A few years ago Juan Pedro told me about his grandfather Francisco Guemberena witnessing the event. What deeply affected the anti-fascist Francisco Guemberena was the youth of the sailors. The young dead were not enemies but victims of a brutal political system. (Jan Håfström)
The German pocket battleship Graf Spee was scuttled by its crew outside of Montevideo in Uruguay. The ship had suffered casualties and severe battle damages after engaging with the British Royal Navy a few days earlier. Uruguay was neutral and international law permitted the ship maximum 72 hours in port for repairs. Estimating up to 15 days of necessary repairs to make it seaworthy, the commander Hans Langsdorff ordered the ship to be scuttled. The crew were taken off to another ship and Allied prisoners were released. Days later Langsdorff shot himself in a Buenos Aires hotel laying on top of the ship’s battle ensign.
In the Art Gallery the artists have created Unvergessen, consisting of a set of dramatic and mysterious installations; film works, sound installations as well as installations of objects. One installation is an interpretation of the bridge of the Admiral Graf Spee, including objects relating to the ship. In Unvergessen
the artists give their different interpretations that reflect and nurture the narrative. Although tinged with mystery, Unvergessen
is foremost a story about compassion.
In 1991 Håfström exhibited the installation The Spanish Armada
, in a warehouse at Wanås Konst. The work consisted of old windows and doors that the artist had found in place at Wanås. Loss, death and sailor’s stories often figure in Håfströms work. In 2007 he invited fellow artists Juan Pedro Fabra Guemberena and Carl Michael von Hausswolff to create a permanent version of the earlier work resulting in the installation Graf Spee
. Yet again found windows and doors were used, but this time together with electronic music by von Hausswolff and a film Fabra Guemberena had made at the graveyard in Montevideo were the sailors from the ship had been buried. Graf Spee
is part of the permanent collection of Wanås Konst and is on view in the East Barn (East Stable).Revisit
is a series of exhibitions in the Art Gallery in which artists look back on and develop their works in the permanent collection. Previous revisits have been done by Charlotte Gyllenhammar (2011) and Sissel Tolaas (2012).