Monday, 13 October 2014

urSinnen - of the Senses

"The exhibition "of the Senses" at Färgfabriken is a meeting between infant research and art. New ground-breaking infant research is teaching us more about adult human emotions, morality and aesthetic experience. What questions do infant scientists/researchers ask today? How do artists create art that includes an infant's sensual approach to a work?"


 "Partaking of culture is a democratic right without age limit. Both artistic and scientific research shows that babies can assimilate elaborate contemporary art. The latest advances in international brain research suggests that human abilities for creativity and improvisation already starts in infancy. The child's approach to make intelligible their new world can be compared with the artist and the researcher's desire to explore hitherto unknown terrain where visions and hypotheses tirelessly tested against reality again and again."


 "The artworks in the exhibition offers a venue where children and adults can have a shared experience on equal terms. "of the Senese" wants to convey an artistic experience that is valid for all, regardless of age and previous knowledge."


The exhibition is a result of  discussions nd experiments that started in autumn  2011 in collaboration with  Färgfabriken, Artikel 31, Uppsala Barn och Babylab och HDK in Gothenburg.
 "Föreningen Artikel 31 - The "association Article 31" investigates conditions for how children can exercise their right in Article 31, to participate freely in cultural life and the arts."

The above are excerpts, translated into English by me, from Färgfabrikens website about the exhibtion we visited today... urSinnen at Färgfabriken

It certainly was an interesting experience... and I am not sure how much I want to write here and now... part of me wants to try and make sense of it, or pick it apart... or both... and part of me wants to keep open and just wait and see what the children will say in our philosophy session tomorrow... showing the very photos I share here with them, to stimulate their memory...

Of course the photos are very much taken with my perspective of what I saw and how I saw them play... and their play (once they had tested everything out) became their usual mummies and daddies and witch games that they have been playing for weeks....

It made me think about the light explorations we had this time last year... where the first two sessions were mostly screaming, reacting, shouting, laughing, running and experiencing the light and the dark... but on the third session it became more exploration, time for curiosity... so I have e-mailed already to book another time... to revisit Färgfabriken, to see if our dialogues about what we have experienced will awaken a different approach to experiencing the art...

So for some images... and the explanations from the website, as well as my own thoughts...




" Lars Siltberg is a Swedish artist who, among other things, is interested in the body's development in a technological environment. Central to his video work is the meeting between the dreams of a new world and technology's or the body's way there. In this exhibition, he shows a video work that projects a stream of new life forms. A green skin-like mass moves, grows and turns. "
The children were very much into the ramps here... which at the time felt like a really good thing... maybe run off some of that built up energy from the journey to Färgfabriken, where the need for safety means we have to stick close together, have to follow the rules - while the children played (and made lots of noise... we did actually have to ask them not to scream) Anette told us about the exhibition and that it was OK for the children to experience it their way - of course there still needed to be respect for the works of art...
Not many of the children in this group took the time to look at the film... although they all did see it.





 "Goran Kajfes and David Osterberg are two Swedish musicians that through a large network and musical experimental spirit work with a variety of expressions. They take part in the exhibition with a bathysphere, a spherical metal tank akin to those submarines used by e.g Jacques Cousteau to dive into the deep-sea graves, the few places on earth that are still unexplored."
I think this was my favourite of all the works... but I am partial to things that you can touch and you can see and hear the effect straight away... noise and light by turning the many many steering-wheels. When you were inside it the globe the noise was a bit too instense for me... it reminded me of a baby exhibtion I visited in 2000 (while pregnant with my twins) - we started in a room where we laid down in the darkness, it was very warm, very loud and the light changed every once in a while... it simulated being in the womb - the heart, voices, stomache noises etc etc... the sun shining on the stomache... made me glad I was not a baby in the womb again, also made me realise why being on top of the spinning washing machine was so comforting for my new born girls!!
The children made the connection to a boat... both the steering wheels and the sound effects gave them this idea.




 The Swedish artist Ebba Matz's installation, visitors crawl under a funnel-shaped pavilion of red and white sails parachute material hanging down from the entire height of the art gallery. The visitor is captured here in a tactile suction cup and there may resign themselves to be tasted and known, and investigated by the artwork itself.
 To be honest I wish I had not read this before I went... because I was really interested in being tasted by this work of art... how would that work? Maybe because it is not easy to relax when you are visiting an exhibition with 11 three to five year olds that I did not feel this sensation... the children seemed to use it as one of their houses in a role play game. This was also a work of art that they had to be told NOT to twist... I mean reall something hanging there is just asking to be twisted... just like they love doing with swings...


 In American artist Nina Katchadourian's world pictures and phenomena get new meanings when they are connected in unexpected ways. For "of the senses" Nina has worked on a new piece that hangs in the exhibition hub, the central place that lent its form of squid three hearts.

I did not have the opportunity to lie down with the children here and listen to what they had to say about the artwork... so I am very much looking forward to that tomorrow. This space also became a house for their play


The above pictures show how lighting really creates an atmosphere... the chairs were filled with knitted squids and the floor with balls of wool... this was the only interaction I saw of that space...

Lower pictures...
 Candice Breitz is a South African video artist who lives and works in Berlin. In this exhibition, she shows the Canadian identical twins Natalie and Jocey Tremblay side by side in a stereoscopic video installation. A fascinating picture of two people's entanglement emerges in a story about how our own mirror image and persona are shaped and by mirroring the other.

This was my least favourite... mostly because of the swearing... and because, even though the story these twins had to talk about was interesting, it was not something that engaged the young children... was this making art accessible? When I questioned about the appropriate use of swearing in an exhibtion that is designed for children, I was told it was not designed for children... so I said then it is designed with children in mind... no I was told it was for everyone...
So I have gone back to the text that Färgfabrik has written about this exhibition... the words child/ren, baby, infant are used 22 times, as well as Article 31 which is a children's right article...the word people/person is used 4 times, and the word adult/grown-up is used 5 times... this makes it hard for me to understand that this is NOT an exhibtion with children in focus... and if it is not then I also feel very sad... what is its purpose then...? I thought it was about allowing children to have equal value...?
...the explanation went on... that she could not censur an artist... but I wonder if this artist actually designed this piece for this exhibtion... what was the artist thinking about using clips of people telling their story with the use of swear words... does this mean that children's books should have swear words in them so that they can be a part of culture...? I am sorry, but I would not have wanted my young children (when they were preschoolers - or even now really) being exposed to the F word... the world is full of beautiful words... why not fill it with more of them? Can this story only be told with swear words?

Well I had to do my research... this piece of work was made in 2009 and is one of a series of videos of twins and triplets... you can find out more on Candace Breitz website... there are also links to media clippings, should you want to go that far... I did, because I am nerdy like that.... as I could not wrap my head around that someone chose to make this particular film for this exhibition.. I simply could not make the connection... I do though LIKE the film, like the story of the twins and value it... but just not here... that is my opinion... it will be interesting to see what the children made of it... they did not spend much time in this room either... I mean what child does want to listen to adults babbling away...? Although I was told infant twins were fascinated by the film...


 Simon Heijdens is a Dutch designer and artist who lives and works in England. He has been highly praised internationally for his kinetic and interactive light sculptures and projections. His works in the exhibition consists of a glass container filled with fluid in which a light beams inexplicable signs and precipitates the color. Like a drop of ink dropped into a glass of water.

I liked this one... it was calming... it would almost have been nice to have been in a little room to block out some of the sound of the other children playing... as if to listen to the light singing. It will be interesting to see what the children have to say about this, as there were moments where the children paused and absorbed this too.


 The Swedish artists Bigert & Bergström have worked for almost 30 years and have produced a long list of projects in which the human relationship to nature and technology is central. For the exhibition, they worked together with two students from KTH who did their final work on a sculpture that takes the  form of  an interactive and tactile tentacle that visitors can lie and sit on. It is controlled by the touch and its waveform putting thoughts and feelings about communication in motion.

This was another work of art that required the children to slow down... and this was a visit where they were very busy, so slowing down was not much on their agenda... many of the children did not spend long enough to feel the movement that was very subtle, one of my colleagues never felt it move. It made a low hissing sort of noise, so I asked if the tentacle was whispering secrets to them... one child started talking about magic powers... I wonder what they will talk about tomorrow? Of course if we come back to visit, there might be more opportunity for slowing down and communicating with the tentacle...?



Kevin Schmidt lives and works in Vancouver, Canada. His works EDM House is a video projection showing a deserted house which was converted into a programmable light installation. The house and lighting flashes to a classic electronic dance track like a brain researcher experiments with fluorescent protein in mouse brains that give rise to brilliant ideas.

 Not so sure about the brilliant ideas bit... this room was the children's disco room... the dunk dunk dunk of the music and the flashing light, and the house moving in an out on a slightly odd sort of zoom, gave it that effect... I remembered something about the mouse brain... and it was only when I got back home that I put the two works of art together... I could not stay in the room, it was visually over stimulating together with the music... it was the strange zooming in and out that made me feel motion sick... go figure, the older I get the more motion sick I seem to be getting...


So this is what we have experienced today... and these are my thoughts... now to puch them aside and to make myself open to what the children have to say... what was their experience?

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