Viet Nam Discourse by Marion von Osten with Peter Spillmann
10.6–25.9 2016 Viet Nam Discourse Stockholm. Marion von Osten in collaboraion with Peter Spillmann, Center for Post-Colonial Knowledge and Culture, as part of The Eros Effect: Art, Solidarity Movements and the Struggle for Social Justice
Artist and researcher Marion von Osten and Peter Spillmann (Berlin) will use Peter Weiss’s renowned play Viet Nam Discourse (1968) to reflect the relationships between the “Third World Solidarity” within the Anti-Vietnam war movement, political art, and the emergence of radical aesthetics. A temporary archive, film screenings, lectures, and a summer course in collaboration with the choreographer Stina Nyberg and School of Dance and Circus (DOCH) will be organized to discuss the transnational meeting between art and solidarity. The goal is to put on parts of Viet Nam Diskurs in Sweden for the first time ever. Set designer Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss and filmmaker Staffan Lamm will also contribute to the project.
Very few international solidarity movements have been as influential as the Vietnam movement. It involved an entire generation and formed the breeding ground for future political activities regarding the Third World. Beyond worldwide protests and demonstrations, the struggle was highly supported by artists, cultural workers, and intellectuals. In 1967, the philosophers Bertrand Russell and Jean-Paul Sartre organized the Russell-Sartre Tribunal at Folkets hus in Stockholm, aiming to investigate the US war crimes in Vietnam. The Tribunal members included some of the most prominent thinkers of that time, such as the writers Simone de Beauvoir, James Baldwin, Sara Lidman, and Peter Weiss.
As a consequence of cultural workers taking an active part in the political movement, the most urgent social issues were also raised within the context of art. One of the most interesting examples is Peter Weiss’s Viet nam Diskurs, from which the exhibition borrows its name. The play formed the starting point for Weiss’s new genre “documentary theatre,” in which the stage functioned as a platform for education and political mobilization. The 1968 premiere at the Schauspielhaus in Frankfurt caused a big scandal. Viet Nam Diskurs opened its political agenda, aiming to educate Western society about Vietnam’s history and pointing towards anti-colonial and non-imperialistic alternatives.
In 2016, Peter Weiss will celebrate his 100th birthday. The exhibition thus serves as an apt opportunity to highlight Weiss’s fascinating and cross-genre artistic practice. Through plays, novels, and paintings, Weiss portrayed the contemporary with a sharpness that scarcely faded in relevance. Viet Nam Discourse, The Aesthetics of Resistance, and other works contain analyses that are also highly relevant in our time. For this exhibition, von Osten and Spillman will collaborate with Gunilla Palmstierna-Weiss, who, as set and costume designer, played a central role in producing Viet Nam Diskurs. The exhibition will return to the play’s innovative form, choreography, and public reception. A contemporary reader will be confronted with the extent to which the Vietnam movement affected the emergence of the New Left in Europe and the United States. The temporal archive includes interviews, historical documents, photographs, testimonies, and a meeting place for studies and activations of the exhibited material.
In Ingela Ihrman’s peculiar imagery, plants adopt human characteristics and new mythologies grow in the shrubbery. Ihrman is interested in how humans interact with other species. What social significance do animals and plants have in our lives? What stories are created around troublesome species, around vermin and weeds? As part of Tensta Museum Continues.
Ihrman describes her perspective as ethno-biological, which means that the focus is not on nature itself but rather on how humans use and perceive it. The limits of norms and the action spaces of larger bodies are examined. Out of this, a loving relationship with clumsy existences and overgrown habitats develops. In the exhibition Future Flourish, we meet the hairy sculpture The Giant Hogweed and the sculptural costume Bjuvstegocefalen. At the opening and finissage, we take part in the performance Giant Otter Giving Birth.
Ingela Ihrman is based in Malmö. Her practice moves freely between performance art, installations, and writing and is characterized by humoristic and tactile handicrafts. In the video The Giant Knotweed Panflute Ensemble (2015), Ihrman has made pan flutes from last year’s giant knotweed stems. The composition is determined by the plant itself, and, in the unusual flute meditation, the viewer is invited to listen to the giant knotweed instead of trying to eradicate it. In the performance Giant Water Lily Victoria Amazonica BLOOMS (2012), which, for example, was performed when Tensta konsthall curated Stockholm Music & Arts in 2013, Ihrman is enrobed in a self-made water lily costume of cloth, plastic, and golf tees. She stages the water lily’s spectacular flowering, which only occurs two nights per year. Costumes and directed situations reoccur in Ihrman’s art practice. In the video Obstacle (2013), a toad tries to get itself through the different stations of an obstacle course in a gymnasium, and when Ihrman performs with the music and art project The Botanical Garden of Hägerstens, otters and flowers enter the stage. The Botanical Garden of Hägerstens, which, besides Ihrman, also consists of the artist Sofia Hultin and the musician Johan Eriksson, has toured all over Sweden. Unlike many other botanical gardens, The Botanical Garden of Hägerstens is not so interested in naming, classification, and origin. Instead, they are keen to keep the collection unsorted. Over the years, the garden has arranged everything from a gala in support of the Baltic Sea to a radio show for broken gardener hearts.
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