There is not one answer
Wanås Konst 2018
Is it art? Three words written with hesitation—because it is these three words that we are trying to get you not to focus on. “What is art?” is a question frequently encountered by those who work with art. Artist Ernst Billgren, for example, has written an entire book that addresses that very question. One answer is that art is what is understood to be art by people who are active in the art world. But some people claim that art is beyond definition. Others think that it is up to the observer to decide if something is art, regardless who that observer is.
In 2018, Wanås Konst’s exhibitions give rise to questions about who is an artist and what artifacts can be exhibited. From spring to Midsummer, Richard Johansson’s art project Folk Art Museum is on display, with collected objects by people who are not trained artists. Knitting activists in Östra Göinge municipality and in Basque Country in Spain are brought together from June onward via a more than two-kilometre-long knitting project (you can contribute a section to extend it even further), with the purpose of bringing awareness to the issue of gender-related violence. The activists aren’t saying that knitting is art, but they see the work as a way of bringing about change. Choreographer Xavier Le Roy presents a workshop with Scarlet Yu in which they welcome anyone to, through workshops, find their sculpture by starting with their own bodies, resulting in a sculpture that can then be constructed wherever, whenever. This year, our exhibitions mean that many people who haven’t previously defined themselves as artists are participating and exhibiting.
On a daily basis, our educators witness how art inspires, encourages creativity, and opens up questions and conversations. In 2017, fifteen children participated in one of the art projects. “Is there war where you come from?” one of them asked the grocer in Knislinge—reflecting the child’s own reality. War, depicted as an elusive, evil spirit, is the subject of the sixth title in the Wanås Konst children’s book series, this year by Per Enoksson and Thom Lundberg. Their art interweaves words and images in a story that plays out during a time when war raged in Skåne. Art asks questions, gives context, and awakens feelings. Our educators experienced this with the 10,000 children who participated in art tours and workshop activities last year. Their focus isn’t on what art is but on the artistic process, and on a daily basis they see how the encounter inspires creativity and openness to conversation.
“The riddle of art is that we do not know what it is until it is no longer what it was,” stated Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Artistic Director of documenta (13) in 2012. Three oeuvres stand behind this year’s big artistic venture opening in May, and the artists would likely give different answers to the question of what art is. Katarina Löfström works repetitively with abstraction. The non-representational, she believes, invites us in, gives us the opportunity and space to personally define what we’re seeing. Chiharu Shiota, as a young artist, wanted to be inside her paintings, in a purely physical manner, and developed them into three-dimensional sculptures in which the thread as a material becomes a counterpart to the drawn line.
The third large art project is a special project. Wanås Konst’s focus is to realize new artworks in close dialogue with artists. Poul Gernes made his Pyramide as a sketch and model already in 1967. Posthumously, Wanås Konst has been entrusted by Klaras Karolines Fond, established by the artist and his wife, to construct it. Gernes thought that art should be where people are, and had the distinct belief that the purpose of art included making the world a better place.
Art can make us uncomfortable by not being what we expect. Marianne Lindberg De Geer knows that art can be upsetting; her calls of “Mommy” in the park leave no one unmoved. This fall, we invite you to Revisit Lindberg De Geer’s oeuvre.
Art changes, just like who is exhibiting and what a space for art can be. “The museum,” writes art historian Claire Bishop, “was historically a place for the 1 % and today is geared toward the 99 %.” Wanås Konst works to produce, present, and mediate art, to be a place for culture, to illuminate alternatives, and through the art experience itself offer thoughts, conversations, and experiences—this is the opportunity art galleries and museums have. Carolyn Christov Bakargiev continues her definition: “Furthermore, art is defined as much by what it is, as by what it is not; by what it does, and can do; as by what it does not, or cannot do; it is defined even by what it fails to achieve.” For now, forget the question of what art is. Experience!
Elisabeth Millqvist & Mattias Givell, Co-Directors