Nationality: Sweden

Kliniken (The Clinic) by Annelie Axén

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A newly subtitled animation by Kristian Pedersen for Gasspedal Animert. Words and voice are by Annelie Axén. There’s also an unsubtitled version.

According to the Gasspedal website (with the help of Google Translate), Annelie Axén was born in 1975 and is an author and critic. Raised in Falun, Sweden, she graduated from the Author Program at Telemark University College in Bø, Norway, and went on to the University of Copenhagen where she studied journalism. Her book Langz was published by Gasspedal in 2005.

From the Hill-Top by Tomas Tranströmer

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Belgian musician S.A. Barstow, A.K.A. Teun De Voeght, has just released an album of adaptations of Tomas Tranströmer poems as translated by Robin Fulton. This is one of the ten tracks from that album. You can listen to the others on his Bandcamp page.

Tomas Tranströmer

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This new film from Bloodaxe Books, one of Tranströmer’s English-language publishers, incorporates footage of the Nobel Prize announcement and the Tranströmers’ reaction, as well as footage of Tranströmer playing the piano which Pamela Robertson-Pearce had just shot in August. Robin Fulton’s translations appear as subtitles for the Swedish-language readings, which include “The Nightingale in Badelunda,” “Allegro,” “From the Thaw on 1966,” “The Half-Finished Heaven,” “April and Silence,” “From March 1979,” and “Tracks.” This is of course something that the film/video medium is particularly well suited for: it’s wonderful to hear the poet reading in Swedish and know (more or less) what he is saying.

Do read the extensive notes on the Vimeo page. The detail that “Swedish composers have written several left-hand piano pieces especially for him to play” speaks volumes about his status in his homeland. (Hat-tip: Teju Cole on Twitter)

Schubertiana by Tomas Tranströmer

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This is A Galaxy Over There — a lavishly produced film by British director Martin Earle, illustrating excerpts from Tranströmer’s poem “Schubertiana,” as translated by Jöns Mellgren and narrated by Graham Sharpe in a kind of bedtime-stories voice. Though much of it is rather too literal for my taste, it’s hard to find fault with such beautiful filmmaking. The flying household objects in the first part seem in keeping with the spirit of Tranströmer’s “miracle speech,” and I love the scene where the landscape turns into a bed quilt. It’s also hard to see how they could’ve used anything other than a Schubert string quartet for the soundtrack!

Window Interplay by Francisco José Blanco

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I don’t entirely understand Josephine Gustavsson’s explanation for the method here, but it sounds highly imaginative:

Every day, trains scrape off iron filings from the rails of the tube network. These filings are regularly removed by staff, since they can otherwise interfere with the signaling system. The procedure is carried out using a machine that contains a magnetic force.

The visualisation of the poem ‘Window Interplay’ is made for the moving image screens of the London Underground, to inspire Monday morning commuters. It is made through a series of explorations, making use of iron powder and magnetic fields.

Francisco José Blanco
is a Venezuelan artist resident in Sweden.

Animal Bibles by Rönnog Seaberg

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Swedish-American poet Rönnog Seaberg and her husband Steve Seaberg invented what they called acrobatic poetry. Rönnog isn’t in this performance, and I’m guessing that’s because it happened after her death in 2007. Steve has posted a number of videos of their acrobatic poems on YouTube and on Vimeo, which houses the nude ones. The acrobats in this performance are Steve Seaberg, Mark Wolfe and Ashkey Winnig. You can find the text of the poem on the Vimeo page.

The Seabergs and their frequent collaborator Mark Wolfe spoke to Art Interview magazine in 2005. Here’s a snippet:

Rönnog Seaberg: […] We have a group now that basically consists of 3 people; Steve, Mark and I and we have an outer circle of people who also appear with us here in Atlanta. We take my poetry, which I recite, and we illustrate it and enhance it with acrobatics to make a visual still life.

Steve Seaberg: It’s like how an illustrator illustrates a poem in a book or how William Blake wrote his own poetry and illustrated it as well. There are all sorts of techniques for doing that. We use 3 dimensional space for our illustration. The poetry, instead of being printed, is actually read by Rönnog so it is a real event and we then perform the illustrations for the poem, which often are acrobatic but not necessarily so. Sometimes we simply pose in positions that seem related to or illustrative of the poem. Her poetry is often divided into verses and each verse we do with different poses. There might be three, four, five, verses to an entire poem. So it’s a series of tableaus. Sometimes it might seem like we are imitating art but we’re not. We’re composing the work ourselves but some of the poses of course are comments on or are taken from or inspired by sculpture going back in the whole history of art. We comment upon things that people do, ways of relating to each other in space. Some are more complicated acrobatically and take quite a bit of training and practice to do. Our goal is to create an image. I guess it is something like talking sculpture. But we have also had people who work with us who do movements. Recently we worked with some dancers.

Rönnog Seaberg: And we also add music quite often with live instruments.

Steve Seaberg: A couple of times we have done this with musicians. They sort of softly improvise while we read the poetry. That is always wonderful, it’s lots of fun to do.