Recycle Art Retrospective - Jakob Burrows' Blog

Recycle Art Retrospective

Let me tell you about this thing we did that I am sort of proud of.

In the first week of 2011 five people sat down in a cramped bedroom in Falun. We were taking refuge from the blinding snowy brightness of the early morning because we were all hung over to some extent (some of us to greater extents than others, but I shall name no names). Most of the room was taken up by a table, which had several chairs standing on it. The night before we had jammed all the kitchen-furniture into this small bedroom in order to turn the kitchen into a dancefloor, as was our custom. Strewn around the room was evidence of last night's party - stained wineglasses, empty cans and half-eaten crisp packets. (There was also various underwear strewn about, but again - no names.)

The five of us had decided to form a Group, and we were pretty happy with the Goal we had formulated for ourselves: "to Further Creative Contact Between People". And so we were sitting in that tiny bedroom trying to figure out what that meant. We decided that we wanted to do an art show, and we decided that the theme should be "Recycling". We were also quick to decide that we should have an "open call" for artists, because we wanted different minds who would approach the theme from lots of different angles, using lots of different art forms.

So we printed up the middle poster above (the others came later), and we put it EVERYWHERE. We also put out the call online, asking anyone interested to get in touch. We did this before we had 1) any money, 2) any idea where to do it, 3) any money, 4) any idea how to do it, and especially 5) any MONEY. None of us had ever done this sort of thing before, and at times it was overwhelming, but through sheer willpower and dedication the pieces started falling into place.

I had my sights set on doing the show at Magasinet, a beautiful old building in central Falun, that used to be full of trains but which is now usually filled with art and theatre and other wonderful things.

It's a pretty amazing place. Luckily for us it is also run by pretty amazing people, who loved the idea of Recycle Art. They helped us get in touch with others who could do financial backing, and it all seemed to be coming together! There was one condition though - we had to push the exhibit forward and do it a whole month earlier than we'd planned. Here is a rough transcript of a conversation between Tobbe and me regarding this enormously stress-inducing condition:

Tobbe: "Is this do-able?"
Jakob: "No. "
Tobbe: "Let's do it anyway. "
Jakob: "Yes. "

And we did.

Suddenly things were happening very quickly. Applications came in from artists all over Sweden - not as many as we might have hoped, but more than we should have expected. All of us in the group (which at this point had taken on the name Pauses) had school and/or jobs, so pretty much all our free time was taken up with going to meetings, dealing with artists, building things for the exhibit, and trying to spread the word. With a few days to go before opening night we were given access to Magasinet and starting building the actual exhibit. Here is a one-minute video that perfectly encapsulates my feeling about this project, and indeed, this period of my life:

And then it was time. The show went on for one week. Apart from the art we had arranged lots of activities during the week - live performances of music, a fashion show, poetry readings, theatre, and so on. I can't really express in words what it was like. So here's a video, shot by Jonathan Norberg, Nils-Henrik Länsberg & Fredrik Wahlén (thanks guys!), and edited by me:

Watching this is bittersweet for me, since it's been almost two years, and many of the people involved have moved away. It seems a shame that Pauses has not organized anything more on this grand level, even though most of us keep in touch, but this project certainly had a lasting effect on me.

There's footage somewhere of the opening speech me and Tobbe held, but the cameras did not have great microphones, and it sounds a bit like we're speaking through a tube at the end of a long corridor, so I'll have to summarize. We talk about how we can't quite believe that it all came together, and that we put something so big into motion simply by deciding to do something. I think I may have become a generally more optimistic person simply by doing this.

And beyond that, I think I finally figured out what our Goal meant. Six months earlier, when I started hanging out with the people who formed Pauses in that cluttered bedroom (and others who joined the group later), I would never have expected to feel so at home with them. We were very different people, or so it might seem, but our creativity and enthusiasm in arranging this project brought us together. Looking back I might re-formulate our Goal as: "to bring people together through creativity."

I'd say we managed it.

September 30th, 2012