(yes, it is) 23 of May – 26 of June I’ll be one of three residents in the project Walking Peace in the Avian Kingdom in Sweden, organised by ARNA at the very spot where two pilgrim trails meet in Harlösa. Walking Peace is a green, slow and peaceful way of making new connections across cultural backgrounds and religions, creating art as a statement for peace while walking. Afterwards I'll be researching the pioneer life in Värmland.


A red house, a blue house

I arrived in a red house. A house with a history, a story. A lonely house in the woods. No electricity or running water. I live here with some other people. Every day we walk the 20 minute walk to our hosts, to Jeppe and Andrea who are living the pioneer life and need help doing that. Building, clearing, foraging, gardening. I’m learning about plants, preserving food, self-sufficiency. About people and life. About myself.

Before I came here I was in the south of Sweden, near the city of Lund, in an art project about walking the pilgrim trails. I travelled to Sweden in a three piece walking suit, a suit that was part of my art project, a suit in which I walked the pilgrim trail from the west coast to the east coast of Sweden. A suit in which I collected stories.
For the exhibition that was part of this project I brought another suit, a suit from an earlier art project, a suit embroidered on the inside with 108 drawings and texts. And during my stay I bought a third suit for an upcoming project.

So I travelled up north with 3 suits in my suitcase. And I laughed about it. Because there is no use for a suit in a pioneer life. At least that is what I thought.

I had seen photos of the red house before I arrived. I heard its sad story. It made me think of Tranströmer poem “The blue house”. A red house, a blue house.

When I arrived in the house I was offered the upstairs room in the back of the house. It is a lovely room. It smells of dried plants. It has a window overlooking the forest.
In the room there is a closet. In the closet I discovered a pair of old shoes. A white shirt. A woolen suit. It has been worn a lot.

The person who lived in this house was called the Captain. Outside there’s a wooden boat. Nobody knows where he went. But he left his boat behind. His boat and a shipload of empty rum bottles. And a big stain on the kitchen ceiling resembling a galaxy.

All that and a suit.

Tomas Tranströmer
The Blue House

It is night with glaring sunshine. I stand in the woods and look towards my house with its misty blue walls. As though I were recently dead and saw the house from a new angle.

It has stood for more than eighty summers. Its timber has been impregnated, four times with joy and three times with sorrow. When someone who has lived in the house dies it is repainted. The dead person paints it himself, without a brush, from the inside.

On the other side is open terrain. Formerly a garden, now wilderness. A still surf of weed, pagodas of weed, an unfurling body of text, Upanishades of weed, a Viking fleet of weed, dragon heads, lances, an empire of weed.

Above the overgrown garden flutters the shadow of a boomerang, thrown again and again. It is related to someone who lived in the house long before my time. Almost a child. An impulse issues from him, a thought, a thought of will: “create. . .draw. ..” In order to escape his destiny in time.

The house resembles a child’s drawing. A deputizing childishness which grew forth because someone prematurely renounced the charge of being a child. Open the doors, enter! Inside unrest dwells in the ceiling and peace in the walls. Above the bed there hangs an amateur painting representing a ship with seventeen sails, rough sea and a wind which the gilded frame cannot subdue.

It is always so early in here, it is before the crossroads, before the irrevocable choices. I am grateful for this life! And yet I miss the alternatives. All sketches wish to be real.

A motor far out on the water extends the horizon of the summer night. Both joy and sorrow swell in the magnifying glass of the dew. We do not actually know it, but we sense it: our life has a sister vessel which plies an entirely different route. While the sun burns behind the islands.