Åsa Elzén

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

thinking of you.

(Medan jag försöker bli bekant med Fredrika, tänker jag jämt på dig.)


site-specific installation / on-going action, copies of letters written by Elin Wägner 1947-48, paper, pens, typewriter, tables and chairs, 2018


At Bie biennal 2016 Åsa Elzén participated with the project Memory of an Event that created 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 dealt with two fictitious events around 1920, a strike and a love story that were discussed in two letters, one signed Signe and the other Honorine, written by Elzén.


Åsa Elzén’s engagement in the legacy and history writing concerning The Women Citizen’s School at Fogelstad is since ongoing and in focus also at the current Bie biennal/text through the project While I am trying to get to know Fredrika, I am always thinking of you (Medan jag försöker bli bekant med Fredrika, tänker jag jämt på dig.). (Quote from a letter written by Elin Wägner to Klara Johanson 19/4 1948.)


...

above: letters from Elin Wägner to Klara Johanson 3/2 1947 and 12/2 1948

below: letters from Elin Wägner to Flory Gate 11/10 1947 and to Klara Johanson 19/4 1948

During the years 1947–48, Elin Wägner (born 1882, writer and part of the Fogelstad-group) wrote a number of letters where fragments or longer paragraphs about her ongoing Fredrika Bremerbiography appear. Fredrika Bremer (1801–1865) was a writer and a well known feminist pioneer. The biography was never completed since Wägner passed away in January 1949. The letters are written to friends and colleagues, among them to literary critic and essayist Klara Johanson who previously had published Fredrika Bremer’s collected letter correspondence.


Visitors to the exhibition are invited to try to decipher and re-enact / copy some of these handwritten (and one typed) letters as a way to approach Wägner ”this side” of the words. Through the letters we understand that Wägner is trying to approach Bremer by reading her posthumous letters and through reading and re-activating Wägner’s letters we approach Wägner, Bremer and the receiver of the letter. We interact with triangular relationships and through our involvement we create an expanded web of relations. Depending on the intensity of this involvement we write ourselves into, or encounter a feminist genealogy where the singular subject dissolves and we are faced with the ethical dilemmas of biography-making as well as its boundaries and contingencies.