om jag var där

Video and sound installation
The space 60′
The people 40′
The interview (sound) 30′
screen 530 x 300 cm

The collective art group HAKA, based in Swedish city of Uppsala, invited me to work in a site-specific project at Köttinspektionen Art Gallery starting in the summer of 2015 and ending in a exhibition at the gallery during the month of January 2016. I worked in the space in different levels: as a metaphorical point of departure for a political reflection upon the urban planning Swedish policy, as a film set for a performance recording and finally as an installation space. The result of this process resembles a game of Russian Dolls where a viewer of the final installation can discover the strokes of all the layers.

Watch the exhibition

Along the month of August of 2015 I made a 60-minute movie about Uppsala and its spaces in transition. I started with the Köttinspektionen surroundings and every day I was traveling around in bigger circles. The idea was to make a portrait of the places that are changing or are candidates to get changed in a short-term, some sort of a mapping on the city documenting a catalog of those kind of spaces. For that time I wandered through the different layers of the city stopping and filming places that called my attention, always having in mind my point of reflection upon the urban transformation. After finalizing the experience I came to a few conclusions but I found many questions. Who inhabit these spaces? What is going on in there? What will happen to those spaces in the next coming years? How is the city growing and who decides it? The market? The politicians? The people? My place of origin, Spain, suffered one of the worst crises in its history due to overexploitation of the property market. I wonder if the Swedish model of access to housing is approaching to what led to disaster for my country.

Then it came the second part of the project. As an experiment I invited a group of young actors, all coming originally from Uppsala, to watch the movie. For that purpose I installed a large movie screen in the middle of the Köttinspektionen bigger hall. For the actors I prepared a theatrical set in front of the screen where they were able to watch the film. Then I was recording them while they watched the movie. I didn’t give them much explanation about the city portrait film or my intentions while making it. I just asked them to be in front of a camera during the viewing. No rules were set, they could perform as they wanted, get in and out of the set, interact among each other, just watch passively or actively interpret the images with body language, everything was admitted. The result of this video recording was a second movie, this time about a group of people watching and acting my depiction of their own city. Later, and already out of the camera I interviewed them so they had the chance to explain their impressions after the experience. I recorded the sound of this interview and it runs entirely, without cuts or editing, in the final video installation.

The final installation that the viewer saw in the big room was the result of all the three layers of the project. As the screen I use the same background wall that I used for filming the Actors. In that screen one could see the two movies projected individually and running at the same time in a physical overlay. Also the viewer could hear the full interview as a voice over. These three audiovisual elements were running in parallel but not synchronized. Then, since they have different lengths, never matched in a predetermined time or decided beforehand. Randomness made the final film always different.

Historical context

The black and white photograph corresponds to the original state of the building constructed by Anders Diös in 1930. This architect was close to the new functionalist architecture of the time and played an important role in the urban growth of the city. The building was originally intended as sanitation equipment for the growing village, the place to inspect and distribute meat. At that time the building was located on the outskirts of the city, in the picture can be observed that at the back there are only crop fields. This construction was declared of cultural interest listed building (K-mark). The space ceased to have its function when the city grew bigger and needed a more extensive services but it was preserved due to its status. Then it was quickly surrounded by an expanding industrial area located there to get the benefits of the proximity of the river as a means of transportation. At that point the building had diverse uses such as an art auction house, disco pub or municipal archives. Recently the place has become a cultural center that houses a theater company and an exhibition gallery run by a group of local artists named HAKA. Currently the former industrial area surrounding the building has moved to the new outskirts of the city leaving a free extension of space. That place is nowadays in the process of becoming a new neighborhood of apartments for sale. Köttinspektionen is located now in the heart of a process of gentrification.

Round table

In the occasion of the exhibition a round table was organized at the gallery to talk about the topic: Perception on urban transformation. I invited to participate to Irene Molina, Professor in Human Geography at Uppsala University’s Institute for Housing and Urban Research, Katrin Helena Jonsdottir, Icelandic Artist focused on audiovisual art and Jennifer Mack, Researcher at KTH School of Architecture.

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