Mary Wollstonecraft’s Scandinavian journey 1795 re-traced


The project takes its point of departure in the feminist theorist Mary Wollstonecraft’s (1759-1797) travelogue Letters written during a short residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark from 1796. The book is written in epistolary form during Wollstonecraft’s journey in Scandinavia the summer of 1795. A few years earlier she had published A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, by many considered to be the founding text of Western feminism.

A reading of Wollstonecraft’s travelogue and a “re-tracing” of her journey – physically, but primarily through the many biographies written about Wollstonecraft – are the starting points for a project that suggests a less linear relationship to the past and asks questions regarding what alternative history writing could be. Rather than trying to find more information about Mary Wollstonecraft, Åsa Elzén has focused on the fiction, anachronisms, misreadings and gaps in this history, as well as on the history writer’s desire (including her own) for a coherent chronology. 


Art historian Griselda Pollock points to the risk of just adding persons and events to history, instead the challenge for a feminist writing of history should be to deconstruct the discourse of canon, to build an understanding of how deviance or “the other” is produced and reproduced.

The project consists of three parts:

The Glade I (video)

The Glade II (glass goblet with engraving)

Who Fooled Whom? (book)


Left: Map included in the book Who Fooled Whom? as a collage in two layers. The main map was originally published in  P. Nyström, Mary Wollstonecraft’s Scandinavian Journey, Royal Society of Arts and Sciences of Gothenburg, 1980

© Åsa Elzén and Royal Society of Arts and Sciences of Gothenburg

Åsa Elzén




Forest Calling – A Never-ending Contaminated Collaboration

or Dancing is a Form of Forest Knowledge /

Skogen kallar – Ett oändligt kontaminerat samarbete eller

Dansandet är en form av skogskunskap

    – Extension #2 at The Experimental Field, Accelerator, SU

    – Extension #1 In Forest Intervals

Notes on a Fallow – The Fogelstad Group and Earth /

Träda – Fogelstadgruppen och jord

    – A Growing Fallow Archive / Ett växande träda-arkiv

    – Biography of a Fallow / En trädas biografi

    – Transcript of a Fallow / Avskrift av en Träda

    – Boy! / Pojken!

    – Fogelstad Fågelstad Fågelsta Fågelholk Fågelbo

    – The Other School / Den andra skolan

    – A Growing Archive on the Women’s Barn and Livestock

    School at Fogelstad / Ett växande arkiv över Kvinnliga

    Ladugårdsutbildningen vid Fogelstad

    – A Step to the Side / Ett steg åt sidan

    – A Growing Peace with the Earth Collection

    – Transcript of Transcripts: Elin – Bang /

    Avskrifter av avskrifter: Elin – Bang

    – Why do things when you could leave it? – An attempt,

    an in-between land / Varför gör man saker då man kunde

    låta bli? – Ett försök, ett gränsland

While I am trying to get to know Fredrika, I am always

thinking of you.

Memory of an Event

    – Memory of an Event I (Dear Honorine / Dearest Signe)

    – Memory of an Event II

History History

The Collaboration: MS and AL

Mary Wollstonecraft’s Scandinavian journey 1795 re-traced

    – The Glade I

    – The Glade II

    – Who Fooled Whom?

YES! Association/Föreningen JA!

    – A New Spelling of a Street – A tribute to Audre Lorde

    – All that you touch You Change. All that you Change

       Changes you.


    – (art)work(sport)work(sex)work

    – Zyklische Gesellschaftsreise


    – We Will Open a New Front/Lee H. Jones

    – (Dis)agreements?

    – When hell froze over

The guide and the seeing man

Project Description

I’ll be you if you’ll be me

A year of sisterhood

Getting Dressed

Bollywood Basketball