47:e festivalen 26 jan - 4 feb, 2024

Theresa Traore Dahlberg: “It is proof of a frozen time”

Theresa Traore Dahlberg is the 2023 festival artist and in her work she has been inspired, among other things, by her grandmother's fairy tales.

47:e festivalen
26 Jan -
4 Feb, 2024

The 2023 festival poster is now revealed. In the work, artist Theresa Traore Dahlberg has been inspired by contemporary ideas about efficiency, a Swedish printed circuit board factory and a West African hare that she found in the basement of the Ethnographic Museum in Stockholm.

Buy the poster here

The motif in the background is made of a unique glass material that contains a specific type of copper from a Swedish printed circuit board factory with whom I have collaborated for ten years. Making circuit boards is the first step of a product, and this factory has produced materials used in everything from intercoms to X-ray machines. In my work, I have fused glass and copper in a furnace. The temperature is approximately 800 degrees, and everything is in the oven for three days, but how the motif turns out depends on factors such as how quickly the material is heated up and cooled down. I’ve been working with fusing for many years and researching different recipes, but I can never fully control how the finished design will turn out. In the motif of the festival poster, you can still see traces of the printed circuit board, but at the same time, it is clear that a shift in the material has been captured. It becomes like evidence of frozen time, with the ashes on the sides and the motif itself in the middle. The factory that made the printed circuit boards is closed now, and the production takes place elsewhere– similar to recurring themes in my art: global movements and changes.

While working with Ethnographic Museum in Stockholm, I found a piece of art – a small, tiny hare that had come to Sweden around 1930. To my surprise, that species of hare comes from Burkina Faso, the same place my grandmother was born. Her fairy tales still resonate with me today, which inspired me to create my hare, Hakili. When I collaborated with the bronze casting collective in Burkina Faso, it came out that this little hare had not been seen in Burkina Faso for several generations. It raised questions: What happens if pieces of cultural history are removed? How do we think about ownership and sharing, locally and globally? Also, questions about restitution? What will happen when they are exhibited again in a new guise there? And what happens when they meet in a Swedish environment? From these questions, the bird, Idrix, was created. We need to know our history to be able to look forward. The bird is also inspired by sci-fi and thinking about possible futures. The song I remember most clearly from my grandmother’s fairy tales is about a bird, another starting point for Idrix. The story is very much about greed and long-term thinking, and for me, there is a clear connection to the society we live in now, with all the thoughts that everything should be maximized, more efficient, and expected to produce more and more. Those thoughts are connected to my work around vanished industries, where many decisions are not always in sync with nature, culture and inhabitants. For me, the bird is simultaneously about where we have been, where we are and where we are going. Idrix also reminds me to look up and think beyond what we see and have right now. There is also something about the bird’s wings and beak being at rest, directed towards the ground – it  is pride and wisdom, filled with unanswered questions and mystery. 

Text: Simon Andersson

Festival Artist: Theresa Traore Dahlberg
Layout: Esteban Berrios Vargas
Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger

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