IDYLL, TURKU BIENNIAL
When asked to co-curate the Turku Biennial 2013 the concept of Idyll was already been decided upon, as well as the choice to invite one curator from each of the Nordic countries to choose representatives from each country with their take on the concept. When, in my head, I connected the dots of Nordic and Idyll the first thing that popped up in my head was the image that most Swedish people think about too instantaneously, namely the general imagery of the tremendously popular painter Carl Larsson. For many, his portrayals of his own home environment and family represent the stereotype and myth of the so called “genuine Swedishness”: the red house, the blond children, the wife sewing, a huge table with sausages, birches in the sun etc. and all painted quite naturalistic. However, to me, his painting represent the absolute contrary of what idyll is supposed to connote, actually something that makes me want to vomit – since it has become tightly knitted into the image used by conservatives nationalistically, as a fascistic Aryan stereotype of how things were when “men were men”, sausage was sausage and “Sweden was Swedish”, whatever that means. I see a direct link between Larsson's imagery and the times he lived in, where fascism and national socialism was not a stranger in many Swedish homes. I also see the link to Sweden today, where the so called Swedish Democrates recently were voted into the parliament, raising voices of xenophobia echoing the Nazi rants from the past century. Looking to all the Nordic countries, I find a strong neo-liberal wave in all the countries, as well as a lot of xenophobia and political parties lobbying xenophobic issues. This is happening all over Europe, and in any western country. This is why I had some problems adjusting to the word Idyll since it gives me the connotations of the opposite of what the word idyll stands for paradoxically enough. So what the f**k does the word idyll mean today? Some sort of utopian idea of... what exactly? And what kind of images would we connote with the word in more contemporary times?
Detail of Tilda Lovell, "Untitled, Landescape" 2013, animation and sculpture
Writing this text and thinking about what my own connotations to the more true meaning of «idyll» would be, the lyrics of the song “Aquarius” from the musical “Hair” came to mind (most likely it has something to do with my hippie wannabee upbringing) which represents yet another take on the term idyll:
”Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions”
Somehow, along the history of time, the intent of these lyrics became embedded in it's own era too, and the vision of the hippie-style ideas transformed into a cloud of marijhuana and diminished with a puff. The «Age of Aquarius» vanished with global warming and increased western agression against pretty much anything that is not, well, WASP and consumerist. So, Idyll today, again: what would that be? Clueless as I stand to the question at hand, I decided to invite three artists with a strong visual language, to somehow reflect on Idyll and to make it theirs. The artists I invited, Tilda Lovell, Valeria Montti Colque and Lisa Jeannin (featuring The Unholy), all represent individual, strong and very characteristical visual realms, and they all use their imagination to the maximum. It is my strong belief that they will take the question of the imagery of the idyll to the next level.