In the Periphery

As mentioned in the previous post, I used some of my grandmother’s everyday objects as starting points for my contribution to artist-group FIUYMI’s exhibition “In the Periphery” this summer (up until 29th of September) in Koster’s sculpture park in the (kind of) south of Sweden (but very close to Norway).

I did this to talk about the kind of periphery dementia is.

When my grandmother started to disappear into a state of ambiguity and mixed reality it was very painful to watch this highly capable and strong person starting to forget how to take care of herself. I lost the possibility of having long, meaningful conversations with her, since the timeline was constantly reset and cut off, and started to become a stranger to one of the most important people in my life. But even then, mixed in with the sadness, was amazement. At how strange our brains are and how creative they are, constantly. She had entered a world of dream logic. To her all the people she had ever met and all the places she had ever been were in reach all the time. Her mother, dead since at least 20 years, could come visit, and Spain, her favourite country, was sometimes on the second floor of her house. I especially remember a conversation I had with her the last Christmas we celebrated together. She both knew and didn’t know who I was. In her mind she was there to interview us about what we thought about the big news that we, as a family restaurant (something we are very much not), had gotten the job to make the Nobel-prize ceremony dinner. She asked many questions about this, but was at the same time a bit confused every time she remembered that she was part of the family. She also kept coming back to the question of when someone would come pick her up. At first I corrected her every time, explaining that she was going to stay with us and celebrate Christmas, but it felt so sad to have to tell her she was wrong all the time (that can’t be fun to hear over and over even if you forget it two minutes later) so I stopped, and followed her lead instead, to see where we would end up. We ended up in quite a few places actually: The North Pole, Spain (always on her mind), together with her dancing uncles many years ago, and back again at the family restaurant, to mention a few. It was not the kind of conversation we used to have when I was younger, and that I still miss, but we kind of had an adventure and travelled in time while the Nobel-prize dinner was being made in the kitchen, and I think we where both happy for a while.

Off course this is not “the solution to dementia” and off course it doesn’t always work to just go on an adventure instead of handling the problems in front of you. But I am really glad I have memories like this together with her.

Back to the exhibition. Here are the finished pieces, placed in the sculpture park.

Tilda1“Grandmother bakes (and forgets to stop)” 104 concrete mazarins (her speciality)In the background the other two pieces.

tilda3“Grandmother sorts in strange ways”  18 jars of wax keys that no longer open anything.

tilda2“This hat was given to me by my daughter’s mom” Silicone cast of one of her hats, and direct quote.

Thank you everyone who came to the opening and told me about your own experiences of dementia! A hug for each of you.

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Memories of my grandmother, part 2

When we emptied grandmother’s house 3 years ago, I saved some of her everyday-things. Keys, shoes, her cane, the hat that was hanging by the door. This summer I’ve made casts of some of them for the exhibition “In the periphery”, in Koster’s Sculpture Park at Sydkoster, an island on the west coast of Sweden.

Here is part of the process of the keys.

IMG_6285Some of her keys, nobody knows what they once opened.

Dementia can be like opening doors with the wrong keys. Everything gets mixed up, all the places you’ve been and all the people you’ve met behind every door, or behind no door anymore.

IMG_6292First test: concrete.

IMG_6299Result: a fossilised feeling, time has stopped.

IMG_6320Second test: molds for wax casting.

IMG_6335Result: ghost key, fragile and blank like her fading memories.

IMG_6344Ghost keys stuck in concrete.

IMG_6384Saved in jars the keys loose their function even more.

 

Control system

Everything changed a little bit to the left.

I wake up at the subway with no idea of where I’m going. Who was I when getting on this train? I look out the window. We create this hard world. Then we create shoes to walk on it without damaging out feet. Lights passing outside in the dark while I’m trying my shoes against the floor.

Everything will move back again to the way it was and they will tell me what station to get off at.

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Silicone cubes

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Shellac and fabric box

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Collapsing cube of bandage and shellac

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Bloated cube of raw hide and concrete

 

New Beginning

I find the most difficult part of a project to be when I’ve finished one part and it’s time to start over again with the next. It is this strange situation of being done and not even having started at the same time. To get back into the process I usually just start doing something, anything, trying things out without so much thinking. Maybe take an element from earlier in the process and play around with it to see if it gives any clues.

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Like stacking bags of concrete side by side

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And let the light shine through the cracks

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Or making thin layers of silicone and shellac

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Just to see if it leads anywhere.

Stacking

Dear Society,

Is it just these people I’m outside of, or is it everyone?

You raise us as islands and teach us to see ourselves as individuals, separated from the rest of the world. You isolate us in little compartments, stacked close together in big buildings, but separated so completely as if existing in different dimensions. We live on controllable islands of sameness in an ocean of otherness.

But you’re forgetting that there is no word for the difference between me and the world.

Or am “I” that word?

Doubtfully, The Introvert

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Stack of concrete compartments

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Stack of velvet compartments

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Group of cages/city scape

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Stacking compartments close together

As the hide dries

Dear Outside,

Where do I end and you begin? Everything is just the same kind of materials, repeated over and over and reused over and over. How can a division ever be made? Or is it the division that makes the materials relevant? Without division no change, without change no time and without time no life. Without you no me.

Yours truly, The Inside

 

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Drying raw hide, sewn on to cast concrete

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Dried hide, revealing the structure of the concrete underneath

Quite concrete

Dear Poets,

You’ve told me that no one is an island. But also that everybody dies alone. Which is it? I’m finding it hard to figure out if I am an isolated container of life or if we’re all just reflections of the same thing, whatever that thing is. And you seem to be of every opinion. You probably don’t know either and in the meantime we keep pulling in both directions, drawing lines between people but doing almost anything to be allowed to belong.

Love, The Reader

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