Anna Linder was born in 1967 in Lapland, Sweden. She is an independent artist, curator and producer. Her works have been exhibited and screened at Tribeca Film Festival, Palm Springs International Film Festival, Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, ICA London, The Swedish Institute in Paris, and at Arsenal Cinema in Berlin.
Currently she is researching on Queer moving image culture at The University of Gothenburg, Valand Academy. For Umeå2014 European Capital of Culture she curated “Words Needed” a project where 4 artists were invited to produce visual conversations to be projected onto four snow walls. The invited artists were: Karin Michalski & Ann Cvetkovich (The Alphabet of Feeling Bad); Atom Cianfarani & Maya Suess (Queer Ecologies); Johanna Gustavsson, Angel Haze & Simone Weil (Open Letter to a Working Comrade 1936 / 2013); Maja Borg & Virginia Woolf (Craftsmanship).
During this interview Anna Linder is also addressing the issue of queer culture, and the difficulties that artists dealing with this topic encounter in our societies, and even in the tolerant and progressive North of Europe.
The Sperm Whore. Photo: Maja Borg. Directed and produced by Anna Linder.
Queer culture and moving images
A Skype conversation between Paris and Savona (Italy)
Conversation transcription below
Tiziana Casapietra: Would you like to introduce yourself and talk about the project you’re involved on at the moment?
Anna Linder: My name is Anna Linder and I’m an artist, curator and producer in the field of moving images and performance art. Right now I work as a researcher at the Valand Academy (ed.: University of Gothenburg, Sweden) focusing on queer moving images with my colleague Ingrid Ryberg. It’s an artists research project, it’s not only focusing on theory, it’s a more practical research project. We both make films and I curate a lot of programs and do a lot of research.
TC: Can you tell us something about the project you are curating now?
AL: There are a lot of different projects really, but if you mention “Words Needed” it’s one of my freelance projects. I was invited by Umeå 2014, the European Capital of Culture, to curate a project for the opening, with moving images on snow walls, in the city space, outside. I asked them if it was possible to produce new works instead of choosing existing works. My idea was not to have sound or involve so many images in a way that you have to see a piece from A to B. I was curious about moving texts, texts-based pieces, so I asked them if it was possible to produce new pieces and they were interested in the idea. They said yes, I got the budget and I invited four artists to work on this idea. I gave them some kind of limitations, because there was also already the space, and the snow walls, all the things we had to deal with.
TC: It was outside right? I mean, was it a public project? A project in the city, outside?
AL: Yes, it started like that, the idea from the beginning was to have snow walls outside. Umeå is far North in Sweden, and this was in the end of January, beginning of February last year, and there was a lot of snow and everything that I curated was outside.
TC: Did the people stay there, outside, to watch the film? Even on such a cold weather?
AL: Yes everything was outside, all of the visitors that came from all over the world to attend the opening, had a lot of clothes and were prepared to be outside. I think it was a public record, we had fifty-five thousand people. There was a lot of snow, and it was beautiful, they also made a big show on the ice, on the canal.
Our pieces, the four pieces, were shown in the city center, in the streets. I asked the artists to work on a conversation with something, it could be a person dead or alive, or whatever they choose, really. My idea was of a conversation with words, texts, with the people in the street, but they had an ideal person (or something) to talk to, so all of the artists I have invited chose to work with Simone Weil, Virginia Woolf, Angel Haze,… They worked on older pieces, older texts, but in a new way. A couple from Canada talked about the Mycelium, the mushroom, and about queer ecologies; Karin Michalski and Ann Cvetkovich from Berlin, made the “Alphabet of Feeling Bad,” a really strong piece…
TC: You presented brand new projects.
AL: Yes, all of them were produced for this. It was the premiere up in Umeå one year ago. And after that we had the possibility to show them also in other exhibitions, I think three different spaces so far. (ed:. A Space of Action – a one day event in Gothenburg showed “The Alphabet of Feeling Bad” as a live projection in the room. At the exhibition Motbilder in Gothenburgh we screened “Open Letter to a Working Comrade 1936 / 2013″ at a big wall outside at Brunnsparken in the city center and “The Alphabet of Feeling Bad” inside a hotel room up in the ceiling so you had to lay down in the bed. In Borås at the exhibition called Syster we screened “Craftsmanship” and “Open Letter to a Working Comrade 1936/2013” , at the big wall outside the Art Museum and at the MIX NYC – New York Queer Experimental Film Festival we screened all four pieces outside on a designed wall made by Atom Cianfarani).
TC: Can you also tell me about the topic of this exhibition?
AL: There was a different topic for the whole group, but it was not necessary to follow it exactly. For the whole year of Umeå as European Capital of Culture, the theme was mainly based on the Sami seasons. We could choose if we wanted to work around that or not. But it was not a rule really, it was more an open idea that I could follow if I wanted to. I thought it was nice to also bring something else into the city because I knew the show on the ice was already focusing on the Sami culture a lot, so I didn’t invite people in that community. I belong to that community a little bit already, and they chose me as curator because I’m from that area. I grew up in the area of this city. I didn’t choose to follow that theme, but I preferred to focus more on a piece that worked in the city, that talked to the people.
TC: I’ve found it very interesting, it was very nice. These videos showed on the snow walls…
AN: It worked really well, I think that the artists were all happy about it, and I think it is only once in a life time to have these snow walls built for you. Because I think it was really really expansive to build them. They were so big and high and huge.
TC: What about now, are you working on other projects? Maybe you want to introduce them to our visitors?
AL: I have this research project for three years and right now I’m preparing things for the spring. We made a show at the Gothenburg Film Festival two weeks ago, about Mai Zetterling a famous film-maker here. It was an unknown film that we found out during our research and no one has ever seen it really, we think it’s really queer. We started to show it in October last year at the Swedish Filminstitute in Stockholm. We have also organized a presentation and talk about Susan Sontag on the 8th of March, where we did a panel talk about the time she spent in Sweden, she made two films here. The Festival shows the new film about Susan Sontag, Regarding Susan Sontag, and later on, in May, we will have a big workshop in Gothenburg with Barbara Hammer, Gina Carducci, Liz Rosenfeld, Ester Martin Bergsmark, Maja Borg and some Swedish artists.
TC: You’re also working at the University, are you teaching there?
AL: No, there is no teaching in the project at all, it’s more focusing on artists’ practical work. I work on my film, I will do a short film inside this project. And we also prepare to make a publication, an artist’s book that we will show at the end of the project.
TC: What topic will be analyzed for this project?
AL: It’s about queer moving images, that’s the main topic, but we have different projects under it, under this main topic. I have my project focusing on experimental films, queer and feminist projects. I’m interested in analog films, and people that works with the material, the celluloid. My film is shot on super-8 and we will work with the film itself and experiment with images. I work with a cinematographer and editor in Sweden on this piece, it’s about queer families and longing for kids and the queer bodies. I’ve been working on it for quite a while now.
TC: Do you think that your society still needs to be educated to face these issues? Even in the North of Europe?
AL: Yes, I think we always have to work on feminist and alternative ideas of moving images and art and to find all these missing pieces that have never been shown. So many feminist projects and queer projects have disappeared in the history. In our research project we try to find these pieces and get them back to the history again as the piece of Mai Zetterling that I was telling you about. It’s so strange that no one has seen it, it’s a queer and radical and political piece but no one knows about it really.