Kunsthall Trondheim 2013-2014
Onde Ånds Bibliotek / Onda Andens Bibliotek / Library of the Evil Spirit by Ulla West
Mobile artist’s books library and Library of the Evil Spirit are both long term, on going and open-ended projects.
The projects are open to involvements, reactions, critical opinions and unexpected interventions. It operates through the appropriative reuse of a wide range of texts/images/media/performances/etc as well as the creation of new material.
All of this is then ’reduced’ to an equal status as material and endlessly rearranged into new contexts.
Text: Bernhards Library, an interview published in art scene trondheim. See below.
Soloexhibition – Tracing Thomas Bernhards writings.
Screening: Film about Thomas Bernhard by Ferry Radax, Drei Tage 1971
In conjunction to the exhibition Ulla West also presents items from the mobile artist’s books library.
Items from ”mobile artist’s book library” presented at Kunsthall Trondheim:
Kajsa Dahlberg, A Room of Ones Own– 1000 libraries
Leif Elggren o Thomas Liljenberg, Experiment with dreams
K&W, Krivet Stars
Eva Löfdahl, Pi and around
Snejanka Mihaylova, Practical training in thinking
Georges Perec, Twohundredfortythree postcards
Falke Pisano, Figures of Speach
Cia Rinne, Notes for soloists
Cia Rinne, Zaroum
Gunnar Smoliansky and Claes Bäckström, Sotbrand
UKON/Ulf Karl Olov Nilsson, ?
Ulla West, The Inexorable / Den Obönhörliga
Ulla West, Vita Kuben
Rönnells Antiquarian Stockholm May 2013
Ulla West presents the mobile artist’s books library
Rönnells Sept-Nov 2013
Ulla West presents work in process: Tracing Thomas Bernhards writings
Library of the Evil Spirit / Onda Andens Bibliotek.
Interview by MARIT ARONSSON. Published in artscene trondheim November 2013
Ulla West is current with a month-long residence at Kunsthall Trondheim, a work that will result in a solo exhibition at the same place in January 2014. For many years she has read the Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989), and when she came across the concept Evil Spirit Library in one of his books a process of thinking started that led to a life project that will never be finished.
To start talking to Ulla West on her project about Thomas Bernhard is like opening a door into a labyrinthine world of hidden and visible context, wisdom and associations. It gives you the time to follow around in her mind map above her reading of Thomas Bernhard.
Your project here is about developing a so called Evil Spirit Library. Can you tell me what it is?
That is the first question I putt o myself in my project; WHAT is the evil spirit? This question leads me to more and more threads, more and more books, more and more thinkers, writers, authors, philosophers. Evil Spirit Library is something that Bernhard will return to in his writing, and is made up of works of the thinkers and writers, the people who are important to have with you wherever I go.
I got a clear overall picture when I read about several of the writers and thinkers mentioned in Evil Spirit Library. I had read them before, but now they had a new meaning, context, and the picture became clearer. I got together all my learning. With the selection of the Evil Spirit’s library I seem to get a line on everything I read.
In Thomas Bernhard’s novel Extinction (Utslettelsen) the main caracter gives a master’s protégé named Gambetti literature that he considers as absolutely necessary to be able to survive. He begins with five titles to read and which they then discuss during long walks. The conversation switches between the identity of the teacher and student. Here I see a parallel to contemporary philosopher Jacques Rancière, who writes that the foundation of all learning is the total equality. Learning is more an exchange of thinking than to have a transmitter and receiver of knowledge. This side of his philosophy portrays Thomas Bernhard in a way in his fiction.
What then is an evil spirit,and what are they characterized by?
I understand Bernhard expression ”evil spirit”, that one can be possessed by an evil spirit, to be unblessed, not to rest easy in the state of things. Not to go in part without going in the opposite direction. To dare to throw oneself, risking all, be on the verge of extinction. On the verge of being nothing, to be a disaster. There is a tremendous danger in this, and you have to expose yourself to the danger, the risk that doing nothing will be. Bernhard has an incalculable list of evil spirits, and I develop it with a survey of what the evil spirit is today. Bernhard mentions for example Goethe, Kafka, Schopenhauer, Montagne, Kant, Voltaire, Dostoevsky, etc. The list is full of men, and for each one, I also want to have a woman. Women do not become large until they are seen, until they take place! Thomas Bernhard mentions Ingeborg Bachmann and Virginia Woolf. I look in the context of Marguerite Duras and Unica Zürn, perhaps Agnes von Krusenstierna, Cora Sandel, and now active writers in Sweden Sara Stridsberg, Mara Lee and Gabriella Håkansson. They are very wise and intelligent thinking, writes well. They may be evil spirits in my readings!
What is your working day like here in Trondheim?
The beauty of being in residence, I am disconnected from my usual everyday and have the whole day in a way that I hardly can be at home in Stockholm. Here I can really let me go into the project. I read for example Bernhard’s debut novel Frost, and as I discovered today it is a report about 27 days. I’m in Trondheim 27 days, and submit a written report about each day! Such parallels apears all the time. What I want to do here is to immerse myself, that focus on Bernhard and the issues he writes about and the tracks I find and follow like a detective. I do it for example by so-called close readings. The starting point has of course been reading what has been translated into Swedish. It even goes so I translate those of Bernhard’s books that have been translated into Swedish, but English or now here in Trondheim Norwegian. The readings are thus translations of translations in my language, Swedish. It is a way to work myself into every sentence; writing, sometimes reading aloud. The brain and the hand work simultaneously in an apparent campaign, which allows me to get into a sort of floating, an energy. This is precisely where Bernhard take me as a reader, in his monologues.
You mention that there are different tracks or wires in the project. Can you tell me if any of them?
What I call the silhouette track comes from the first book Gambetti had read, written by writer Jean Paul Richter (1763-1825). The protagonist Liebgeber (which has an alter ego called Siebenkas) is constantly carrying a black paper and scissors in his pocket so he’s always ready to clip silhouette images of interesting people he meets. I read the whole book aloud, recorded, took notes, copied the book in facsimile in five copies (because it was impossible to get hold of other than the Google books) and I have picked out different cutouts out of action, I devoted myself at for example silhouette clip of interesting people for the project. I will also have a Trondheim track which will consist of a survey of the walks I have done in the city.
Do you have a precise plan for what you want to present on the show in January?
A long-term goal of the project is to make a module, a physical container to those books that are in the Evil Spirit Library; simply (and complicated) MAKE Evil Spirit Library! Bernhard mentions that it includes such books as are necessary for the soul, one must have with you wherever you travel in the world. Therefore, the library should be mobile and flexible; to adapt to the needs of man for the moment. It can be a form of exhibition module and for example contain a projector. It may of course contain books and various technical solutions. The possibilities are many and the road is long. What I am presenting in Trondheim is in the middle of a process.
This work consists of books, words and thoughts. But not exclusively so. Bernhard recurs all the time that he sees his narration as a theater stage. First it is total darkness and so opens the WORD light to the scene. A complex landscape grows ahead.
Trondheim November 2013