Using art to save a small town

 Date:11/05/2007 - 16/06/2007
 Type:Culture, Contemporary Art
 Location:England, London

Bjørn-Kowalski Hansen’s first UK solo exhibition, project ‘Håkki’ transforms Gallery Yujiro into different pseudo-entities, never before explored by an art space: an estate agent, a T-Shirt boutique, a cinema and a Swedish Drawing Prize, where contestants can win a hunting trip.

Kowalski-Hansen describes himself as an artist and a social entrepreneur. As an art project HÅKKI™ is a “relational” work (Nicolas Bourriaud, 1999), an artwork which is not complete without the participation of others within both the production and the reception of the work. The exhibition thus becomes a collective experience that questions the authorship and autonomy of the artist and the artwork within society. Initiated by Tomas Eriksson, Mats Mourier Stenslet and Bjørn-Kowalski Hansen in 2002 the project aims to support and to infuse new life into the shrinking community of Ljungaverk, North Sweden. The town has been suffering the effects of heavy emigration and exploitive globalization due to the closing of its main industry fifteen years ago, thus struggling to maintain its very existence.

HÅKKI™ critically engages with service economy, dealing with issues such as the effect of multinationals that consume the supposedly low local culture. The project comes as a unique response to the predicament of the local community by assuming the form of a commercial venture that mimics while criticizing a multi-national. Its profit is put back into the community. Until now the project has sponsored the local girls football team, has offered equipment for the youth club, has helped finance the local sauna and has flown a top London hairdresser to town, giving free designer haircuts to the residents, and most recently, hired a Scottish footballer to see the 4th division team Fränsta get promoted. The results of the artwork are now extending conceptually as well as temporally, aiming to help increase the number of local inhabitants from the present 917 to magic 1000.

Part of the exhibition sees Gallery Yujiro transformed into a temporary estate agent, presenting three properties from the Swedish town of Ljungaverk for private sale. All properties financially amount much less than their intrinsic and aesthetic value. They are beautiful pieces of land in the heart of green and wild Sweden with facilities such as Internet included. Available is a motel in need of some repair alongside two charming and authentic family homes, both with garages. Property details are available through the gallery.  A t-shirt boutique of HÅKKI™ silk-screened printed t-shirts designed by the artist is also on display. All the t-shirts are printed on Fair Trade Cotton and created in collaboration with the local residents in order to better express the present state of affairs and identity of the community. The distribution is done through three shop outlets in Norway. The revenue yielded by the t-shirts on show will be split between Ljungaverk and the support of The 5th Collective Studios, London. T-shirt slogans read “I have friends in the forest” and “I am handy with tools” and more…!

As part of the exhibition, Hansen is also presenting a film based on the opening sequence of the 1990s’ US cult series, ‘Twin Peaks’. The piece was filmed in Ljungaverk, with a modified soundtrack performed by the some of the local members of the Ljungaverk based rock-a-billy-band Willy & The Hitchhikers. To spice up the atypical show, the artist also proposes a prize. During the exhibition visitors can enter to win a hunting trip in Ljungaverk, flights and accommodation included. An exciting professional hunting guide is arranged by the artist so all you have to do is enter!

Bjørn-Kowalski Hansen
11 May - 16 June
Gallery Yujiro
Studio Unit A502 Tower Point
Tower Bridge Business Complex
100 Clements Road
SE16 4DG
Tel: 020 7394 8591

Bjørn-Kowalski Hansen, Untitled 2006, Dimensions Variable, Customized shopping cart, Light box

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Bjørn-Kowalski Hansen, Still Waitin’ For U to Call 2006, 4’04”, 12” Vinyl Record

Bjørn-Kowalski Hansen, Corporate First Reader 2004, Dimensions Variable, Customized Keyboard, Learing books

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