SONGS FROM THE BOTTOM OF SOCIETY | Site-specific sound installation
Texts taken from the webside of residence program Art Inside Out, commissioner of the work.
Sånger från samhällets undersida (Songs from the bottom of society) was a temporary sound piece which was installed at the entry of Varberg fortress. The work was based on prison inmates’ experience of being detained and no longer having full access to the city and society. Stjerna wanted to explore what it is that a prisoner misses in that situation. What can one be without, what one longs for and what one thinks about how society could be different. The sound piece highlights that there are inhabitants in a city we are rarely aware of and whose voices don’t always find their way back into society again.
Looking back on the project in 2018, Stjerna writes: “My starting point for the project was to explore the city from the most extreme of boundaries: what does the city mean to those who no longer have access to it?”
Stjerna was permitted to use the inmates’ stories on the condition that their identities were not disclosed. She therefore transcribed the stories she had recorded to text and these were then read by actors.
The sound piece was first made as a site-specific work for Varberg fortress. Another version was made for the bridge by the entrance to Nyköpingshus. In both places the sound piece was tied to the history of the sites, both having been prisons in the past. Stjerna made Sånger från samhällets undersida (Songs from the bottom of society) in collaboration with actors Maria Ericson, Petter Heldt, Oscar Ohlson, Örjan Hamrin and Sonja Lund from Teater Halland. The actors read texts from interviews which the artist conducted with members of KRIS Halmstad – an organisation which helps former criminals return to society.
About Art Inside Out:
In the residency ”Culture’s Role in Urban Development”, Art Inside Out were interested in exploring and creating dialogue around Varberg’s current identity and future developments for the city.
Our society is undergoing constant transformation. How can art and culture contribute to the worthy visions made for emerging city districts? Varberg is facing major, albeit planned, changes with the relocation of its port, an new train station that will be underground, and the building of a new neighbourhood. During ”Culture’s Role in Urban Development”, six artists contributed with new perspectives and solutions to future issues in the design of the city. The focus was on Västerport, a new district in development, to be situated in Varberg’s existing port. The vision for the area, which is set for completion in 2025, is to help make the coastal city to the cultural hub of Sweden’s west coast.
The artists were given the task of producing ideas for the new district, in critical and investigative ways. What constitutes good living environments, where a balance between housing, work, leisure and culture for all ages exists, was the basis for the investigation. What is the ideal urban environment? What does it look like? How do its citizens perceive it?
Marie Kraft was the artistic facilitator during the three-week residency period. Marie Kraft has lived in France and Italy since the beginning of 1990’s. Educated in architecture and the performing arts, she has worked for many years with international cultural exchanges, predominantly with the Swedish Institute. Since 2001 Marie Kraft has been the artistic director of HABITER, a European network for projects and research in the fields of architecture, art, and urban planning. She is a PhD student in Urban studies at the graduate school of Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris.
Link to stereo version of Songs from the bottom of Society
Commissioner: Art Inside Out
KRIS Halmstad: Kriminellas Stöd i Samhället
Voices: Actors from Theater Halland:
Maria Ericson, Petter Heldt, Oscar Ohlson, Örjan Hamrin and Sonja Lund.
Sound-recording assistance: studio Christian Silver
Technical development: Manfred Fox