Artist residency – Gotland

With the Brucebo Foundation, Sweden
Summer 2012
Archives from the project residency:
Drawings, klecksographies and stories

The Magic of Thresholds

Surrounded by the sea and by the aura of its Viking history, the island of Gotland seems to find itself, in its way, at the borderline. Land of dreams and solitude, the island is a singular space that awakens the imagination; between the boundary of its edge and the infinite opening of its horizon is a threshold that closes and opens worlds.

On the eastern part of the island, on a picturesque estate at the edge of the sea, evidence of the life and work of a pair of artists emerges. In this sort of phantom place in the likeness of these long departed hosts, invited artists, left to themselves for the length of a sojourn, keep company with the silent presence of those who came before them.

Spectral drawing session, Brucebo estate

Portrait of Caroline Benedicks & William Blair Bruce (1856 – 1935) – my phantom host

Spectral Drawing (mask and myth)

Gotland was first discovered by a man called Tjelvar. Then, Gotland was so bewitched that the island sank beneath the waves by day and rose again at night. This man, however, was the first to bring fire to the island, and afterwards it never sank again
– From Guta Saga, The Tales of the Gutes

On the other side of the island, in the heart of the forest, the legendary tomb of Tjelvar, a fabulous funerary site at the borderline of the real and the mythical, appears as visible testimony to the magic of the threshold.

Klecksography at Tjelvar funerary site, Gotland

Klecksography at Trullhalsar, Viking cemetery, Gotland

Klecksography is a technique from the 18th century that consists of dropping ink on a sheet of paper to create a symmetrical stain. The technique, known to have inspired the psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach (1884-1922) for the creation of his famous test, was first initiated by the German scientist and poet Justinus Kerner (1786-1862). Interested in the supernatural, Kerner came up with klecksography as a way to communicate with the spirit realm.

“How the inkblot, or our reading of it, can evoke histories from the past?” Kerner might have asked. “Like a psychic motif, the masks of History reveal who we are and what has been” he might have answered.

Själsö, Gotland


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