DEAR MÅNA, HOW ARE WE DOING?
(IT TOGETHER IN THE FUTURE)
River rocks and water, porcelain from Porsgrunn factory
“Kultivator” is the experimental cooperation of organic farming and visual art practices, situated on the southeast coast of Sweden, in the rural village of Dyestad on the Öland island in the Baltic Sea.
By installing certain functions in abandoned farm facilities, near to the active agriculture community, Kultivator provides a meeting and working space that points out the parallels between provision production and art practice, between concrete and abstract processes for survival. They have been working in national and international projects since 2005, including site specific works in countryside Tanzania, South Africa, US, Ireland, Italy, Belarus and the Nordic countries, in addition to exhibiting artworks in urban centres. At their site on Öland, Sweden, Kultivator has a residency, exhibition space and a small scale agroforestry silvopasture with chicken, donkeys, sheep and horses. Since the start in 2005, more than a 100 artists, researchers and farmers has visited and worked on the premises.
In their work for the Solarpunk arts festival of 2023 in Rjukan, the group Kultivator has focused their interest on the river Måna and her history and possible future together with the multi-species communities she runs through. From her past of connecting mountain lakes to the sea with a delicate ecosystem of migrating life forms, moving sediments, and contributing through millennia to the planet's hydrologic cycle, going into supplying energy to what would become an industrial world heritage, and soon about to feed Salmon farms and server halls with her harnessed powers, she is the centrepiece of many entangled stories. What would her own say for the future be? Could we as artists, scientists or just members of human society, begin to hear that by speculating or imagining?
In the project Dear Måna… , Kultivator initiates a correspondence with the river, a long overdue letter, that experiments with modes of listening and giving voice. Mixing familiar language with attempts of speaking in river, having clay and Månas ceaseless current as companions in the work.
One part of the correspondence takes physical form in wet clay letters in the riverbed that Kultivator entered on Thursday the 29th of June. The performance of shaping the letters, lowering them to the riverbed, and writing them in between Månas polished rocks and gravel took seven hours. After receiving the letter, she is now doing her reading; The words are dissolving, following her movement down through Rjukan, passing dams and turbines, eventually landing as a thin layer on the calm river floor in her mouth at Tinnsjøen. A note for her, and the human audience to follow her slowly moving the sediments of thought.
The sentence, “Dear Måna, How are we doing (it together in the future?)” is the start of a letter, and is to be continued by the visitors of the Solarpunk arts festival during the summer 2023, as another part of the correspondence. In Rjukan Varelagret, with a view over Måna, a small Office of experimental river communication is set up. Here anyone who wishes can continue the letter to Måna, using porcelain clay dissolved in her water as ink, writing or drawing on the walls or on rocks from her riverbed. Messages written on the rocks will be delivered back to Måna after the exhibitions end in September. The installation will, just as the clay letters at the river floor, be read and transformed by many to a not yet known form. Maybe, possibly, opening for a small shift in the way we look at time, control, and our ability to think with entities such as Måna in imagining the future.
all photo: Ingvill Sunnby