The leaking monument is a part of Statens konstråds kunskapssatsning “Lokala konstprojekt

Kultivator, Öland. Artists: Signe Johannessen, Erik Rören, Mathieu Vrijman and Trish Roan.

The project is run by the collective Kultivator on Öland and is a two-year artistic investigation of the water and wetlands on Öland. The background is the lack of water on the island in recent years, and the great impression it has made on us who live here, visitors and the landscape itself. The idea is to process and carry on the conversation about water management and future approaches to water directly in and around the environment where it is lacking. Where the problem exists and where the consequences of the water shortage directly affect the common living environment, both practically with drought and fires, and in people’s thoughts. We imagined our cultural landscape as a public, where both dry fields, wetlands, treatment plants and irrigation systems are part of a common project and above all a common concern, also for those who do not own and use the land.

We had and have an ambition to expand the idea of ​​publicity or habitats to places where we go in and harvest from the ecosystems, and want to see what an artistic intervention can do in such a context. In rural areas, in principle, all land is managed by private actors, with production as the main purpose / goal, and although what they may and may not do is governed by a number of regulations, it is a different kind of publicity that we are interested in investigating. How does democracy and co-determination work in this environment?

Dyestad’s mosse in the summer of 2018 photo: Kultivator

The project has been carried out both through planned larger and smaller events with invited participants, and through a continuous conversation between the artists. The basic idea of ​​the project, as part of the method, was that we wanted to do a joint work, instead of us as we have become accustomed to, letting individual proposals compete against each other. The invited artists thus had this as a prerequisite from the very beginning. We already decided during our first conversations together that we wanted to work with Trish from Australia at a distance, instead of a more traditional trip with residency on site on Öland, and created a kind of routine for conversations via video link. We started the project’s physical activities in December 2018, with a workshop at Öland Folk High School with the artists Signe Johannessen and Erik Rören and participants from the General course image and Action for sustainable development, who worked practically with sketches for fog catchers. In March 2019, we held the “water week” at Öland Folk High School, with the following program open to the public:

Compilation of water week

Excursion led by Carl Johan Månsson from Hushållningssällskapet to Dyestad wetlands. We will learn more about the key function of wetlands in the water cycle, and about how wetland restoration can take place in practice. We also visit a completely new large irrigation dam adjacent to Dyestad. The excursion involves a couple of km of hiking in terrain.

Lecture by Carl Johan Månsson “The value of water” on the importance of small waters for biological diversity, and on the planning for the construction of a pedagogical dam at Öland Folk High School. Location: Strömstedsalen at Öland Folk High School.

Do it yourself workshop in building hydroponic systems for home use led by Tobias Croce, which shows us how we can grow with minimal water consumption in beautiful recycled systems. During the day we will make our own systems that can be taken home and used immediately!

(Bus departs from Öland Folk High School) for Strandstädning, as part of the Nature Conservation Association Öland’s campaign in March. 

Lecture Lars Kylefors, “Water resources with a focus on spring environments” Collection in the Folk High School’s library for hiking to Skogsby spring. (approx. 15 min. walk) Led by Lars Kylefors.

Workshop with the artists Signe Johannessen and Erik Rören “before the water monument” Signe and Erik are together with Mathieu Vrijman and Trish Roan, Australia, the four artists who will work on a monument by 2020. During Thursday and Friday they lead a practical workshop where we try ideas together. Free material, lunch and coffee can be bought at the school.

Presentation of the artists in the project: Signe and Erik about their legendary Artlab Gnesta, and wetland collaborations they have made with Indian mangrove swamps. Mathieu from Kultivator about the background and purpose of the entire project, and Trish Roan gives a presentation at a distance from Australia.

Presentation by Marcus Vallien, “The role of water in self-sufficiency” on how he uses the water for carp and plant cultivation on his farm in Småland.

Celebration of World Water Day Friday 22 March with a joint reading for the Möckelmossen wetland on Stora Alvaret.

Towards the end of the year 2019, we had arrived at a plan for both construction and site on Öland and decided on another residency period for Signe and Erik on site, and Trish at a distance in May 2020 for the final construction of the plant. We also had a program for audiences and co-creators on site in the wetland next to the monument. In March – April 2020, based on the new conditions, we worked out a new plan, which could work without travel and physical meetings, but which also responds better to the project’s original intention of co-creation. We experimented with a digital poetry transfer to water, which was read in via a joint video link by participants in the Action for Sustainable Development course at Öland Folk High School, and then inserted in Dyestadsmosse, the wetland where the plant was to be built.

Our project has been permeated by several artistic ideas; To begin with, designed habitats exist and are at least as relevant outside the urban area. One way to convey that idea is simply to carry out the work with and in this place. In the next step, participation and cooperation before competition, which is something that is also rooted in a (desired) view of us and the ecosystems and landscapes we are inextricably linked to. We have both conveyed and implemented this with the method we have chosen for our project, joint creation with many participants.

A from below, from within perspective on the design of living environments has emerged, partly as a result of the size and complexity of the systems and regulations around water. The thickening of wetlands and the responsibility to keep the canals open are regulated in water judgments that still apply. The use of land for production is carefully controlled in EU agricultural support and is also often linked to bank lending. Dry-laying companies that were formed before the Second World War have continued legally binding commitments for landowners today.

Map 1938, Dyestad – Bjärby Torrläggningsföretag

The somewhat overwhelming contexts that govern our water management, together with global climate change, have led us and the artists we have invited to the opposite picture, an impulse to direct action in the seemingly impossible. We want to create monuments that are open, clear and that directly comment and act on the water issue. The realization that we would not create one, but several monuments came partly due to travel restrictions, but also a lot to “debureaucratize” the creation even more.

The project was then developed into a larger and more inclusive work, where monuments are created on site in Dyestad, Gnesta and Australia, and brought together on this digital platform with the call to other places, groups and individuals to create their own leaking system and share it with us here.

Finally, what has come out of the process is the idea that the systems we create and have created to control, master or in good cases manage water are leaking. Metaphorically and actually. And it is when they leak that life arises. In the moisture around a leaky gasket it turns green, at the dripping garden hose the insects drink. We want to leak the seeping insight that we and the water, we and the ecosystem sit together in the same stream, the same blood circulation. The digital dissemination of the monument (s) to more people will be the last and final leak, which in its own format wants to convey the ideas it comes from.