The Year 2017
A Collective Chronicle of Thoughts and Observations
Welcome to what is going to be a collective chronicle of the year 2017! This journal will follow the general change that we experience in our daily lives, in our cities, countries and beyond, in the political discourses and in our reflections on the role of artists and intellectuals. Originating from several talks and discussions with fellow artists and thinkers FFT feels the strong need to share thoughts and feelings about how we witness what is going on in the world. Week after week different writers, artists, thinkers and scientists will take the role of an observer as they contribute to this collective diary.
#15 April, 10th - 16th
Iggy Lond Malmborg
I’m in my flat in Malmö, I have been here for 7 days now. I have been (or I am) sick, which means that I spent most of the week inside. Outside it’s sunny but windy, it’s always windy here, in Malmö.
It’s not only that the city is located by the coast, it’s worse; it seems as if it’s built in a way that there is a constant cross draft, as if the wind enters from the sea but there is no way for it to exit, it just moves around and more wind ceaselessly added. My partner Maike gets a headache as soon as she arrives here, but I’m used to it.
The description of the chronicle reads “[…] FFT feels the strong need to share thoughts and feelings about how we witness what is going on in the world.” That sentence, or rather the whole description, seems to imply that we are living in a dark era and I guess that is true.
We are for sure witnessing a certain political paradigmatic shift and our aesthetic strategies should also change accordingly. It makes me think of the famous Brecht quote: “What kind of times are these, when to talk about trees is almost a crime because it implies silence about so many horrors.”
But is that still true? Maybe today the only reasonable thing would be to talk about trees and let the silence speak loudly, as a form of resistance or maybe as a form of grief.
Should we remain silent? As speaking, staging, posting the appropriate statements seems to be an act of self-design rather than anything else. There seems to be more to gain from criticizing than from silence.
Or should we protest, loudly; Find clear striking ways of saying Fuck you. We refuse, We won’t, Never. Define the most elaborate, radical and dangerous way of saying NO and then shout it?
Or should we rather, as Fassbinder suggests, realize that every form of protest carries the poison of what it intends to subvert and start with stabbing ourselves in the back?
Or should we spend our time understanding and analyzing the chain of events, the changing system of interactions between states, innovations, capital, traumas etc. that brought us here. Look at it as a fungus-structure, zoom out and get an overview over the whole network and then strike?
Or analyze the world (the west and east together) as a form of consciousness, with unconscious drives and desires?
Or withdraw into the forest or the black box and build alternatives, cozy around with form-experiments?
Or should we just hibernate?
I’m smoking in my window, I’m allowed to do that because it’s my flat and I am a grown up.
It’s so windy that most of the smoke and ashes flies straight into the room again and I’m realizing that it was most likely a mistake to address all the questions above to an abstract us. The we that I'm talking about is the one who has access to a blog like this one, i.e. that knows how to find its way here. But it is obviously myself that I am asking. I won’t formulate questions like that again, but leave these unedited.
Brecht put those words next to each other before individualism really hit and the neoliberal metaphysics turned into an omnipresent truth and that’s why his quote ain’t applicable anymore.
I was struck by fever this Thursday, which I think is as it should be. I arrived here in Malmö from Tallinn where I premiered and played a few shows of a new solo entitled Physics and Phantasma. A work which started slowly a year ago, that has kept me sleepless since August and that I have spent all my time with since December. Up until the very end, the process was pure hell, the worst I had so far. The last three weeks before the premiere were wonderful, filled with beautiful people in the team and now I guess I deserve some fever wrapping it up.
I was planning to have the week off, but Physics and Phantasma has been reduced to piles of receipts that have to be organized; put on in correct order with correct notes, sent away. Over the last months I have also, completely neglected the administration an adult life requires: Bills have to be payed, phone calls have to be made etc.
A few hours after the fever - which was the kind that one gram of paracetamol won’t ease - struck my body a truck struck Drottninggatan in Stockholm, ramming shoppers down, killing and injuring a lot of people.
At 3 o’clock I had a newsflash on my phone. I open the computer and started following the news livestream, following how the details about the event were put together in real time.
As I got tired of one stream I switched to another, soon switching back and forth between three different TV networks. They were all reporting the same thing: that it was an attack, an assumed terror attack, that people are advised to stay away from Stockholm city, the suspect is missing and they were all reporting about shootings at Fridhemsplan and Åhlens (which later was proven to be rumours) and the body counting. The exact number of dead and injured. The poet and my dear friend Johan thinks that media has a perverted interest in body counting, that the the phrase “the amount of dead is still rising” makes them horny. At some point I realized that the streams were going on simultaneously without me having noticed it. I usually get noxious from hearing two artificial sounds at once, if two songs are played in two different rooms and I'm in the middle. The worst is to enter a snack bar where music and the TV is being played at the same time, that gives me eczema.
But in the news feeds I didn't even pay attention to it. It seemed like all the news anchors had the exact same intonation, emphasising on the same words. They were rendered into a choir. Not with a plaintive tone, rather with the monotonous, dry one that Swedish news anchors have been refining for years.
A muffled chatter over the moving images of fleeing people in the streets of Stockholm. And the constant noise of sirens, together forming a high pitch tone. Like an alarm.
That about that.
Now I will repack my suitcase (which I never unpack these days).
I’m in Tallinn. My son Leo is with me. We are here to see Maike (whom I’m usually calling another name) and her son Lukas. We are here on holiday. I adore this city. I have been coming here regularly for five years, more or less every second week. Because of love.
Since some years ago I'm closely related to a theatre here, Kanuti Gildi SAAL, since then this is also my work base.
Leo has a one week easter break from school and we are here to celebrate that. Easter, or that he has a break from school. He is brought up atheist. Me too, except the chronic spiritual excesses that comes with the la-vie-boheme package I was born into. I was weak for spiritualism as a child, but after spending a couple of my teenage years in a Marxist-Leninist party, that was pulled out of me and today I am an atheist.
In periods I’m having death anxiety, which I understand fully as a side effect of my secularism. Even atheist fundamentalists like Richard Dawkins can’t get around that. He says death is a failure in nature.
It’s a friendly spring outside. Cold and sunny. I had a walk with Leo and we talked about Life, a movie we saw this weekend. We were trying to read it.
“Why do you think one wants to tell such a story?”, I asked.
“What do you mean?”
“What was its message?”
“That there might be life on mars and that that life can be dangerous.”
Then I tried to explain that an alien in a movie might be more than an alien, it can be read as a stand in for something else. The movie might have a moral that traverse the narrative.
“What if,” I said, “they are trying to say that there are different races on our planet too and that they should not be mixed. That such mixing produces violence and is dangerous?”
“You mean that it’s a racist movie?”
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I think the ones making the movie just want to entertain. But if there would be a message, I think yours is wrong.”
Then we kept on talking and found a nice reading together.
The story is set on ISS, a group of scientists are there to make research on samples from Mars. They find a cell which has been frozen for millenniums, eons, which they manage to bring to life. It grows and turns into an octopus-like creature which is super strong and can squeeze the crew members to death and crawl into their bodies through their mouth. It has to do so in order to survive. Everybody dies and in the rather dark end the creature, called Calvin, manages to fly down to earth, being inside and all over Jake Gyllenhaals body (who wouldn’t want to be that?).
We decided to read it as a critique of science. That one should be curious but that scientific achievements are not good per se.
I actually felt silly, speaking about drama like that. About representation, mythos and metaphors. Rick Gervais has a good bit on that. Saying that the only moral he can read out from Humpty Dumpty1 is “don’t sit on a wall if you are an egg”.
Ricky Gervais and his mate Richard Dawkins (or especially the latter) represent the kind of atheism which I totally despise.
The interesting thing with atheism is that it is based on salvation. It has a drive to take over world power, people as Dawkins are knights on a holy crusade. In here lies the problematic core of humanism. Maike and I did a piece dedicated to this entitled 99 Words for Void. Starting from the fundamental humanist statement “You can say whatever you want”, claiming that the immanent truth of that saying is “you can say whatever you want, as long as you say you can say whatever you want.”
That is the beginning and end of the humanist project.
1 Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall, Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men couldn't put Humpty together again.
At Ristiku Kohvik, a café close to Maikes flat which is my second home. I’m having a cappuccino and Kirill, a Russian artist who lives here, will join me in half an hour. At that point I will have finished my coffee and I don’t think I can have another one without getting noxious, so I will have to move over to white wine. I have understood that one should avoid fermented products when having an infection - like my current flue, but what should I do? Have a milkshake? I’m not much of a tea drinker. The flue is still there, no fever but my snot is getting yellow. More and more yellow every day.
Me and Leo went to Kumu, the art museum of Estonia today. To look at the Soviet realisms billowy fields. I found this text about the intelligentsia during the Stalin era. A plain message, as if they knew both how to talk the talk and walk the walk.
On Monday I wrote that saying, staging or posting the good is far more an act of self design. Which is true. But further, to me it seems as if all means of resistance, available for the middle class, avoid actual risk. Risk to the body. Is a body-less-protest ever a protest?
Those are real bodies drowning. Not symbolic, not imaginary.
Real bodies breathing the gas.
Those are real bodies that sew my clothes. It’s real bodies standing by the borders, real bodies being locked up in camps, being put on the planes. It’s bodies being torn into pieces, cut up, slaughtered, stamped down, humiliated, burned.
It’s bodies cleaning the floor and picking the coffee beans. Bodies serving me my cappuccino. Bodies not getting that minimum wage. Bodies living in the outskirts of the city, bodies being constant victims of suspicion. Bodies being shot down. Bodies being diagnosed. Bodies on the streets, begging bodies.
Bodies looking at the screens, not leaving the room, growing, bodies being fat.
Bodies that will stand by that fucking wall. It’s bodies removing the excrement from other bodies. It’s bodies, masses of bodies. And how is a body-less protest even a protest? How can it be efficient?
If not our own bodies, maybe a way to protest is to find responsible bodies and putting them at a state of risk…
But how is such a protest being structured, how does such a protest look?
I have no idea. Obviously I’m not currently engaged in it. Maybe as a result of being engaged and disappointed. What would the alternative to the current forms of resistance be? I don’t know that either. I remain buying the products, remain passive. Remain being the actual problem.
I do know that if not the bodies, then we at least have to put our privileges at risk.
And engaging in forms of protest that in the long run secure or even higher our own privileges (designing an identity based on being the good) is contra-productive.
Now he arrived and I’ll order a Riesling.
In his text Testo Junkie, Preciado suggests that we are all victims of a regime that establishes gender borders not only on a social but also a biological level. The most effective way to engage in the war between the sexes /the war against gender has to be through biology. To take the production means back into our hands, on a hormonal level. As a form of bio terrorism.
It is the most radical and probably best suggestion I can think of.
He is developing the thought by using testosterone as a drug, the text is brought (mainly) in an essayistic diary form where he makes theoretical reflections along with reflections on his own bodily change. What he calls the auto-guinea pig method. It results in the best theoretical text I have ever read. And probably the best method to develop both thought and aesthetics.
If some of the main reasons for oppression and exploitation today lays in fundamental somatic fictions (gender and race) that have material (economic) results, the way to attack them should probably be through somatic resistance. Fighting gender should happen by fucking up the hormonal code. Antiracist activity could start with abandoning homoracial parenthood.
To get a child as two white people could in that sense be seen as a reactionary act.
My own chalk-white child is 12 years old now. When I was 12 I bought a grindcore compilation album that included 2 songs by the British Band Napalm Death.
I loved it and when the next monthly 15€ arrived I immediately bought two more records. I haven’t listened much to them since then, but tonight they are playing a concert in Tallinn and me and Maike are going. I can’t wait.
I wanted to write something today about the week being along figuring out the schedule about the two kids. This week I’m mainly a parent. Something about what scheduling does to relationships and so on. Then about parenthood, holidays - how I am bad at having holidays. One or a few days is fine. But more than that brings me restlessness, anxiety about not knowing what I'm doing. The thing with ‘who I am’ without doing something makes me mad. Then I wanted to go on with writing about the good Friday, how we would go spend some hours in the Russian Orthodox church (the onion church). - I was here working with another solo piece in 2014 and started walking to the Onion church and check out their masses. It's not about the divineness, the religion, but how the masses are organised, dramaturgically produced. There are no benches. People stand all over one part of the room. Sometimes hours, slightly bent forward. They do the sign of the crosses, seemingly how they are feeling, responding to the priests chanting a precise moment (to a specific saint) that they (the listeners) want to accent. Sometimes they bring up small candles that they light in front of one of the icons around them. I hear a word in Russian, for me a purely phonetic sound, noises that are coming from a throat to others, then one of the listeners does a sign, saying something, lighting a candle. It’s like seeing language, word and action, at its purest level. The mass is somehow anarchist, the priests is there to push the ritual further, though it seems like the mass is between the assemblers and god. The room is split by half with one golden wall, holding different icons. Out of the golden wall different priests come, starting to chant. There are no common amen. But behind, above the assembly - so that one cannot see them - there is a balcony with a choir, suddenly they chant a few words back or sing a psalm. The first time I was there and heard them I understood that that could have been an aesthetic of something sublime. I have been wanting to understand the whole structure and sooner or later build a piece based on that.
The thing with me being unable to hold on to religion (as I mentioned on Tuesday), Christianity most of all, is the sign upwards. The father being above. I cannot understand it. But sometimes there, in the church I get rather moved by all these people. Not because of their religion, but their intense power of belief. Ah. enough. - I wanted to show Leo that one. Going there with him and Luka.
Anyhow. Yesterday we went to this Napalm Death concert, which was completely brilliant, but for some reason I decided to have a shot of vodka. Vodka turns me into what one could call Satan and makes me want to provoke others. Finding huge macho boys and coming towards them with gay flintiness. Yesterday I did and I ended up in a fight for the first time since I was 15 years old. Fight… I was beaten up. I can’t remember anything because of the grand finale it had, but a few friends who helped me told me today. I ended up being thrown down the stairs. I have a sort of head concussion, dizzy, noxious and it has hit on my speech somewhat. I have a hard time thinking of words. Adverbs mainly, but all kinds of words. I start a sentence in a certain tense, but having to start over trying to make the right orders correct. It’s disturbing. Today I can’t go to the church and doing all the things as I planned and write about what it could give. I try to keep vomiting out and go to cinema. That should be ok.
I had fever in my sleep. I was falling asleep, waking, falling asleep back and forth.
Sweating, freezing and Maike told me that I was way too hot. Pill, dizziness, and headache.
The others woke up before me, I got up with them for a while then I had to go back to sleep. Slept some more. I was up sometimes but my speech didn’t get better. Luka has a football tournament, Maike takes Leo with her and walks Luka to the bus. They are going to shop on the way and he is away for a while. In bed I fall back and forth to sleep, but I have no fever. The speech is not back and I start to get worried. I call the Swedish nurse-hotline and they say that I have to go to the hospital immediately. Maike and Leo return, they have sea buckthorn juice and we go to the hospital straight away. We end up in the green - the green that hospitals have, In Camus The Plague the hospital in the end has the same kind of green hallways. How long has the institution been painted like that? - Waiting room. Leo is sitting with his iPad and is patient. Maike has dropped her work and keeps me and Leo in a good mood. We talk about all kinds of things and realize that it is good to be here and to see if there is some kind of concussion. The doctor has worried but friendly eyes and sends me to CT scan. Everything is crazy fast to me. I’m lying on one of those plastic plate beds and being sent in to a circle thing that can look into my brain. Then we are back waiting for a long time. Suddenly the man with the eyes comes back and picks me and Maike up into his room. Leo waits outside, all the time. The doc wants to take some blood samples. I ask if they found something and he said (translated by Maike) that they have found something, he needs blood samples and will send me to the neurology. It’s getting late, Maike has to do stuff, she has a rehearsal at 7 and it’s getting 5:30. I tell her that she can leave now and she says hell-no. Leo is calm. An iPad and a book, but worried about me. I’m starting to be as well, Maike too. I keep to try calm in front of Leo, but tell Maike. What if I have a permanent brain damage?
She hides her worry from me, holds my head and kisses my cheek. She calls me her lover-name, keeps me and Leo calm.
“If so, I have nothing in my work left”, I say.
“One can always learn new things.” And she makes me laugh.
The neurologist comes to pick us up. We are brought into a huge room where there are plenty of emergency patients with different kinds of injuries, but they have all come by ambulance. We are brought to a corner that is separated with drapes. I have not been to one of those before, but seen them on TV, Grey’s Anatomy probably. She looks into my eyes, and makes me move my joints and touch my own nose. I can do that. Then she starts to speak.
“You have a concussion, but there is more. We have found some bleeding, a cerebral contusion, on the left side. That is where the speaking is located.”
She has her elbows pressed through her body whilst she is speaking which results in her doctor coat is folded into a tiny V above her right arm pit, I lock my eyes on that. From the left line there is another folding-line running completely straight over her chest, no matter the slit of buttons in the coat, over to her other side, to her chest pocket where she has a name tag. She is speaking in Estonian now. If one would follow the lines of her name tag and the lines of the V in her right arm pit, straight above her, one could form a completely symmetric pattern in here. Above us there is a metal frame holding the drapes, that frame could help producing depth in the patterns. One could follow it and produce new ones for this 1.5 x 3m space that we’re in.
She says that resting will bring most of it back. Then she recommends rehabilitation with a speech therapist. It’s going to be completely recovered. Maike says that I’m an actor, the doctor says that I should start rehabilitation as soon as possible. We talk a bit about the work that I have next week, she says that I shouldn’t do it. I need to rest and will not perform as good as I want to.
“Footballers with a bad knee don’t play, you should not do it either.”
She keeps on by saying something about me having mood waves for a while now and sends me to another CT scan for the neck. She is professional and friendly, everyone is.
We do a few more things and the reception lady scold me for not having my blue EU citizenship card, I would have payed 5€ with it. Now I have to pay 250€. In our form of international work one should think of these things, as we are spending more time abroad than at home. I never learn anything.
In the cab on the way home I say: “What a weird easter evening” to Leo and he says: “Don’t worry.”
It’s 8 pm when we come home. Maike goes to the rehearsal one hour to late. I bring Leo up to the flat where Luka is waiting. When we arrived there, I walk to Kolde Pood to buy candy. When walking I'm listening to a podcast, then music, then I turn it off. I can’t take it. There is spring and a lot of birds.
When home I call to an Indian place and order food. Leo and Luka are so big, so they go and pick it up. I have brought two boxes that look like eggs. I divide the candy into two; 11 Mariannes, 11 Kinder Schokobons, 9 Fizzy Boom, a candy snake and one lollipop each. There was some left over, but that was enough. I hide them.
The boys come home and we eat, when we are done they go treasure hunting for their eggs. They seem happy. Maike sends a message saying that she’ll be having some beers with her band to calm down. We lay down and watch a movie, the boys rest their heads on my chest and I fall asleep. The movie ended and I brought them to their beds. I clean up, do the laundry and then the anxiety comes. If this aphasia would stay, all I have ever done in my work and to some extent on a personal level would be torn down.
Lately I have understood that my main interest is not language, as I always thought, but speech. The word uttered by someone with an adressee, with an intention that turns more and more vague the closer one looks at it. That, and even more, to have brought speech into the theatre, what Austin would call ‘the parasitic language’, is maybe the fundamental question in my practice.
What about now?
To think about that the coming time of resting/ workless time gives me afraid of heights.
Erik text me and we are talking back and forth. I try to clean my thoughts (my fears) by reading. I bought Delillos book Zero K at the airport - I thought this holiday period should mean reading a novel - that I have started. I have a hard time to follow it over more than a few pages. I brought Barthes Mythologies in Swedish, shorter brilliant text. They are tough as well. I hate this new me.
At 2 o’clock I realize that its Saturday and I text Maike to ask if she will go out further, in case I should not expect her soon. She doesn’t answer and I call her, with the same result. The phone is the one thing that brings us, being in a long-distance-relationship, together. And I get a bit sad, we have been having situations like this before. At the same time I’m feeling needy, sticky. I have been asking for too much already since Thursday. At 3 am she comes home, having missed her phone. She has an upswing energy and we sit down and talk. We laugh. She has been worried about not doing enough on Thursday night, I try to get her to let go of that. We laugh. She says that my speaking is much better than before and I feel it too. We have sex and fall asleep face to face.
I wake up and feel better. Pill against the headache. The speech is better. I’m supposed to go to Stockholm tomorrow, work a couple of days as an actor and stay with Leo for some more to have more holiday time, until going back here on Friday. I have never called in sick before, but now it’s probably the time. Maike is free and we spend some time in bed watching the last episodes of Girls. Then I call the American production company that I'm supposed to work for. We talk and I feel better. I’m starting to have the feeling that I should do it. But after some emails it’s decided that I should skip it. They ask if I can think of someone else. I have a walk with Leo, having a few phone calls to other actors, after a while I can tell that the aphasia is returning more than before. I pity to not have the Stockholm days with him.
I’m writing these words in a notebook because I’m trying to avoid facing a screen. A black one. My favourite is Conceptum, if I can’t find that one I’m using Moleskine, like today, the same size. 240 blank papers with a pocket on the back cover. Then I have to transcribe it, obviously.
Tomorrow I was supposed to, as usual, bring my body, this pile of meat that even shits and pisses slavery and oppression, to another trip. Over the Baltic Sea and lay it down in a hotel close to where the truck struck, doing work. Now I don’t know. I have to bring it back to bed, close my eyes and start to imagine the cherry tree in the yard of my childhood home.
It had a thick branch, perfectly made to sit, stand or lay down on. During the blossom period I usually laid down there looking up, smelling the fragrance. During the berry and leave period one could sit in there, almost completely covered from the outside world, only small gaps that one could look through. I brought my friends (one at a time) and we had contests who could spit cherry pits as far as possible. On the one side there was a heavily trafficked highway, filled with trucks running from Finland or Russia down to Europe. On the other side, my house and the yard. The tree was the twilight zone.
I’ll imagine and try to write a poem about it. A few sentences, maybe a Haiku… Into this book, on one page using a pencil.
Then I’ll erase them, word by word, sentence by sentence, leaving blank space.
Or as a possibility
- (for other words)
Iggy Lond Malmborg (1987) is a freelance actor and performance maker based in Malmö, Sweden. His pieces span over a wide range of aesthetics and styles, both solo and collaborative work (incl. Maike Lond Malmborg, Johannes Schmidt). His main artistic interest is to use the performance event as a model onto which the pieces discourse directly can be applied. By using strategies that can be compared to minimalism, he sheds light on the politics of theatre and read it as a hierarchical machine with (unconscious) patterns of inclusion and exclusion.
His latest solo work Physics and Phantasma premiered at Kanuti Gildi Saal, in Tallinn (Estland) in March 2017.
#1 January 1st - 8th Jacob Wren
#4 January 20th - 30th Alexander Karschnia & Noah Fischer
#5 January 30th - February 6th Ariel Efraim Ashbel
#6 February 6th - 12th Laila Soliman
#9 February 26th - March 5th Gina Moxley
#11 March 13th - 19th Agnieszka Jakimiak
#12 March 20th - 26th Yana Thönnes
#13 March 30th - April 2nd Geert Lovink
#15 April 10th - 16th Iggy Lond Malmborg
#17 April 24th - 30th Jeton Neziraj
We are deeply saddened by the devastating news that Mark Fisher died on January 13th. He first visited the FFT in 2014 with his lecture „The Privatisation of Stress“ about how neoliberalism deliberately cultivated collective depression. Later in the year he returned with a video-lecture about „Reoccupying the Mainstream" in the frame of the symposium „Sichtungen III“ in which he talks about how to overcome the ideology of capitalist realism and start thinking about a new positive political project: „If we want to combat capitalist realism then we need to be able to articulate, to project an alternative realism.“ We were talking about further collaboration with him last year but it did not work out because Mark wasn’t well. His books „Capitalist Realism“ and „The Ghosts of my Life. Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Future“ will continue to be a very important inspiration for our work.
Podiumsgespräch im Rahmen der Veranstaltung "Die Ästhetik des Widerstands - Zum 100. Geburtstag von Peter Weiss"
A Collective Chronicle of Thoughts and Observations ist ein Projekt im Rahmen des Bündnisses internationaler Produktionshäuser, gefördert von der Beauftragten der Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien.