Not a Single Story

Creative Feel - - EDITOR’S NOTE -

Not a Single Story is Nirox Sculp­ture Park’s Win­ter Sculp­ture Ex­hi­bi­tion for 2018. Hosted from 12 May to 29 July 2018, the ex­hi­bi­tion is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the Nirox Foun­da­tion, South Africa, and its Swedish coun­ter­part, Wanås Konst, the Wanås Foun­da­tion.

The ex­hi­bi­tion is the re­sult of a long­stand­ing part­ner­ship be­tween the two sculp­ture parks, and looks at in­di­vid­ual artis­tic prac­tices as over­lap­ping di­a­logues and it brings for­ward con­tem­po­rary con­cerns and work­ing meth­ods re­lated to sculp­ture.

The re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Nirox Foun­da­tion and Wanås Konst orig­i­nated five years ago, when Wanås Konst asked Nirox to pro­vide a plat­form for re­search­ing the South African arts scene. The pur­pose was to ex­change knowl­edge, and to do more than scratch the sur­face of what was go­ing on, as part of Wanås Konst’s com­mit­ment to work­ing with artists from around the world. One out­come was the ex­hi­bi­tion Bar­ri­ers in Swe­den in 2015, which fea­tured six South African-based artists.

Not a Single Story con­tin­ues this di­a­logue be­tween the two coun­tries, and is about giv­ing space for mul­ti­ple per­spec­tives. ‘Be­ing two venues, we also wanted the project to grow out of col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­forts; be­tween us, the cu­ra­to­rial team that was put to­gether on site, and the artists en­gaged,’ says Elis­a­beth Mil­lqvist. ‘Mak­ing new works with artists in the out­doors, whether in the beech­wood for­est in Swe­den or in the Cra­dle of Hu­mankind, a UNESCO World Her­itage Site, where Nirox is located, the sur­round­ings will in­evitably be an im­por­tant in­flu­ence and it­self a frame­work for the ex­hi­bi­tion. We de­cided to let the works by 25 artists, which show­case con­tem­po­rary is­sues and prac­tices re­lated to sculp­ture, be linked by the site and a con­cep­tual con­cern – that of the story. The story lends it­self to a metaphor and car­ries end­less pos­si­bil­i­ties.’

Mil­lqvist refers to writer Chi­ma­manda Ngozi Adichie’s well-known TED Talk as the ex­hi­bi­tion’s start­ing point and in­spi­ra­tion for the ti­tle, Not a Single Story. Adichie starts her talk with these words: ‘I’m a sto­ry­teller. And I would like to tell you a few per­sonal sto­ries about what I like to call “the dan­ger of the single story”.’ She adds, ‘Sto­ries mat­ter. How they are told, who tells them, when they’re told, how many sto­ries are told, are re­ally de­pen­dent on power.’

Says Mil­lqvist, ‘Re­fer­ring to a venue as a sculp­ture park, and work­ing mainly in the out­doors, ad­dresses an en­tire art his­tor­i­cal canon on sculp­ture in gen­eral and land art in par­tic­u­lar, with earth, rocks, and sand as me­dia and sub­ject mat­ter. This his­tory is a male his­tory. As a re­sponse to a very sin­gu­lar art his­tory, the ma­jor­ity of the artists in the ex­hi­bi­tion are women, rep­re­sent­ing a rich di­ver­sity of per­spec­tives. As a nod to the art experience you get at Wanås, Yoko Ono was in­vited to make “Wish Trees” at Nirox, and the branches of the African olive will now carry writ­ten down wishes in her Wish Trees for Hope, while Mar­i­anne Lind­berg De Geer’s sound archive of voices call­ing “Mamma” will in­trigue and ex­cite; both works are highly associated with Wanås. We also wanted to include works by fore­run­ners along­side less es­tab­lished artists.

‘Other cen­tral el­e­ments of this project, linked to the ex­hi­bi­tion, are work­shops, talks and a com­pre­hen­sive ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram­ming aimed at chil­dren and youth to ex­pand un­der­stand­ing of life and art. This fol­lows a long tra­di­tion at Wanås where ex­plor­ing artists’ meth­ods has been the foun­da­tion of the ex­ten­sive art ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme for 20 years. At Nirox, ped­a­gog­i­cal ideas are par­al­leled and ex­changed. Dis­cussing, de­bat­ing, dream­ing and per­form­ing to­gether, more than 500 par­tic­i­pants will con­trib­ute to the sto­ries told and ques­tions raised in dif­fer­ent ac­tiv­i­ties,’ she says.

Chi­ma­manda Ngozi Adichie con­cludes in her talk: ‘When we re­ject the single story, when we re­alise that there is never a single story about any place, we re­gain a kind of par­adise.’

The Am­bas­sador of Swe­den Ms Ce­cilia Julin

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