Preference of Interpretation

TOLKNINGSFÖRETRÄDE/ Preference of Interpretation. Commissioned artwork in Hallen, Åre community, Jämtland, Sweden. About storytelling, origination, migration.

kartlav ‎57 short texts

My father Oscar West was born in Åhn, Hallen, Åre  October 11, 1915. Hundred years later, 2015,  I am invited to take part in an artproject, a commissioned work in Jämtland and I am placed in Hallen. I return to Hallen and I want to investigate the meaning of origination. My father left Jämtland as a young man to get work, I grew up in a part of the country that was not my (nor my parents) place of origination. My hometown was not ”home”. When visiting Jämtland I was from out there, I was a stranger. To get to know people in Hallen and to get to know the place I begin with crafting, to knot a rug in rya together with people in the village. I plan walks in the mountains, in the surroundings of Hallen. I invite people to join and ask them to tell their stories. We perform walks. I search for my fathers family’s stories. I listen to stories. I collect stories. I write new stories from what I hear and from what I percieve.


Soon I get to know many stories about a historically interesting rug found in Hallen: The Marby Rug originating from Anatolia (the area around what is now known as Turkey) and dated from 1300-1400. Probably the rug was carried to Hallen by pilgrimers on the way to Trondheim and Nidarosdomen and probably this rug is so uniquely well kept because it was placed in a cold and dark church, used as an altar-textile in the Marby Church in Hallen. In Hallen different stories are still told about this rug’s origination and about ownership, about how Stockholm stole it from Jämtland and ideas like: maybe it’s not at all a rug from Anatolia but handicraft work from the sami-people. And so on. During time history is written in different versions, artifacts have been moved, sometimes stolen, from countries and areas in the name of power and rules, artifacts are distributed to rich countries, sold and invested in. Important artwork can be found in many museums and collections far from were they existed originally. Since 1925 the Marby rug is a part of the collection at The Historical Museum in Stockholm. The rug was bought 1925 from the village and the church. The money for the rug made it possible to buy a new organ for the new church. One family the Hallen-area claim the ownership of the Marby rug. This family have produced 15-20 copies of the rug in rya, so that each member of the family owns a Marby rug. How the rug arrived to Hallen in the first place is a mystery. Probably it was transported by pilgrimers to be a gift to churchmen of Nidarosdomen in Trondheim. For the presentation I succeded to borrow two of these ryaknotted copies of the Marby rug from this family, made 1971 and 1973. I also borrowed one copy made in Istanbul, handknotted 1980, ordered by the arthistorian Karin Ådahl who have studied the history of this rug.


During the work in Hallen I have been reading Lucy Lippards book The Lure of the Local.

This is a project about origination, culture on the move, preference of interpretation, storytelling, land and ownership. The stories, mappings, walks and rugs may altogether become a book. 57 texts so far.  Below I present pictures from the project presentation at Storsjöteatern in Östersund Sep 11-12, 2015, of the original Marby rug, the copy made in Istanbul, the Hallen 2015 knotted in rya together with people in Hallen. Two copies of Marby rug in rya made by Ingeborg Hemmingsson and Eva Hemmingsson.





Below: Information about Marbymattan, from Historiska Museet website