“With effect from the 14th of March 1992, we are annexing and occupying the following territories:
I. All border frontier areas between all countries on earth, and all areas (up to a width of 10 nautical miles) existing outside all countries' territorial waters. We designate these territories our physical territory.
II. Mental and perceptive territories such as: the Hypnagogue State (civil), the Escapistic Territory (civil) and the Virtual Room (digital).
On the 27th of May 1992 at 12 noon GMT, we proclaimed the state of Elgaland-Vargaland.”
Thus begins the declaration signed by two Swedish artists, Leif Elggren and Carl Michael von Hausswolff, self-proclaimed kings of a bizarre but incredibly plausible country: the Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland (or KREV). In the years, the country kept expanding, declaring – among other things – that everyone who is dead is automatically a KREV citizen. “And if any of them don’t want to be, they can file a complaint, and we will remove them from the list,” explains Elggren. “So far no one has complained,” adds von Hausswolff.
Halfway between political act and dadaism, King Leif I and King Carl Michael I play with rules, but their game is taken extremly seriously. Like when they tried to travel from Sweden to Estonia in 2001 carrying only Elgaland-Vargaland passports. The Estonian passport police didn't like that: their passports were confiscated and they were returned to Sweden the next day.
The Embassy Inauguration, held during the opening of the exhibition, will feature renditions of the KREV national anthem and a passport-making ceremony, where audience members can become citizens of KREV.
“THE KINGDOMS OF ELGALAND-VARGALAND”, 7 April – 31 May, 2017
Curated by Yelena Mitrjushkina, in collaboration with Richard Ceccanti and Caterina Galavotti.
Artists interpreting the Elgaland-Vargaland national anthem featured in the "Kings Waving" installation:
Vlad Badin / Danil Dasyatov, Olga Nane, Al Margolis, Unidentified (Caen), Unidentified (alphorn) #1, Unidentified (alphorn) #2, Unidentified (Biel - utopics), Stephen Travis Pope #5, Ditterich von Euler Donnersperg (Jürgenson Version), Ditterich von Euler Donnersperg (Klopstock version), Per Svensson, Lady Seven (Theremin), Marcus Davidson #1, Marcus Davidson #2, Mariachi Azteca Prinipal, Jugendmusik Biel, Juntaro Yamanouchi, Kabukabu, DJ Guacamole #1, DJ Guacamole #2, Carsten Nicolai, Andreas Führer, Anla Courtis, CM von Hausswolff, Jacob Kirkegaard, Klezmer Chidesch, Lary 7, Michael Esposito / Leif Elggren, Stephen Travis Pope #1, Dave Philips, Kampen Skoles Musikkorps, CM von Hausswolff / Leif Elggren, Underwater, John Duncan, Francisco Meirino.
“[…] knowledge is a network of interpretations, opinions and decisions, passed on from one to another to another. Truth is something you become aware of through your own experiences, by living them, examining and questioning them. A belief system can easily become a substitute for this, or an excuse to deny the existence of some experiences you may have that the system fails to explain.”
This guy is a legend.
Not because of his almost-half-a-century long carrier. Not because he has lived and worked in LA, Tokyo, Amsterdam and Bologna. Not because he has used an unusually large variety of media – direct action, film, painting, bookmaking, sound art, photography, dance. Not because he was one of the fathers of noise music. Not because all of that. Well, at least, not only.
He's a legend first of all because through his whole existence he pushed himself deeper and deeper into the inaccessible mystery of life. And he did so by the act of experiencing things. Things no one in their right mind would do. For his whole existence, he has pursued self-exploration through asking and answering questions that no one would dare to ask or answer. What it's like to be trapped in the darkness, completely naked, with a bunch of strangers? What it's like to point a gun loaded with blanks at a person's face and fire? What it's like to illegally broadcast adult videos on a pirate Japanese television? What feelings will I feel, and how these feelings will affect me? How they will affect the people I know? What will I discover about myself?
Duncan's not aiming to shock his audience, or provoke the easily irritable skin of society. He's like a child pressing buttons to see what happens. And like a child, he's eager to know, to learn, to discover.
Are you afraid of the unknown? Of course you are. We all are. Duncan knows that. He also knows that you won't confront yourself with it unless you're forced to. That's why he's doing it. You're welcome. No need to thank.
“John Duncan. Heavy, useless, no sense of humor”, 25 january – 15 february 2017
Curated by Yelena Mitrjushkina, in collaboration with Richard Ceccanti and Caterina Galavotti; catalogue essay by Sven Schlijper-Karssenberg