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Urban Concerns / Amy Franceschini / Nearest Nature

2008-09-06 to 2008-09-21

Artist and designer Amy Franceschini (U.S.) is interested in sustainability and the relationship between man and nature. At Bildmuseet she is presenting Nearest Nature, a workshop and an exhibition exploring the importance of language when conceiving of and categorizing the natural environment.

Amy Franceschini works with installations, social actions and publications. In 1995 she founded the on-line magazine Atlas and the organisation Futurefarmers with the vision of bringing professionals together from various fields for multidisciplinary collaborations. Alongside her artistic work Amy Franceschini lectures at the San Francisco Art Institute, California College of the Art, Stanford University and University of San Francisco.

The workshop and the exhibition Nearest Nature at Bildmuseet engages with the pivotal role of language when we define and denominate nature. Amy Franceschini takes as her point of departure Carl von Linné’s mapping and systematizing of species to encourage a discussion on how we categorize our natural environment. What social and cultural value systems could be traced in Linné’s flora? Carl von Linné, the founder of taxonomy, established the scientific criteria for naming and defining plants. However, his own set of values and his view upon the world was not absent when he named organisms by for example referencing mythical characters like Andromeda.

In the workshop, carried out on August 30-31, Amy Franceschini invited the general public to participate in creating alternative classifications of plants. Classifications founded in the participants’ individual and social references. Accompanied by botanist Stefan Ericsson, Umeå University, Amy Franceschini undertook a walk following in the footsteps of Linné, identified and collected plants from the Gammlia forest, drew them and gave them new names and descriptions with the ambition to create a new database of plants. The outcome of this workshop has formed the basis of the exhibition Nearest Nature, presented at Bildmuseet.

Nearest Nature is curated by Swedish freelance curator Veronica Wiman. Nearest Nature forms part of the project Urban Concerns, Bildmuseet’s ongoing collaboration with Johannesburg Art Gallery. 

The Gendered City

Performance and workshop in Döbelns Park, Umeå
Saturday 6th September at 2 pm–6 pm
Who has the right to the city? Does equality in the city space exist? How can the city be made more accessible? The outdoor seminar The Gendered City aims to initiate a dialogue concerning public space and gender. Döbelns Park in central Umeå has been turned into a venue for art, performance and dialogue for one day. Citizens in Umeå are invited to join in discussions on the city’s infrastructure and the political, social and existential implications of the city environment.

The public is also invited to both enjoy and participate in artistic performances in the park. The art and design group RACA presents Public Notes, a project in which they have collected thoughts and ideas from Umeå residents. Architect Johan Carlsson invites the public to join him in a queer Mazurka dance, 3 Minuter Stad (Three Minute City). Artist Anthea Moys (South Africa) who claims that depression also strikes cities offers the public to undertake different treatments to cure or relieve this condition. Artist and designer Amy Franceschini (US) makes a performance inspired by Carl von Linné’s system of classification. Artist Camilla Påhlsson (Sweden) encourages us to make out more in public space. Other participants in the dialogue and discussions on the city are local artists, researchers from Umeå University, representatives from the City Council of Umeå, non-governmental organisations and activist groups.

The workshop The Gendered City has been initiated and curated by Veronica Wiman in close collaboration with Camilla Påhlsson. The Gendered City is part of the project Urban Concerns, which is carried out within the framework of the Swedish-South African Culture Partnership Programme, a bilateral fund for culture exchange, administered by Statens Kulturråd in Sweden and the Department of Arts and Culture in South Africa.

Urban Concerns (Friendly Takeovers)

Since early 2007 Bildmuseet and Johannesburg Art Gallery has engaged in a mutual cultural exchange project, Friendly Takeovers. A key component in this project is the collaboration between the two invited external curators Michelle Harris, South Africa and Veronica Wiman, Sweden. Together they have conceptualized a joint programme, Urban Concerns, which will be carried out during 2008. Developments and changes in urban space, people’s relation to and experience of public spaces and the city are some of the issues raised within Urban Concerns.

At Bildmuseet Urban Concerns is launched on Saturday January 19th at 2 pm. This starting event consists of several parts. A solo exhibition with the South African artist Sharlene Khan, her first presentation in Sweden, will open. The show includes her installation Two Fish and Five Loaves and the wall piece (B)LACK, two works that take as their starting point city life in the metropolises of South Africa, discussing the presence of informal economies as well as questions related to immigration and xenophobia.

Invited to participate in Urban Concerns, artist Daniel Peltz’s has worked with students from Östra gymnasiet in Umeå in a 3-day workshop at Bildmuseet on January 16-18. The purpose of the workshop is to facilitate youth in Umeå and Johannesburg to communicate with each other in an on-line video dialogue. The workshop in Umeå is part of Peltz ongoing international project Call and Response and it is realized in close collaboration with Kulturverket in Umeå.

RACA – Danish graphic designer Pulsk Ravn and Swedish architect Johan Carlsson – is participating with a site specific spatial installation at Bildmuseet, The Hub, which will serve as a meeting place and information centre for Urban Concerns. RACA is also producing a poster project, Public Notes, in the city of Umeå, a project that is thought of as an interactive public ”scrapbook” with the intention to map how inhabitants in Umeå view and perceive of their environment. Equally, in The Hub, visitors can access how citizens in Johannesburg comment on their city. Later in the year RACA will also contribute to Urban Concerns with a social interaction in Umeå och Johannesburg.

Urban Concerns/Friendly Takeovers is carried out within the framework of the Swedish-South African Culture Partnership Programme, a bilateral fund for culture exchange, administered by Statens Kulturråd in Sweden and the Department of Arts and Culture in South Africa.

Artists Sharlene Khan, Daniel Peltz, Johan Carlsson together with Curator Veronica Wiman will be present for the press conference and the opening.

Urban Concerns is carried out within the framework of the Swedish-South African Cultural Partnership Programme, a bilateral fund for cultural projects administered by Statens Kulturråd in Sweden and the Department of Arts and Culture in South Africa.