Imaginary Life

With everyone’s imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world.

The exhibition by Pavel Matveyev at Cigarrvägen 13, Stockholm, is titled “With everyone’s imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world #3.” A complex and though-provoking title presents a very simple installation of one large scale photographic image to be viewed from an armchair, with headphones of a soundscape, an audio documentation from the same site.
The image he chose was of an abandoned manor house on the outskirts of Moscow. The house was originally an aristocratic palace, but like many buildings of its kind, was converted into a public institution during Soviet times. After the revolution, properties that weren’t converted into sanatoriums or hospitals fell into disrepair. And in turn, those institutions have long since been abandoned.

With everyone’s imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world #3

With everyone’s imagination atrophied, no one will ever be a threat to the world #3

The specific history of this house, although uncertain, calls into a questioning of what history and cultural identity means in the post-soviet era. Without a ‘golden age’ to fall back upon, how can these fading, decrepit romantic visions be anything more than documents of catastrophe? What image of ‘culture’ can be salvaged from history to remain relevant to today and moving forward? The manor house is viewed through an entanglement of overgrown branches. Dead wood obscuring the view a once splendid, great culture? Or a new, neural network emerging out of the ruins? Maybe both.

The most interesting part of the exhibition is not the image by itself, or image as art, but the decision by the artist to merely wallpaper the gallery with the image and guide the viewer to be seated in a comfortable old-fashioned armchair, to view the work whilst listening to an audio sample taken from the site. The work becomes temporal and highly evocative as you are emerged in the soundscape and the blown up patterns. You can hear and feel that this is a documentary of an abandoned space as you are surrounded by the rustling of leaves and the feint sound of dogs barking in the distance. It is a catastrophe that has happened. It is too late. You wait for a narrative or voice to appear, some semblance of human presence, but it never does. The audio is on a 3-minute loop, offering no answers and no conclusions. You almost start to hallucinate traces of human life. Can you hear voices or music in the background or is that sound from outside the gallery, the here and now seeping in through the corners? For a few minutes you are thrown into a powerful drama in this space. But it is emotion observed, not filtered, emotion filled with gentle acceptance.

Elena Fanailova describes Matveyev’s work as a contemplation of the “post-Soviet, post-cultural, post-historic space devoid of emotive meaning.” But the work itself is far from lacking in emotion: you are caught somewhere between a photograph, a still image and a film you once saw. It’s like watching a Tarkovsky film for the first time, but even that analogy is far too obvious. When so much of our consumption of images, still and moving, happens in the digital realm, this is a space in between, a ‘Russian’ sensibility in exile. You are a foreigner to the experience but complicit in it. Fanailova writes: “There is no pity, no nostalgia, only the purity of observation: photography and sound. This is post-history, post-culture, post-game.”

Whether this is a questioning of a image-making, a nostalgic longing for a meaningful contemporary cultural identity, or a personal coming-to-terms-with-history, Matveyev captures your heart through your senses with a sensitive and elegant intervention. He swiftly avoids the work becoming bombastic or clichéd by merely pointing us to experience an image in a new way again. It’s optimistic: your imagination is not atrophied; it just needs to be awakened gently. Matveyev’s exhibition is a commentary on all the consumption of all ‘culture’, bringing into question the relentless flow of images we experience on a daily basis in bite-sized packages of ‘history.’ Imagination is not dead or atrophied. But we must understand that images contain a tremendous power to influence on the way we think. They direct our awareness, and by doing so, shape our world view and our collective memory -no matter who we are or where we are from.

About the artist
Pavel graduated from Moscow State University’s faculty of journalism in 2002, and in 2006-2007 studied photography at the University of Brighton, UK. In 2012 he received his Master’s degree in Fine Arts from Konstfack in Sweden, where he is now a permanent resident.
In his work Pavel Matveyev explores connections between the private and the public, reflecting on nostalgia, melancholy and the luxury of boredom, often investigating notions of the gaze and the poetic image. In this process he employs simple tools in the form of photographic and audio recordings. His works are held in private collections in Sweden, UK, France, Norway and Russia and he has exhibited at Konstfack, Gävle konstcentrum and Arkitekturmuseet, Stockholm.

About the space
Cigarrvägen 13 is a 30-square-metre art space run by Stockholm-based artists Ami Kohara, Frida Krohn, Ylva Trapp, Johan Wahlgren, Helena Piippo Larsson, Maryam Fanni and Lisa Renvall. Together they form an artists collective who aim to make it easier for all types of local artists to exhibit their work. Cigarrvägen 13 has been opened with support of Stockholms stad.

Monefy my video! is a Swedish startup enabling online video content publishers to monetize their content. has just been spotlighted on Artic Start Up, excellent resource for keeping up with Scandie news, and the latest web development areas in general. Videofy me was started by our good friends Robert Mellberg and Oskar Glauser in August 2008, beginning life as a blog portal and video production house called Dayrobber.

Witnessing the fast growing gap between the online video content on blogsphere and the lack of ad solutions available for the long tail content publishers, Robert and Oscar turned Dayrobber into a platform for bloggers to not only videofy their blog content but share ad revenue and get marketed to wider audiences by the Stockholm based company. Since the release of the first beta for four months ago they’ve been gaining traction among content publishers and advertisers, setting the wheels in motion for to evolve around one concept of enabling Joe Blogg to get their quality content out to a global niche interested audience, far beyond the capabilities of youtube. Whatever will be in the future- the concept of shared revenue is a sure hit. See the full article here.

Creators Inn by Elvine

In Stockholm a new hotel-in-hotel concept is opening at the Hotel Scandic Malmen called the Creators Inn. The idea was to design a room based on a creative type of person who was visiting Stockholm, catering to their needs through the concepts of function, products and services.

The room is split up into three different sections: the local library, the dream study and the relaxing spa. You’re basically given a ton of space in which you can hang out or work, depending upon what your mood is. The rooms even come with a bike which you can ride around town and clothes you can wear in case you don’t have anything clean…

This feels very in the spirit of Ace Hotel or The Standard, but there seems to be more of a personality to the project. The idea that you can call up a Creative Concierge and ask them to play video games with you is a PR driver. We wouldn’t mind having a night or two there since we live (and play) in Stockholm. Gift vouchers most welcome 😉

Thanks to Kitsune Noir and Marivel Martinez for the tip.

Steso songs from Sweden

Steso songs live at Novells release party for issue # 1-2 2009 at Moderna Museet in Stockholm this month…

New reading space at Moderna Museet

The new reading space for children at Moderna Museet (The Modern Museum) in Stockholm, Sweden, was developed by artist Laercio Redondo and designer Birger Lipinski. The commission required a permanent space located in the museum´s public area where children and the general public could sit down and browse a collection of art books.
The structure is similar to a pavilion, where sliding wall sections using opaque multi-colored acrylic plates serve as space dividers and bookshelves. inside this space, a low two-level-structure with loose cushions provide seating for the visitors. a mirrored wall expands the sense of space of the room.
This project was inspired by Lewis Carroll’s book “Alice in wonderland”, playing with the perception of the interior and exterior, of transparency, volume and light, of color and depth. Focusing on the simple architectural aspects, the project attempts to create an open space where people can meet, and be players on a small stage where the play is the interaction of visitors within the space.

Shooting stars, proposal for revitalising public space

This public art project by Laercio Redondo and Birger Lipinski was developed for a competition by the Eva Bonnier donation committee and the city council of Stockholm.
Short listed and later awarded, the project proposed to revitalize a basketball court and its surroundings at Åsötorget in Södermalm.
The original surface layer of the basketball court is replaced with black concrete slabs that are dotted with fiber optic light channels. any movement on the surface results in a shower of glimmering light and shadow on the surface, tracing the movements of the visitors as they interact with each other and the site. a low two-level concrete bleacher along side the court replaces the existing park bench and new lighting is installed.
These simple measures have the potential to draw attention to the site, trigger playful activity of both adults and children alike, and contribute to a sense of local community in the Åsötorget as the basketball becomes a recognizable meeting point instead of merely a short cut between places as it is today.
Awarding the project, the jury stated: “Shooting stars” – for its social commitment and wish to change a worn-out basketball court and its surroundings at the same time as it brings a starry sky to the ground. a piece that underlines the creative force of art and possibility to alter and engage a public space. it emphasizes an unexploited resource among artists to see everyday life through another perspective and to prepare ideas for radical changes.”

The Prince of Assyria’s imaginarylife

imaginarylife is proud to be working with Prince of Assyria, and a new approach to music distribution that we call “music by merit, not marketing.”

Our Stockholm/Berlin based singer-songwriter is launching his new 2009 album Missing Note independently, collaborating with imaginarylife, after turning down deals with major record labels EMI and Universal.

The tracks will be spread for free through private networks, on and offline. Each song is connected to an artist who enriches the total album experience with a unique interpretation of one of the tracks.

Prince of Assyria – The music.
Prince of Assyria’s début single What Ever You Want is already available as a download but is now set to become a much sought-after item on vinyl, with this highly limited edition seven-inch release. Issued by the Kning Disk label (sic), it subtly presents the different strengths of Dankha’s songwriting capabilities. The first promo single is a moving introduction to the new 2009 album Missing Note.
It’s fitting for someone who embodies such contradictions that the début track Whatever you want is at times both understated and deliciously ornate. For those of you who savoured this track, the new album will be no disappointment. Dankha’s composition mines a rich seam of melancholy which is reminiscent of Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake and Bill Callahan, pleading for another chance while he hunches over a guitar, and abandons all restraint in evocative choruses that etch themselves into your memory. The simple acoustic setting is perfect for his sonorous tones and intelligent lyrics, complementing the album’s sombre, yet joyfully uplifting and lyrical feel.
There’s a sudden shift of emphasis in the soaring chorus of his songs, building from low-key melancholy to something that provides an even weightier emotional punch, and proves that he has an uncanny grasp of soaring melodrama too. Soaked in maudlin strings (Prince of Assyria is sometimes accompanied by a violin and cello duo) the wringing of gently acceptant sadness emerges from deeply personal lyrical motifs, that we can all identify with: poignant and intelligent lyrics stay with you for days as you find yourself remembering phrases such as “Love is not negotiable” from the epic love song Tears of Joy that is set to become an instant classic. The lightness of touch in all the chorus melodies make the otherwise heavy-hearted atmosphere more than palatable- it is positively addictive.
Prince of Assyria is certain to be a prized and played possession in many music collections, sitting along side other New Swedish favourites such as José Gonzales or Ane Brun.

Streetstar Stockholm

…Dennis da Menace is dancing his way through Stockholm to the tunes of local hero Sandro Monte’s “Don’t mess”