All art is fundamentally interactive seeking to engage the viewer. Nevertheless, we want to emphasize how central working with visitors as active participants is to each of the exhibitions of this season. We would even go so far as to say that sitting on the sidelines is not an option at Wanås in 2013. In keeping with this spirit, the guide is filled with interviews with the participating artists, which left room for questions, reflections and spontaneous commentary. In a series titled Revisit
, Wanås Konst also maintains a connection with the artists of our permanently installed works, through on-site dialogues and tours. Throughout the season there will be opportunities to meet some of the artists at Wanås, as they look back at their art in the permanent collection and speak about how they are working today.
This year participating artists have very different approaches to the site, but the use of words is recurrent. With words that are written, fabricated and nailed up on the wall, the artists instigate a dialogue that welcomes both humour and reflection. Jason Diakité and Maria Bajt have fearlessly taken on the task of creating a new story, taking place at Wanås, about the art and the Park for young visitors. One can read the text in the book, or listen to it in the Art Gallery while getting lost among the illustrations. Marilá Dardot fills the lawn with ceramic words that can be recombined to create new sentences. The Park already contains works with text, from isolated words, to Yoko Ono’s instructions and Jenny Holzer’s truisms – each representing different ways of communicating through language.
Jeppe Hein supersizes the question "What is happiness to you?” at the main entrance in letters measuring two metres high. His exhibition includes earlier and new work and he transforms the Art Gallery into a workshop. The exhibition is part of a larger project titled A Smile For You
with focus on happiness. In collaboration with Bonniers Konsthall the questions on happiness are spread in newspapers, on Facebook and in a poster campaign. We are encouraged to answer and the responses are included in the exhibitions, in a new publication and future research on the topic.
During his comprehensive project exploring happiness, some have commented that happiness is nothing new. No, it’s true, happiness has been the subject of lively debate already in 500 B.C. for thinkers such as Socrates, Buddha and Confucius. So how should one relate to the subject? Morally – the greatest good for the greatest number – or quantifiably and measure happiness? While less scientific five-step methods on how to find happiness, or carefully calculated conclusions that the happiest people on Earth are Danes, can seem simplistic, it is nothing short of mind-boggling that Bhutan does not have a GNP, but rather a GNH – Gross National Happiness Index. Before one can even consider the pros and cons of such a system, one must make the dizzying leap and consider the option. Since it is easy to conclude that economic growth alone does not guarantee contentment.
This year we are screening the film Xilitla
by Melanie Smith in collaboration with Rafael Ortega. It is a non-linear storyline that takes places in a Mexican sculpture park created by poet Edward James from 1960 to 1984, just a few years before exhibitions began at Wanås. Although James created a surrealistic vision in a tropical rainforest, there are still parallels between how one experiences the two sites. Though it may have been convenient to apply some overarching theme for the season, the exhibitions are not well suited to it. After all, it is the exchanges between different geographical locations, artworks and visitors that is most compelling.
To those who have participated in each and every aspect of the preparations, with everything from art to proper grammar, we wish to extend a sincere THANK YOU. First and foremost to all of the artists, their assistants, and Bonniers Konsthall for being important collaborators, and also to Kristianstad konsthall, Skissernas Museum in Lund and the Swedish Institute in Paris. With just those two words we hope that we can express how much we appreciate all that you have contributed.
The poet's Xilitla lies dormant, while Wanås has been bustling with activity. The dynamic individuals that make up our staff have been working tirelessly to bring together a full range of exhibitions and programs. Our activities are made possible through public support from Region Skåne, the Swedish Arts Council and the Municipality of Östra Göinge, while corporations, private donors and foundations make specific projects possible through generous donations. The continuous support and commitment of the Wanås Estate and Marika and CG Wachtmeister as well as Kristina and Baltzar Wachtmeister makes it possible to develop such a unique place. We also thank the Board for its commitment and encouragement.
This year we want to make special mention of the Swedish Postcode Lottery Cultural Foundation, which has made it possible for Wanås Konst to make significant progress in extending our reach, through an exciting new project in dialogue with young people. Their support will enable us to develop and expand the ongoing conversation about art, through the spoken word as well as sign language or in Braille.
Elisabeth Millqvist and Mattias Givell
Wanås, April 2013