Åsa Elzén





Memory of an Event


For Bie biennal 2016 Åsa Elzén presents Memory of an Event (Minnet av en händelse), a site specific work that creates a link between The Women Citizen’s School at Fogelstad (Kvinnliga Medborgarskolan vid Fogelstad) (1925–1954) and Bie Bath (Augustenbad/Bie Badanstalt) (1843–1940). The project consists of two parts situated at three different places; an intervention on the remains of the foundation of the so called Water Factory (Vattenfabriken) in the Bie Bath park, and an audio installation in two parts, presented in the barn in Bie (the main exhibition space of the biennal) and at Fogelstad Estate (where the Women Citizen’s School was located earlier) approx 10 km north of Bie.  

The project circles around two events in the 1920’s, a strike and a love story. These events are discussed in two letters signed “Signe” and “Honorine”, dated in August 1956 in connection to the publishing of the first historical account of The Women Citizen’s School at Fogelstad. There is not evidence – in the form of for example material in public archives – that verify that all the events mentioned in the letters actually took place, but just because something is not found in the archive it doesn't necessarily mean that it didn't happen. The author Toni Morrison points out that when dealing with history writing regarding underrepresented groups that both “workers” and “women” can be said to belong to, fiction is sometimes situated closer to truth, since these groups often have less possibilities to collect, maintain and control the kind of facts that generally are accepted as foundations of truth and consequently the writing of history. She calls out for the "gravest responsibility" of the imagination.

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

Visitors are invited to listen to the letters at two different locations: the first one is situated on the top floor of the barn in Bie by a window facing Foglestad, and the answer can be listened to in a room by a staircase in the dairy at Fogelstad Estate (approx. 10 km north of Bie), by a window facing Bie. The dairy, also called Rosenhane, was used during the existence of the school as a lecture hall, party space and as temporary living quarters for the school’s participants. Today a permanent exhibition about the school is located on the ground floor.

more info, audio and photos

Memory of an Event II, consists of an intervention on the remains of the foundation and floor of the so called Water Factory (Vattenfabriken) (1910–?) in the Bie Bath park. The overgrown remains of the red- and white floor tiles have been exposed by removing moss and grass and eventually carefully scrubbed, as a gesture to honor the women who at the beginning of the 20th Century refused to accept their oppressed role and instead, with Honorine Hermelin’s words, dared to appear as "culprits" (missdådare), but never allowing themselves to be found in the pitiful situation of “caught offenders” (ertappade förbrytare). The  act of exposing the floor of the former factory is also a way of re-activating a space of contestation, from where the narratives of the two letters unfold.

more info and photos


above: installation view at Bie of Memory of an Event I (Dear Honorine / Dearest Signe)

below: detail Memory of an Event II

Special thanks to Kulturföreningen Fogelstad, Bie Brunns Vänner, Fågelsta Säteri, Kommunarkivet Katrineholms Kommun, Katrineholms Arbetararkiv and KvinnSam – nationellt bibliotek för genusforskning for your support and enthusiasm!