22 years on, the clip of Stina Nordenstam singing One For My Baby in the Swedish Parliament following the opening speech from our dear king seems like one of the oddest creations that ever found its way onto Youtube. But it’s also one of those rare moments of proof that Youtube actually makes the world a better place.
But she’s a hard act to follow, and we can probably be grateful that the clip doesn’t stick around to hear how the university professor gets on with the crowd while giving his thesis on ”the return of the big constitutional questions”. What we do know is that Stina herself followed this by creating unique music; for example the And She Closed Her Eyes album that ended up in first place when music magazine Sonic ranked the best Swedish albums of all time.
This fall, we finally get to hear something by Stina again. This time, it’s the sound installation Tänk dig en människa at Magasin 3, where you can sit in a room and listen for 30 minutes as a boy guides us through different stories. Along the way we get to hear of specific moments of decisive importance, where fact and fiction blend – something that is central to Stina’s artistry.
To go along with the installation there is a trialogue on the Magasin 3 website between curators Richard Julin and Tessa Praun and Stina where the subconscious is one of the subjects discussed.
“Since the subconscious has such a great importance for us, it’s very rewarding when you circle things. Almost everything of interest exists in the subconscious, Stina says before stating she must sound autistic and then adding she actually is.
“They have given me the diagnosis ‘autistic spectrum syndrome’, if a diagnosis meant anything to any extent”.
Richard: Is that prevalent in Tänk Dig En Människa? I suppose it must be, since it’s a part of you. But when you listen to it today, can you hear aspects of that and the subconscious?
Stina: Aspects of the subconscious can be found of course, but do you mean specifically the autistic spectrum thing, and the autonomous state?
R: Yeah I’m wondering, because then I could possibly understand more of what it is.
S: Literally it means ”that you don’t need anything from your fellow creatures and the world around you”.
R: The word paradox comes up again and again here. You have always created things and sent it out to the world.
S: There are two sides to me, I’m super-sociable, yet autistic.
R: It sounds extreme.
S: But I AM extreme. Either in one direction or the other.
R: Does that come across in your work? For example, in music or in art like Tänk Dig En Människa, do these extremes meet or do they go one way or the other?
S: There’s a large element in my creations that is autonomous. That is completely uninterested in the recipient and deals with some kind of inner research that unfortunately is extremely interesting.
R: Why do you say unfortunately? If you feel good about creating in that way, then that’s great?
S: I don’t think I can do it any other way. I don’t have a choice, you are who you are. But at the same time I’m very outgoing, and it’s hard to reach a balance.They are all good qualities, but hard to blend. I’m happy to have this outlet for my creativity, of course.
Tessa: It’s fascinating how you do not consider the recipient, or listener, and how you still can create something that can move people so to such an incredible degree.
S: I think that’s kind of symptomatic.
T: And that, again, triggers the subconscious of other people. You create from your subconscious, you encapsulate yourself and don’t take the listener into account, but still influence them.
S: It makes it more raw. It’s not treated by the consciousness, and since I make it somewhat subconsciously I don’t have a clear idea. When I present the work it hasn’t gone through consciousness, social awareness or thoughts about how it will be received.
It becomes more direct – from one sub-consciousness to the next, in an unprocessed way. And even if you perceive it differently it doesn’t matter. I can never think about how things could be perceived. When I work with something I have absolute pitch of how things should be.
But then there’s always the possibility of something turning out wrong somewhere else, but that would never be taken into account. For every creative project…. That trial-and-error thinking and the obvious intuitive choices are always there. And there’s no room for any social way of thinking.
But I suppose that’s ok as long as you find other channels for the social side of yourself. But in this piece, there was obviously a social element in the contact I had with those I spoke too, although what was most interesting to me was the dividing line between the documentary and the fictitious. That was a focal point and there’s several reasons for that. For example, something documentary is never 100 per cent documentary and the fictitious can at times be even more ”correct”, so to speak.
Tänk dig en människa is on display (in Swedish) at Magasin 3 from September 13.