Sweden: Negotiating land use in between birds and human, Göteborg and Koster islands

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. 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 2021 and development of the art works in summer 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.

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?

Participants in Negotiating Landuse

Ulrika Jansson (SE)


Ulrika Jansson is a Swedish artist, educator and curator based in Göteborg. In her site-specific practice she inquires how we, by engaging with stories, history, values, materials and ecology at specific locations, can gain an insight into interconnections between other creatures, people, places and times.


Her public art works often engage with and accommodate birds, bats and solitary bees. She engages in and initiates interdisciplinary collaborative art projects exploring socio-ecological relationships, such as in Cultural Adaptations, a Creative Europe project led by Creative Carbon Scotland 2019-2021. She has taught and lectured at institutions including Konstfack, Uniarts Helsinki Academy of Fine Arts and Stockholm Culture Council.

Christoph Matt (AUT)

Communication designer

Christoph Matt is an art director, communication designer, and illustrator born in the mountains and shaped by the Austrian Alps ever since. Christoph is the founder of the Studio Matt, a base camp for environmentally and socially conscious design and ideas currently set up in Gothenburg, Sweden. Inspired by adventures, explorations, and translations in the great outdoors and its vast ecosystems. Keeping a wary eye on the blue planet while working with humans and nature in various parts of the world. Constantly facing emerging issues with rock-solid rucksack principles, more-than-human focus, progressive design practices, and embracing a positive failure culture.


Gylleboverket: Etta Säfve & Jona Elfdahl (SE)

Performance, video & installation artists

Gylleboverket’s investigations take shape as ritual being, performance, text, sound & video. In The Conference of the Birds, their work is based on questions about place and space, what space we as humans take and what we leave to others. The work is based on deep ecology, where the human being is deeply rooted in and part of the complex web of symbiosis and relationships that we call nature.


We have asked ourselves how we humans have been able to separate ourselves from and push nature out of our lives. And how we have thereby driven predation on the world and displaced other species.

Gylleboverket works in the project with a series of cinematic rituals to leave space for nature on the Koster Islands together with the local population. To set oneself aside to make room for the elusive, for the wild and the repressed.
With a number of residents at Koster, we have, among other things, moved backwards over the pebble ridges of the Nordkoster island. With our work, we have looked for a gap in our presence, an out-of-body emptiness that broadens the space for the world.

Gylleboverket is both an artist group and a platform for contemporary performing arts, art, film and culture based in an old industrial building in the countryside on Österlen in Skåne. Gylleboverket is run by the artists Jona Elfdahl and Etta Säfve.

As an artist group, they work with performance, installations, video works, sound, rites and social sculptures. They also work actively with permaculture – sustainable systems for the earth and humans, including forest gardens, sustainable cultivation techniques and social projects often in collaboration with other artists.

They work site-specifically and cross-border with built-up worlds, often of natural materials, myths, rites and stage installations Through the artistic process, the potential of the poetic to raise contemporary issues is explored. Gylleboverket’s work process is exploratory, longer processes where thematic issues are intertwined. Collaborations, public meetings, analysis of the world around us and themes such as human isolation, normality, our relationship to the world around us and each other are examined in visual and poetic works.