Maria Bjurestam - art and projects

The Valand Group, joint projects 1990-93

Maria Bjurestam, Cecilia Darle, Vanja Gyllensköld, Gunilla Hansson, Annika Lundgren, Susanna Nygren, Cecilia E. Parsberg, Marie Sjölander, Elin Wikström.

In the fall of 1990 we, a group of students at the Valand College of Fine Art in Gothenburg, started to meet regulary to discuss. A general interest in the theory of art, literature, philosophy, psychology and for Julia Kristeva's theory of the abject in particular, brought us together as the writings of Kristeva was published in swedish at that time. There was also a need for a context where we could form a theorethical background for our individual artistic practice. During the period the group gathered, (which was not that easy as some of the members from time to time did not live in Gothenburg but in Düsseldorf, Glasgow and Stockholm), we also made different projects together:


An installation/happening which was shown twice; in the Valand student's gallery ROTOR and at the AVE festival of experimental art in Arnheim, Holland in 1991.

The work, which was collectively concieved, consisted of 80 kilo yello-pudding. At the opening, the pudding was unmoulded at a white, fourlegged plinth in the room. Simoultaneously laughter, recorded during the meetings of the group, was playbacked in loudspeakers. Due to its weight, the yellopudding fell apart in a few minutes. It was then left for the rest of the exhibition with the recorded laughters in the room. We noticed that the pudding in spite of the fact that it after a time became mouldy, persisted to smell artificial raspberry.


The 19th Floor

Installation made for the 19th floor in the SKANSKA-building, Gothenburg, 1992.

"-Where would we'd like to make an exhibition? - At the top floor of the SKANSKA-building, ha ha! - Well, why not, let's do it!" The SKANSKA-building was built during the economically over-heated 1980's as a 25-storey office building. At the top was a café, which , after paying a fee, the public was allowed to access. Due to the financial decline in the beginning of the 90's, some of the top floors were still unlet. The group took contact with the SKANSKA company art-club and recieved positive response. We looked at the vacant floors and also made interviews with the people working in the building. It was clear from the beginning that the group wanted to do a collective work again. Discussions commenced around the architectural design and function of the building, (symbolic, economical, practical, sociological), as its meaning for the city, the people working there and people just passing by. The floor was not yet finished, as the tenants should choose equipment, so the walls were bare concrete, the electric and other installations were not hidden, there were no carpet on the floor. This was together with the layout of the rooms and the breathtaking, over-all view of Gothenburg, considered to be the starting-point for the piece. The installation consisted of a blue tent which was lit inside, placed in one of the two rooms. In the other room there was a text written on the wall with white chalk. A soft background sound-track with music taken from 1980's glamour-films was played. The text was an excerpt from the discussions and concerned issues of home and how the sense of belonging might have changed when returning to an apartment one once had lived in.

The 19th Floor


Mölndals Kunsthalle, 1992.

After the two former collective works, the group wanted to try to show individual works together. An invitation from the Mölndal Kunsthalle made it possible. It was important that there would be no given theme, no collective statement or manifesto.

Be Connected-Artists Showing Artists.

RIX Kunsthalle, Linköping 1993.

This project investigated the artist as curator. Four members of the Valand group; Maria Bjurestam, Annika Lundgren, Cecilia Parsberg and Elin Wikström invited a number of artists to exhibit, but did not show any works themselves. The artists engaged to be present during the hanging of the exhibition, when also a two day-seminar was held, discussing among other issues the artist/curator roles, how artists could independently work to realize and finance their ideas and projects, the artist/curator responsibility for artworks etc. The day after the opening a public discussion was held. The discussions were recorded and published as a catalogue after the exhibition. Artists in the exhibition: Karin Andersson, Lotta Antonsson, Lars Ola Bergkvist, Anna Brag, Leif Elggren, Peter Hagdahl, CM von Hausswolff, Bengt Olof Johansson, Erik Pauser, Johan Sunesson. After this last project the activity of the group ceased. There was no need to continue working together as before, and no one wanted the group to transform into a kind of "institution". We also finished the school in different years. The members still have contact with each other, though living in different cities and countries. We all regard these years as crucial to our individual development and have in different ways involved the experiences we made into our individual work.