Åsa Elzén



Forest Calling – A Never-ending Contaminated Collaboration or Dancing is a Form of Forest Knowledge

Public art commission in collaboration with Malin Arnell within the framework of Local Art Projects funded by Statens Konstråd / Public Art Agency Sweden (2019 - 2020)

Through Forest Calling – A Never-ending Contaminated Collaboration or Dancing is a Form of Forest Knowledge the possibilities of ensuring legal protection of a forest (approx. 4 hectares) belonging to Fogelstad, Julita are investigated. A prejudicial legal document is formulated (Forest Agreement), that together with a number of choreographed intra–actions draw up the guidelines for what it may imply "to practice a mutually sustainable relating", as well as securing the forest's agency and viability in an infinite future.

The connection to Fogelstad is of importance for the project, since the Fogelstad group, who among other things ran the Women Citizen’s School at Fogelstad (1925-54) was strongly involved in the "land issue” (jordfrågan) which today can be interpreted as being part of a further discussion about ecology and sustainability.

May 11, 2019, 12.00 - 16.00

Opening: En Trädas biografi / Biography of A Fallow, at Eskilstuna konstmuseum, Eskilstuna, Sweden 11/5 – 22/9 2019

En Träda,

matta i gobeläng, ull och lin, 466 x 600 cm, komponerad av Maja Fjaestad (1873–1961), vävd av Amelie Fjaestad (1862–1938), beställd av Elisabeth Tamm (1880–1958),

1919–1920 (detalj)

A Fallow

tapestry carpet, wool, linen, 466 x 600 cm, by Elisabeth Tamm (1880–1958) who conceived the idea and commissioned, by Maja Fjaestad (1873–1961) who conceptualized and composed, by Amelie Fjaestad (1862–1938) who weaved, 1919–1920 (detail)

En Trädas biografi —

Fogelstadgruppen och jord

En utställning av och med Åsa Elzén med verk av Maja Fjaestad & Amelie Fjaestad, Maren Holebakk och Axel Fredriksson. Siri Derkert och

Sven Hellqvist åberopas i museets samling.

Åsa Elzén har i flera projekt arbetat med arvet efter Fogelstad-gruppen som bland annat drev Kvinnliga Medborgarskolan vid Fogelstad 1925-54 i Julita. På Eskilstuna konstmuseum undersöker hon gruppens engagemang i jord genom att utgå från en särskild matta. 

År 1919 beställde Elisabeth Tamm på Fogelstad en matta med önskan att den skulle utgå från en träda, i linje med hennes tro på det vi i dag kallar ekologiskt jordbruk av konstnären Maja Fjaestad som konceptualiserade idén och komponerade mönstret. Mattan vävdes på Fjaestads konstväveri i Racksta under ledning av Amelie Fjaestad och fick titeln En Träda. Mattan låg i biblioteket på Fogelstad till slutet av 1960-talet, då den trasig lades på vinden efter att bokstavligen ha slitits ned av första vågens kvinnorörelse (och deras hundar). Nu ska den efter åren på vinden igen helt rullas ut på Eskilstuna konstmuseum och visas tillsammans med arkivmaterial, konstverk och material som befinner sig däremellan, där kopplingar också görs till specifika verk i museets samling. 

Begreppet ”träda” används inom jordbruket och innebär att åkermark får vila från produktion av grödor, för att motverka utarmning av jorden. Trädan, i sin mångtydighet, problematiserar den teleologiska, linjära tidsuppfattningen med fokus på framsteg och ekonomisk tillväxt som ligger till grund för normativ historieskrivning och pågående klimatkris.

Biography of A Fallow  ––

The Fogelstad group and earth

An exhibition with and by Åsa Elzén with works by Maja Fjaestad & Amelie Fjaestad, Maren Holebakk and Axel Fredriksson. Siri Derkert and

Sven Hellqvist are invoked from the collection of the museum. 

Åsa Elzén has in various projects worked on the legacy of the Fogelstad group, that among other things founded the Women Citizen’s School at Fogelstad (1925–1954). At Eskilstuna konstmuseum she focuses on the group’s engagement in earth.

A carpet based on a fallow makes up the conceptual and concrete starting-point of the exhibition. The carpet was commissioned by Elisabeth Tamm at Fogelstad in 1919 — in line with her belief in what we now call ecology and organic farming — conceptualized and designed by Maja Fjaestad and woven by Amelie Fjaestad in  Rackstad in 1920. It was placed on the floor in the library at Fogelstad until the end of the 1960s when very brittle, the carpet was put up on the attic after being literally worn down by the first wave feminist movement (and their dogs). At the museum it will be rolled out again, and presented together with archival material, art works and material lingering in between. 

”Fallow" is a term used in agriculture and means uncultivated land or ground harrowed to be left unseeded, to rest, as a way to avoid soil depletion. Conceptually, a fallow, in its ambiguity, problematizes the teleological, linear perception of time, with its focus on progress and economical growth that makes up the foundation of normative history and leads to ecological devastation.

Elisabeth Tamm i lerjord

Tre fotografier av tre skulpturer av Maren Holebakk (1909–1981) föreställande Elisabeth Tamm (1880–1958), i obränd lera från Fogelstads åkrar, storlek 10-17 cm, tillverkade ca 1945, titel och fotograferade på Fogelstad av Åsa Elzén, varje foto 29 x 26 cm,

Åsa Elzén, 2019

Elisabeth Tamm in loam

Three photographs of three sculptures by Maren Holebakk (1909–1981) depicting Elisabeth Tamm (1880–1958) in unburned clay from the land by Fogelstad, size 10-17 cm , made approx. 1945, title, photographed at Fogelstad by Åsa Elzén, each photo 29 x 26 cm, Åsa Elzén, 2019

Varför gör man saker då man kunde låta bli? — Ett försök, ett gränsland

videostill ur video, 28 min, textrådgivning och berättarröst: Nik Persson,

inspelning: Mattin, Åsa Elzén, 2019

Why do things when you could leave it?— An attempt, an in-between land

video still from video, 28 min, text consultant and voice: Nik Persson,

recording: Mattin, Åsa Elzén, 2019

Den andra skolan

12 prints av 12 fotografier av Axel Fredriksson (1894–1971) fotograferade på Fogelstad under 1920- och 30-talet. Monterade på kartong med kommentarer i handskrift: Nordiska museets Arkiv. Kommentarer skrivmaskin: Axel Fredriksson. Urval, titel, inskanning och konstnärligt bearbetade av Åsa Elzén med tillstånd av Nordiska museets Arkiv, varje print 34,3 x 30 cm, Åsa Elzén, 2019

The Other School

12 prints of 12 photographs by Axel Fredriksson (1894–1971), taken at Fogelstad during the 1920s and ’30s. Mounted on board with handwritten comments: The Nordic Museum Archive. Comments by typewriter: Axel Fredriksson. Selected, title scanned, and adapted by Åsa Elzén with permission from The Nordic Museum Archive, each print 34,3 x 30 cm, Åsa Elzén, 2019

September 7, 2019, noon

Opening:  Part of the Labyrinth, GIBCA 10th edition, Gothenburg, 7/9–17/11

curator: Lisa Rosendahl

I am participating with:

Transcript of a Fallow / Avskrift av en Träda

Appliqué, recycled textile, 470 x 600 cm, 2019

Transcript of the carpet En Träda (“A Fallow”), tapestry, wool, linen, 470 x 600 cm, 1919–1920, by Elisabeth Tamm at Fogelstad who conceived the idea and commissioned, by Maja Fjaestad who conceptualized and composed, by Amelie Fjaestad who weaved.

Made together with Malin Arnell, Britta Elzén, Mar Fjell, Enikö Marton and Markus Wetzel. Special thanks to the Fjaestad family, the Liljencrantz family, Kulturföreningen Fogelstad

To leave land fallow means to allow it to lie uncultivated in order to regain its fertility. The piece is a continuation of Elzén’s long-term work with the legacy of the feminist initiative the Fogelstad Group formed in Sweden in 1921. Elzén’s work is a transcript of a carpet titled, En Träda (“A Fallow”) made by Maja and Amelie Fjaestad in 1919–20, that lay in the library at the farm and education centre Fogelstad. The use of the term transcript, rather than copy, proposes a historiographical process interwoven with the present: by reworking the original, a contemporary reading of the piece becomes a visible part and continuation of its history. While the original carpet was woven of linen and wool from Fogelstad, Elzén’s version is made of recycled fabrics from a variety of different sources, materials, and years of manufacture. Visitors may tread the carpet without their shoes.

More info to come!

Installation of  Transcript of a Fallow / Avskrift av en Träda at Röda Sten Konsthall, one of the venues of GIBCA 2019

By making the forest a public artwork, it is lifted out of its predetermined context and becomes a kind of resistance to the Western teleological concept of time. The forest continues to live in another temporality, where a time axis from the Fogelstad group is allowed to proceed instead of being broken through clear-cutting. Thus, the forest writes itself into a specific assemblage of symbioses, histories, temporalities and relationships with other life forms, but also with human movements.

More info to come!

Oct 13 2019, 14-15.30

Discussion: Remixing Thoughts: Re-Learning the Pause

GIBCA, Röda Sten Konsthall, Gothenburg

Pella Thiel, an ecology and nature rights activist and Stina Bäckström,

a philosopher, talk about recovery from an ecological and a psychological perspective. In Swedish.

Starting from my work Transcript of a Fallow, the conversation takes place on the carpet/fallow and will be moderated by me. Welcome!

Image right:

Elisabeth Tamm and Honorine Hermelin facing the camera with a group of participants from the Women Citizen’s School at Fogelstad, date unknown, photographer unknown. Part of Åsa Elzén’s project Transcript of a Fallow and video still from Why do things when you could leave it?— An attempt, an

in-between land, video, 28 min, Åsa Elzén, 2019 

Oct 23 2019, 18-19.30

Artist Talk Åsa Elzén

GIBCA, Röda Sten, Gothenburg (on the carpet/fallow)

In Swedish.