Negotiating land use in between birds and humans, Koster Islands, Göteborg and Garsnäs, Sweden

The Swedish Nest is working with the theme of territory/space and the negotiation of land use between birds and humans, with a focus on the city in Göteborg/Frihamnen and on the rural/coastal perspective in Koster islands and in Gärsnäs, Skåne. The Nest will make space for a discussion of the relation between the urban and the rural and open up for exchange of obstacles and solutions to the problem of habitat loss in the different contexts. The Nest will start out with guided walks with invited artists, scientists and local practitioners in Göteborg and Koster islands in early summer 2021 and continue with focused working periods for the artists in Göteborg and Koster in late summer/autumn 2021 and development of the art works in winter/spring 2022. There will be local public presentations in the Göteborg and Koster islands, such as small exhibitions and seminars during 2022.

In Göteborg the focus is the former industrial harbour, Frihamnen, where a new residential area is being built. The starting point is the question of how a new district can be developed with a bird’s eye perspective. 

How can we talk about, and with, birds about their needs in the city and how can an acceptance be created for humans and decision makers to create habitats that also benefit other species? In summer and autumn 2021, a series of performative walks for an interactive public will happen outdoors in the Frihamnen in Gothenburg with the aim of improving the understanding of place and the situation of the birds. 

Artist and arts educator Ulrika Jansson, have curated the guided walk as an artistic experience where invited guests will give micro-lectures, do artistic interventions and engage the audience in workshops. The walks have one theme each with three specific guests per walk. Invited guests so far is Jan Uddén, ornithologist from Bohusläns museum, Martin Allik, landscape architect with a focus on birds from Mareld landscape architects who develop the park in Frihamnen, Annika Lindberg architect, Chris Matt designer and Ludvig Borén, designer. Annika Lindberg will show her project about building a pavilion “Villa Bråte – a common meeting place designed by the black red-tailed start”. Chris Matt has created B.I.R.D. – Bird Information Reflection Dialogue Space Toolkit, a physical graphic dialogue format to increase awareness of the birds at the site of the participants in the guided walk. 

The purpose of the walks is partly to find methods for how we can engage in conversations about, and with, birds about their needs in the city and how we can create new habitats in the city that also benefit other species in addition to humans. Secondly, we want to create collaborations and knowledge to develop and build a number of artistic semi-permanent structures in 2022 that would improve the situation for the birds on the site. The structures will be modular and built on temporary sites during construction phases in cities. The methods from the walks and structures will then be shown digitally and in exhibitions within The Conference of the Birds, and with the project also spread to the Nordic countries and Russia. The hope is that ideas and knowledge from the project in Frihamnen can lead to a change in all the Nordic countries in how we relate to the birds of our cities as our neighbours.

In Koster Islands and in Gärsnäs in Skåne, the artist collective Gylleboverket, aka Etta Säfve and Jona Elfdahl, will work with the rural perspective of birds in agricultural and fishing systems. In Koster Islands the Nest will be hosted by the permaculture farm and public meeting place Kosters trädgårdar (Gardens) and the non-profit association Koster Sculpture garden. Kosters trädgårdar is a farm and restaurant based on permaculture, a way of farming that uses less land for human food production, leaving more space for wildlife. This is a big contrast to contemporary large-scale farming where birds are often seen as interfering with the crops. In Gärsnäs in Skåne, Gylleboverket will draw a comparison to the relation to birds in the surrounding monocultural agriculture landscapes. Gylleboverket is both an experimental art collective and a rural permaculture farmstead, situated within a monoculture, agricultural area where a large quantity of Swedish crops are grown. 

The Koster/Gärsnäs part of the Nest raises questions of how agricultural/fishing practices can maintain healthy populations of birds as neighbours and what we can learn from history in terms of learning from birds instead of competing with them. 

The work will start in June 2021 with a meeting and a guided walk around Koster Island, looking at the island from a bird eye perspective together with local stakeholders and ornithologists Jan Uddén, Bohusläns museum. During the summer Gylleboverket will continue their work in relation to the agricultural landscape in Gärsnäs, Skåne where they live and return to Koster islands in September for a second working period. Their art work will then be developed during autumn 2021 and spring 2022.

The three artists working in the Swedish Nest are Etta Säfve and Jona Elfdahl, who also run Gylleboverket, and Ulrika Jansson.

The Nest is curated by Ulrika Jansson.

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