The coming of spring is heralded by more than just bird song and couples falling in love. On the eve of Walpurgis, Index opens an exhibition by Henrik Hakansson, an exhibition thematically commenting on this frenetic season. Henrik Hakansson’s initial inspiration comes from the song of the nightingale and has resulted in a completely new film as well as a sound installation never before exhibited in Sweden.
Henrik Håkansson’s film, Nightingale From Dusk Till Dawn (2003) portrays the nightingale, a bird that according to popular legend is as easy to hear as it is hard to see. However, by filming the bird at night with a simple, hand-held camera including built-in infrared optics, Henrik Håkansson has created a small, suggestive portrait of the bird. The sound and vision have been edited to slow motion, with manipulations giving rise to remarkable effects to both the audio and visual.
The concept of a voice is followed up in the exhibition’s second work, the sound installation Nightingale Love Two Times (2002), showing in the upper gallery. Two vinyl records – the A and B sides respectively of the same record – play beside each other. The A side is the artist’s recording of a nightingale on the Swedish island of Öland, the B side is it’s close relative, the southern nightingale, a recording made near Genova, Italy. The southern nightingale is not at all common in northern climes – yet in Henrik Håkansson’s sound installation, these two species gives the impression that it wants to communicate and cross boundaries in what appears to be a hopeless love affair.
In his ecologically engaged art Henrik Håkansson has time-after-time presented the problems around man’s relationship to nature and the animal kingdom and in addition the animal’s relationship to its own reality. In the series of works produced in recent years, a new form of expression has grown stronger and more prevalent, a prioritisation of a relatively refined method of relating to things. The most recent work, taking the form of film and sound installations, reminds one of a minimalist tradition within film and minimalist sound-experiments.
This year, the Swedish Ornithological Society presented an action plan aimed at preserving the declining number of bird species in Sweden. Primarily, the species most affected are those inhabiting rural and forest areas, but even urban-dwelling birds are diminishing in number. In conjunction with the exhibition, Henrik Håkansson and Index has conducted a pedagogic project in collaboration with the Fredric Eens Minne pre-school. This follows and surveys hatching processes in Nacka Nature Reserve during April and May. Those who has an interest in visiting the area where Henrik Håkansson carries out his research can contact the Index staff for further information.
In conjunction with Henrik Håkansson’s exhibition, Index would like to thank Stockholm’s Läns Bildningsförbund, the Swedish Ornithological Society, as well as the children and staff of Fredric Eens Minne in Stockholm. Henrik Håkansson is also exhibiting at Moderna Museet c/o Riddarhuset May 5 – June 30.