Parkliv (Park Life)
With our inaugural exhibition Parkliv we wish to activate the park context into which Marabouparken's new gallery is literally submerged: its special landscape, history, future and its role as private and public space. As indicated by the exhibition title, we have invited artists and writers who take an interest in how we experience the park as nature, culture and physical space. As a public space, the park expresses the human need to cultivate and shape nature according to one's requirements. Cultivation is not only a means for survival - it is also an expression of a social, caring instinct with the potential to transform people, places and relationships. Different aspects of the park space merge into one another and recur in the exhibition on various levels: on a molecular plant level, in nature's and culture's continuous interaction, and in the park's way of creating a public space for meetings and play - a fundamental humanism.
In artist Nathan Coley's large neon sign, WE MUST CULTIVATE OUR GARDEN, the famous ending of Voltaire's Enlightenment novella Candide has been elevated to a moral imperative, where the capitalised “WE”shifts the emphasis towards a common effort. This “WE” is what retired engineer Lee Burns has adopted as his mission in life. In Ingo Vetter's and Annette Weisser's film, I Am Farming Humanity, we follow Burns' story about his personal journey from the cotton fields of the Mississippi Delta to the backyard in Detroit's Lower East Side where he “builds humanity” and creates a sense of community with his cultivations that the entire neighbourhood has free access to. This persistent human need to create one's own little oasis appears in the most unpropitious circumstances. Margaret Morton's photographs depict the temporary gardens created by homeless people on vacant lots in Manhattan, New York. In the midst of the miserable situation of the homeless people, the photographer discovers invention, beauty and calm. The connection between the museum - the place where ideas about landscapes are conveyed through artists' interpretations - and the landscape is an important theme for Matts Leiderstam. Using his Periscope (Marabouparken), specially made for the Parkliv exhibition, visitors can stand on the floor down in the subterranean art gallery and peek out among the tree tops. Matts Leiderstam directs our attention towards the connection between the exhibition space and the park landscape outside - an association with the potential of putting its mark not only on the inaugural exhibition but on the institution itself. In nature, the struggle is constantly ongoing even though we cannot see or hear it with our blunt, human senses. In her work, Växternas kemiska språk (The Chemical Language of Plants), Christine Ödlund has, for a lengthy period of time, followed a group of researchers at KTH - the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, who are registering plants' chemical reactions to various stimuli in an attempt to break the source code of how plants communicate. In her work, Christine Ödlund depicts their findings in a multi-layered piece that comprises a sculptural willow shoot installation and the score for two sound pieces, Stress Call of the Stinging Nettle and Plant Drummer.
Marabouparken is often described as a “functionalist park” in which the functionalistic thinking is most clearly articulated in the large lawn, which was intended as a social space to be disposed by people for walking, playing, picnics and rest. Paola Pivi's (Untitled) Slope is a constructed grass slope with a perfect “roll”. This gigantic grass sculpture presents a multilayered and playful comment on the garden and park's major fetish: the lawn. As a way of reminding us of the role children's games have played in the design of the Marabouparken and other parks, artist Kerstin Bergendal, in her artistic research project, Park Lek (Park Play), has borrowed the play principle from Parkleken (Play Park) - a Swedish children's cultural institution more or less contemporary with Marabouparken. In Marabouparken Bergendal has furnished a physical and mental space where she invites various people to discussions and play around the idea of the park, without a predetermined goal. The space, which in the course of the work has been filled with drawings, photos and models, will be temporarily relocated to the Parkliv exhibition, and later moved upstairs to one of the gallery's project spaces where the process will continue.