decree is issued deeming
the former Royal Palace a public museum, otherwise known today as the Louvre.
1848 In England, a Public Health Act is passed mandating an arrangement for every house
in the country – whether it be a flush toilet, privy or an ash pit.
1851 The Great Exhibition or the “Crystal Palace” becomes the first in a series of World’s Fair
exhibitions on culture and industry; it is held in London.
1851 George Jennings installs the first public toilets at The Great Exhibition.
1857 The South Kensington Museum in London opens. It is officially dedicated to serve the public
with a friendly admission policy for the working class.
1857 The first factory-made toilet paper is produced by Joseph Cayetty in the United States.
1869 The American Museum of Natural History is founded.
1872 French municipalities ask private companies to manage public toilets for a lease period
of 20 years.
1900 The number of public museums in Britain increase from 50 in 1860 to 200.

Sources: http://www.wikipedia.org, http://www.masterplumbers.com, http://www.toiletology.com, http://www.plumbingworld.com, http://www.victoriancrapper.com, http://www.sulabhtoiletmuseum.org
Schubert, Karsten. The Curator’s Egg: The Evolution of the Museum Concept from
the French Revolution to the present day. London: One-Off Press, 2002
Bennett, Tony. The Birth of the Museum: History, Theory, Politics. London and New York: Routledge, 1995

#2
The Concise Vocabulary of the New Bourgeoisie

Installation: text on toilet’s tiles.

Language is not only a tool for communication but a seal, marking a wide range of social strata. Regarding power structures, no unified language exists; rather: many languages live among each other. These same languages create borders between people, helping them formulate and maintain significant interests. Often, a person who belongs to a given community does not have to know what this-or-that notion means, as long as they approach or consider concepts in question under the umbrella of a designed perspective or set of circumstances, thereby placing oneself as a coined member of a desired group. Words are signs, as well as the clothes one wears, designs one purchases, architecture one admires and art one accepts. In “The Concise Vocabulary of the New Bourgeoisie,” I was interested in tracing trajectories of key notion-signs for the new bourgeoisie – a relatively fresh social stratum, where economic value is based on its “cultural capital” or the knowledge of how cultural
spheres operate. The first step towards becoming part of this new bourgeoisie is a thoughtful examination of its lexicon.