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Anna Livia Vørsel
It’s a morning in autumn 2020, and I have let myself into Spridd’s office. It is quiet and empty. The curtains are drawn and the light is off. I look at the dark computer screens and imagine all the drawings being made, emails sent, conversations had between staff members elsewhere, from their computers at home. Work being made and discussed and planned on digital platforms that I can’t see from here.
I have been following the work of the practice, tracing, recording and looking at knowledge production and transfer within their work, in the office (digital and physical), on site, in letters, drawings, models and in countless meetings online. This zine is a collection of documents, photographs and thoughts from my time with Spridd, tracing their work and relationship to one specific client, the contemporary art gallery Konsthall C in southern Stockholm.
Spridd has an ongoing relationship with the gallery, and the local area Hökarängen. In 2019 they built a pavilion for the gallery (Forskningsstationen) 1 See http://www.spridd.se/forskningsstation for more information. , a research station located in a private garden in the local area. They have taken part in the local initiative Bomassan, a ‘housing fair’ with a focus on city planning, community and resident participation. 2 The housing fair and the work around it is documented in the publication: Jens Strandberg. Gubbängsutredningen fortsätter. Arsta: Dokument Forlag, 2019. At the time of writing, they are taking part in conversations about the possibilities for a new art pavilion in the area.
This zine looks at the relationship between the practice and the client through a collection of documents. The pieces of text are included to show my own position to these sites and to the work of the practice, illustrating what I have chosen to pick up and look at, pointing also to other sites and actors.
We are the children from I Ur och Skur Näverhatten.
We are working with the letter C and we went and looked at your little house with the C on.
And we are wondering why the C is there?
What is in the house?
Does anyone live there?
Is it a guest house?
Why did you think that it would be great with another house, when you already have one?
Who has decided that it should look like that it flies on the stairs?
Who has built the house?
We would be happy if you would answer our questions. We are on Förvaltarvägen 15. It would be really exciting if we got a letter in our letterbox!
All of us at Näverhatten
(Translation of letter by author)
On September 25th 2020 a photograph of a hand-written letter from a group of children, makes its way to my email inbox on my computer. The letter is posted through the letterbox of a house in Hökarängen in southern Stockholm. The people who own and live in the house has taken a photograph of the letter and send it in an email to an architect from Spridd, who then forwarded me the photograph of the hand-written letter.
The authors of the letter are children from a kindergarden close to the house. The letter is about the building that sits in the garden of the house in Hökarängen. A small building with a pitched roof, large glass doors facing the street, a large wooden staircase and a C engraved in the façade above the door. They are working with the letter C, the children explain. They have walked past the building and have a lot of questions about it and its coming into being. ‘Why is the C there?’ they ask – alongside a list of other great questions.
The C is a complex element of the building, in that it isn’t just a letter, but a symbol, a decision, a reference, a tool and many other things. It points to many different people and places, and depending on who you ask, the answer to ‘why is it there’ will be different.
The C is indexical to Konsthall C, which also has a C on its façade. The small building is Konsthall C’s Forskningsstationen (Research Station), a residence space for “artists, curators, researchers and activists to work embedded in Hökarängen with questions regarding city planning, democracy and civil rights” as I can read on the contemporary art institution’s website. 3 http://www.konsthallc.se/en/info/forskningsstationen
The formation of Konsthall C is a public work of art, constituted through its ownership. In an interview, artist Per Hasselberg, founder of the work and institution, explains: “I början ägdes själva verket Konsthall C av Stadsdelsrådet. Så när Konsthall C ställdes ut på Modernautstillingen 2006, stod de som ägere av konstverket. Och det är i det här avtalet med ägeren – verkets ägere – som vi också formulerede hur konsthallan skulle jobba.” In the beginning the art work Konsthall C was owned by Stadsdelrådet. So when Konsthall C was exhibited at Modernautstillningen 2006, they were listed as owners of the work. And it is in this agreement with the owner – the owner of the art work – that we also articulated how the art gallery should function.[[[From interview with Per Hasselberg by Kim Einarsson, 20th January 2010. Available at: https://konsthallcse.cdn.prismic.io/konsthallcse%2F4fa7c6ac-5ebd-443d-9597-dd21c5b93ada_intervju+med+per+hasselberg.pdf
Translation by author.]]]
Forskningsstationen is also articulated through an agreement of ownership – between the gallery and the owners of the plot on which it is built. In the contract between the different parties, I can read how the land on which the research station sits, is borrowed by Kontshall C for eight years, after which, the land, and the building on it, is passed back to the owners of the deed of the plot. It hovers in-between public and private, in the same way as the building is ‘flying on the stairs’ as the children write in their letter.
Online, I look up the address of Konsthall C, Cigarrvägen 14, in Stockholm Stad’s Bygg – och Plantjänst archive. A long list of entries come up on my screen. Each an indication of an enquiry, a change, an application to the building on the address, dating from Jan 1st 1948 to Sep 12th 2018. I find two drawings of the building from before it was built. Drawings imagining – putting forward what it would become. There is no C on the façade, but detailed plans of a Centraltvättstuga. A communal laundry, boiler central and workshop for the neighborhood, complete with ‘Samlingssal’ (community hall) and ‘Sällskapsrum’ (event space).
In the bottom right-hand corner of the ground floor plan is a ‘förråd’, fitted out with rows of shelves. Today this room houses Hökarängsarkivet – a local community history archive established by the area’s cultural association and passionate individuals. The archive, and in extension the room, stores and traces the history of the building, the institution, the area and its people as it happens, in real time – with the delay it takes to label and arrange. The history and work of Konsthall C, their programs and exhibitions are also archived here. So is Forskningsstationen, and future projects with Spridd will be as well.
It’s early October and I am sitting at a table in Forskningsstationen. On the one wall is a small kitchen and cupboards, on the other a loft bed (single) and a double seater couch below. The third wall is a double-glazed door facing the street, the fourth a double-glazed door facing the garden behind. In the middle, a table with two chairs, my computer and a pile of books and documents I have found hidden in the cupboards, left behind by the people that were here before me. I am staying in the building for a couple of days, writing about it from within it.
I go to Konsthall C’s website, reading closer about the space I am in. The name of one of the books on the table appears on the screen in front of me. The publication Kvinnoledighetsdagen: Domestic Labour, Collectivity, Feminism and Migration by Home Works. 4 A curatorial research project at Konsthall C by artistic directors Jenny Richards and Jens Strandberg 2015-16. The other publication found in the cupboard is: Hilal, Sandi and Alessandro Petti, Permanent Temporariness, 2018. I read the book of collected texts, images and thoughts on labour, thinking about research and productivity, and productive research, of a community, with a community, and note:
The curtains are short. When people walk around in the house you can just see their feet from the outside. I close them when the working day is over.
Back in Stockholm Stad’s Bygg – och Plantjänst archive I come across the local city plan, and regulations for buildings in the area – unchanged since the 1950s. The regulations are accompanied by a map of the local area, setting out streets and plots before the area’s construction. The city planning lines are mirrored in a newer map, drawn by Spridd and included in a presentation for the clients during the design process. On Spridd’s map, the location of Konsthall C, and the proposed site for the research station are plotted in, representing, as the local city plan, a projected future.
In another affiliated folder in Spridd’s archive, I find a scanned copy of the building permit application for the research station, and the building construction drawings sent with it. The construction drawings are full of annotations regarding materials, construction and insulation – in dialogue with current building regulations. The size, shape and placement of the building, responding also to the regulations as set out in the local city plan.
In Spridd’s digital archive, on a computer in their office in Stockholm, I look at all the documents produced in the design process of the building. Maps of the area, plot analysis, measurements of distances to neighboring houses, the angle of the sun. I also come across a detail drawing, specifically detailing the C. It’s placement calculated according to the dimensions of the façade, the relief scaled alongside a human body. A note next to the letter say: “Font: Entlig besked från Konsthall C”. Font: Final answer fom Kosthall C.
The font of C on the building is a graphic reference to Konsthall C’s logo 5 By Graphic designers Maryam Fanni and Rikard Heberling . The placement of the C in relation to the roof, a reference to pediments of Roman temples and numerals engraved in facades.
“The floor is delicate”, it states in the building manual. I leave my shoes at door and feel the concrete floor through my socks as I enter.
On Spridd’s website I find a drawing of Forskningsstationen, the building set in an atmospheric context and shown in use. It’s inhabited by a person in a jumper and cat visible from the street – none are wearing shoes.
This outcome was part of the TACK Intermediate Meeting at Politecnico di Milano. The given task was the following:
“The Fanzine aims to analyze and conceptualize some crucial aspects of the secondment experience relevant to the doctoral student. Moreover, the Fanzine obliges the doctoral student to reflect by (physical) doing (a fanzine). As a meta-operative activity, typical of research-by-design, the fanzine assignment activates doctoral student’s tacit knowledge in producing a small publication to reflect on tacit knowledge of the practice where the secondment has taken/is taking place.”
- See http://www.spridd.se/forskningsstation for more information.
- The housing fair and the work around it is documented in the publication: Jens Strandberg. Gubbängsutredningen fortsätter. Arsta: Dokument Forlag, 2019.
- A curatorial research project at Konsthall C by artistic directors Jenny Richards and Jens Strandberg 2015-16. The other publication found in the cupboard is: Hilal, Sandi and Alessandro Petti, Permanent Temporariness, 2018.
- By Graphic designers Maryam Fanni and Rikard Heberling