The exhibition Tankegångar ends with the poet Helena Eriksson reading from her recent bookwork about Unica Zürn and Hans Bellmer. This presentation is about Nora Berta Unique Ruth Zürn and I’ll give a little background as to why it should be about her.
There are different strategies to use when everything meddles into a mess not possible to sort out. You think good when walking long distances. So that is what I do metaphorically.
I follow tracks.
To follow tracks resembles a detectives work or a scientists methods of research, it may also be a bit like putting a puzzle into full image. The search can start on what grounds whatsoever: arbitrary, random, science, romance, political, economicly, autocratic or perhaps I just start my search out of curiosity.
My search in Thomas Bernhard’s tracks starts in his literature. I start with trying to find out what I understand as important to him in his life and works, and that in his writing.
My tracing is enabled by curiosity and thirst for knowledge, I want to see the context and hopefully by that find my own order in searching. Thomas Bernhard’s choice and thinking interests me: he comes back to the choice of ”going in the opposite direction”. His lengthy narrative and his repetitive way of writing, his obstinacy and his awkward humor, his categorical statements. To follow his writings has brought me in different directions and it is also demonstrated significant sources and what he has chosen to exclude: Among a multitude of men Bernhard mentions only two women. That influences me.
After following Thomas Bernhard through his books by close readings and by following in his footsteps by travelling to Rome and Vienna and then through alp-landscapes in Austria, I tracked on to the two writing women who Bernhard mentions and is influenced of: Ingeborg Bachmann and her writing, ( I followed her to Rome and to Klagenfurt), and Virginia Woolf and her novels (these texts brought me to England and to walking in London). After Bachmann and Woolf I add a number of women, one to mention is Marquerite Duras.
Unica Zürn is one other private track that I added to the Evil’s library. Bernhard did not mention her or Hans Bellmer as far as I’ve seen. The acquaintance with Unica Zürns art and her poetry started for me in Paris in 2006 with a retrospective exhibition at the Halle Saint Pierre in Montmartre, an exhibition Helena Ericsson talks and writes about. Earlier, when I went to the College of Arts 75-80 I had heard Unica Zürn mentioned when Hans Bellmers art was presented, his puppet and his photographs. UZ was mentioned as Bellmers woman, his associate and muse. But Unica Zürn was active as a writer and she made art before she met Hans Bellmer. Her unholy ink drawings and her twisting and reversal way of using words and anagrams building with letters and shifting the meanings caused me to reconnect with my own work with words, symbols, drawings and designs as I used to work in the 80’s and 90’s, before I was hit by the great self-criticism and . I look at Unica Zürns work, the energy of it and her work strikes me as if it was absolutely necessary for her to get it done. Unica Zürns complex relationship with the outside world and to Hans Bellmer clarifies experiences that is important in Library of the Evil Spirit. The mobile library as Bernhard describes and mentions as a selection of books that are important, necessary, to bring wherever you are and wherever you are going in life. I continue to add my contributions to the choises made by Thomas Bernhard, I build my own Library of the Evil Spirit.
When the exhibition Tankgångar ends Unica Zürn is in focus.
Helena Eriksson was invited to the exhibition Library of the Evil Spirit at Kunsthall Trondheim at the start of 2014, where I first presented the library and the tracking during a residency in Trondheim. In Trondheim Helena talked primarily about Unica Zürns work with anagrams and read from texts by her.
In Trollhättan Helena Eriksson presents a book she has worked on for many years: Someone sews, is that you? It is a book with texts about Unica Zürn and Hans Bellmer, about their life together and their work.
The title is cut from a quote by Henri Michaux: ”Someone rolls, coming to rest, someone sew, it’s you, Lorrelou?”
The title is also a work by Unica Zürn: a red spinning wrapped in white tape or white thread. ”Quelqu’un coud, est-ce toi? ”
Sewing is a practical experience, a craft. It is the hands working together with the thoughts combined with technical solutions, decisions and designs during the work.
I return to writing, to books, i make my own artist books.
Everything can spin together and it can sometimes be sorted out.
Everything can be decomposed and joined in various ways, sometimes in new ways.
Everything can swop places, sometimes leading to a new meaning.
Everything is not rational and logical.
Finally, I quote from Helena Eriksson’s afterword in another recent book, in which she has translated texts of Unica Zürn, ”Vacation at Maison Blanche and other texts”:
About Unica Zürn: ”As it is told before, she is drawn to madness and to suicide. […] Is it possible for her to tell about her life in a timeline? She does not believe that. Involuntarily the present and the past are mixed when considering the personal existence. What is the meaning of life? Her answer to this question is: ‘To leave traces.’ ”