TANGIBLE NARRATIVES (2018) collaborative project by Tamás SZVET and Klára Petra SZABO

collaborative project by Tamás SZVET and Klára Petra SZABO
thermo paint; projection; archive images; audio; textile / variable dimension

developed during the ART INSIDE OUT - artist in residency program
Äskhult / Halland County / Sweden

Tangible Narratives (2018) is an audio-visual installation, where textile and a digital archive merge into a site-specific experience as the visitors interact with a heritage site and become engaged with the history of Äskhult village. The collaboration was developed during the ART INSIDE OUT artist in residency: “Shift Äskhult – digital and textile storytelling” program in Sweden. The project addresses the following questions:

How contemporary art engages with history, memory, and cultural heritage?

Working with history through archives – as an artist – gives the opportunity to bring back forgotten stories or even unwritten stories. Making memories accessible – as artistic gestures – is one of the most interesting themes of our time. In the last couple of years, collective memory as a concept acquired a renewed status in the field of contemporary art, something that might originate from recent anniversaries of significant historic events like the First and Second World War. Engaging memory – and cultural heritage – with art, might help us to understand better ourselves and our history through new figurations and interpretations of the past. The re-published memories could become a way to focus on the immaterial cultural heritage and the recalled knowledge has the capacity to be used as a facilitator of rethinking issues of contemporary life.

How can artistic techniques and technology bring the immaterial heritage further?

Connecting immaterial cultural heritage with artistic techniques and technology is a very exciting field nowadays. The project aims to make history tangible by visualizing a story, as if the buildings are still kept the aura and imprint of the former owners. By mixing the traditional interior with technological effects, the project generates a shift of perception of the past, present, and - with the knowledge we gain and keep - for the future.

The site- specific work is presented within the historical site: in the house that belonged to the Jönsas, a family from Äskhult. Hanging textiles show and hide images of the owners by using different media and technologies. Some images are projected on transparent fabric and let the interior be visible behind, extending the life traces of its makers. Life-sized people are positioned in the real space where ventilated air movements make the projections to be animated and seemingly alive. One textile is covered with thermo paint and the heat sensitive pigment reacts to alterations of temperature, therefore images can appear and disappear. The visible content (projection) is accompanied by a microscopic sound recording (fire) and the periodically set temperature alteration (for the thermo paint) also support the whole experience.

What is relevant and interesting - in the story of Äskhult village - to pay attention to today?

In the history of Äskhult, we chose a story of a fire outbreak (21st January, 1953) as a symbol of change. The fire was a disaster, but in such event, the locals gathered and prevented from spreading any further. In this act, positive social behaviour appeared. In a fire, something can be lost forever, but others – knowledge and immaterial property – can be kept alive, if we cooperate. The Tangible Narrative project aims to achieve this goal.

SPECIAL THANKS to: Art Inside Out residency program,  Petra Johansson (artistic director Art Inside Out); Wendela Sanne Örhnell (head of Äskhult and Naturum, municipality Kungsbacka); Davor Abazovic (producer AIO), Jesper Norda (artist; university adjuntus in Design vid Högskolan för Design och Konsthantverk Gothenburg); Hanna Bergman (graphic designer); Henrik Sputnes, (AIO journal); Kristina Meiton (film maker); Hallands Kulturhistoriska Museum, Varbergs; Elisabeth Fahrman (archivist Hallands Kulturhistoriska Museum);

PHOTO CREDITS: Anna-Britta Andreasson (1866-1958) photo: Olof Behm around 1930,; Johannes Andreasson (1870-1953) photo: Stig Tornehed; Gottfrid Pettersson (1897-1964), photo: 1958. HT-Bild – Arne Alfredsson; Hanna Göök (1901-1958) photo: Stig Tornehed around 1953

Tamas SZVET is operating at the intersection of perception, technology, and their social influence.  After a sculpture and media studies he investigating the possibility to augment the perception in the dimension of time, and MEMORY, and reflect it into the real space. He works mainly on community specific projects, based on engagement, so interaction is a key element of his activity. He uses archives – and the collective memory – for his work and he wrote his PhD research about INTERACTIVE ARCHIVES.

Klára Petra SZABÓ is interested in the human body - a superficial indicator - that simultaneously talks about IDENTITY, social status and cultural situation. She usually focuses to the relationship between personal identity and self-representation. She is continuously experimenting with the suitability for artistic use of various materials, while also exploring the possible ways of ’intermedializing’ and DIGITALIZING traditional techniques.

ART INSIDE OUT is a nomadic institution for artist-in-residence in all art forms and genres. Artists are invited to explore the possibilities for their own art, as well as exploring new collaborations, with the county of Halland as a playing field. Through an open process that leaves room for the unforeseen there is the opportunity for new discourse, where art generates creative solutions and new ways of seeing the world. Art Inside Out is operated by Region Halland, together with the municipalities of Falkenberg, Hylte, Kungsbacka, Laholm and Varberg. 

ÄSKHULT VILLAGE - situated 15 kilometers southeast of Kungsbacka - is a unique historical place in Sweden. In the 18th and 19th century, the Swedish cultural landscape was fundamentally changed. The reform of the great partition divided the villages and we got farms with alone lying houses. Äskhults village is a non divided village, and as such a unique historical place in Sweden. There was a settlement on site in the Bronze Age, and an ancient road went straight through the village. The preserved houses in the village gained their present appearance in the period 1750-1850. Äskhult consists of four farms – Göttas, Jönsas, Bengts and Derras (meaning ”neighbor”), the farms are tightly assembled on a stony courtyard. The village was preserved for the afterworld by forming a foundation in the 1960s, after the death of village’s last inhabitants. By the end of the 19th century, the village had about 40 inhabitants. Around the turn of the 1900s most of the village youths traveled to America. Many of these were never heard of again. But some of the emigrants returned and lived the rest of their lives in the village, until the mid-1960s. In the 1990s, the whole village with all the surrounding properties was bought by the West Coast Foundation to be protected as a reserve. It was followed by a reconstruction of the landscape back to as it was before the 19th century's major changes in agriculture in Sweden. During the same period, major restoration efforts were made on the settlement. Aeskhults village has an interesting history, linking to questions and issues that are relevant even today.