November 2009

Winter installation - Freedom to Roam

fieldwork, henny linn kjellberg, freedom to roam, land rights
fieldwork, henny linn kjellberg, freedom to roam, land rights

We are happy to announce that the winter fieldwork installation was created last week.  Swedish artist Henny Linn Kjellberg's latest ceramic installation, 'freedom to roam', comprised of an over-sized barbed wire fence made with ceramic barbs, comments on land ownership and private property rights. 

Following is the artist's statement:

Freedom to Roam
(Allemansrätt / All men’s right)

wood, fence wire, ceramics
2009

Freedom to roam is a comment on land rights and the use of land. In Nordic
countries the freedom to roam is written in the constitution and an unspoken
knowledge that people are brought up with. Humbleness and respect is
woven into the concept: leave a site untouched, in the state that you found it.
Use, but don’t exhaust. Nature belongs to everybody – and nobody.

In North America there is a lot of private land and restricted areas. No
trespassing signs are common things for those who live here, but a strange
concept to a visitor. The ownership of land raises a lot of questions: what
is public, what is private? What is public space? Who controls it? Who has
the right to use public space and to act there? What gives some people the right to
deny others trespassing?

Those questions inevitably lead to another major theme that inspired
Freedom to Roam: conflicts, war and migration. Nations, borders and
crossings. The barbed wire fence in this context represents the ambiguity
and arbitrariness in the way that decision makers in states with more power
control people coming in or running away from the less powerful nations.
Who is granted access and who is not?

Freedom to Roam- Installation and Background

freedom to roam, barb wire fence, installation


During a couple of sunny and warm November days with generous help from Carl Lindquist and Susie Osler, the Winter -09 installation Freedom to Roam was set up. The 300 feet long fence follows the road and ends in a soft turn between the trees at the far end of the Fieldwork site. Even though it’s colors at this time of year blends with the surroundings the size of the piece still makes it striking.

First time I really noticed the beauty and ambiguity of barbed wire was during a trip to South Africa in 2008. Most private property there has high walls with barbed wire coils or electric wire on top surrounding it in order to keep uninvited guests out. The South African crime rate is very high, and in many ways the need to secure your property, house and personal safety feels natural. At the same time it made me think a lot about history - not only the South African situation with apartheid, but also in general about nationality, class, segregation, border control and ownership.

When I was asked to participate in Fieldwork it felt natural to make a comment that somehow related to this theme. I also found the shape of the wire itself really interesting: how can something so hostile looking at the same time be so beautiful? The clay part of the piece, the actual barbs, enhances that in a very specific way. Being ceramic and there for fragile they can never actually function in the same way as the object they’re representing. That general idea comes back in shaping of the fence.

My initial idea was to work with the wire in a kind of roll, resembling the fences used at borders and fronts, but with the more commonly used fence the references can apply to a wider area of ideas related to property and land. It was also easier to exaggerate the size of the installation and, again, reinforce the strangeness of the act of fencing in. What can a ten feet high fence, with the lowest strand at five feet, possibly fence in? No matter how much effort is put in to keeping “others” out there will always be some who succeed in entering or passing through.

More will follow!

For more images from the installation process, visit the Winter -09 gallery to the right.

PS. If you have the opportunity to visit the site, please feel free to take with you one of the extra ceramic barbs in the red box. If  you then by any chance happen to cross a border, climb a fence or something similar- please bring the barb, take a photo and email it to me. Thanks!

freedom to roam

fieldwork - henny linn kjellberg's 'freedom to roam' ceramic installation