Lost in Echoes 

YEAR: 2006-2007 | MATERIAL: DV cam transferred onto DVD, process and pedagogical commitment | DURATION: 8:27 mins

The project 163 04/ (referring to the postal code) was a three year challenging pedagogical and creative project betweeen Tensta Art Center, Konst2, Tensta High School and Konstfack University College of Arts, Crafts and Design. Throughout this project's first year I was artistic mentor together with Samir Alj Fält, setting the high standards.

The film Lost in Echoes is the result of our longest running workshop. We started backwards and firstly recorded sounds for a soundtrack for the coming film. After a three hour session in a studio, we had a producer and technician to create a soundtrack out of our various "noises". The final score was then used as a foundation on which to write the script, catching all visual ideas we could and placed it onto paper. From that script a proper film pre-production started with all it's contents; casting, setdesign, clothes, character description, location and rehearsals. Locations were intentionally chosen in the environment around the schools and Tensta Art Center. As an end result we travelled with the whole group of students to show the finished film at the Venice Biennale 07.

In this year our students/ collaborative artists were: Selcuk Cigel, Rabi El Mardini, Sarah Dayan, Farinaz Friezade, Joakim Forsgren, Gabriella Gerges, Shamiram Haido, Hawnaz Kadir, Sedat Köyluoglu, Monika Mastafa, Sara Monshizadeh, Magdalena Naziropoulou, Otim Ocora, Anna Odell, Shirin Raouf, Seher Talayhan and Elisa Touma.

Publication published by Katrin Bedjou Arashi
Graphic design by Parasto Backman
with text by Åsa Cederqvist, Samir Alj Fält et.al. 

Åsa Cederqvist: “The Courage to Fail

As an artist and pedagogue of the 163 04/ project, I wanted to emphasize the possibilities of the imagination, as well as pass on tools for reaching beyond one's own creative safety zone and one’s inner critic. I wanted to focus on the invisible material that arises in the creative process, in the spaces between practical work, education, music, philosophy, psychology, drama and contemporary art. I also wanted to show alternative ways of conceptualizing the art process. For example the way the story of an embarrassing event can become an object that is later used as a prop in another story, and how that story, when it is turned into a scene, can have different meanings depending on how it's performed. It’s like the game “Chinese whispers”, an invisible thread that connects a whole chain of associations, completely self-evident once you spot it.

I recently came across an analogy about how circus performers work with balance and trust, which I feel applies to the creative process as well. For a tightrope walker the actual struggle for balance is the balance, the second you relax and try to reason about your position you risk falling. For an acrobat, trust often works in tandem with balance and strength. They need the courage to fail to be able to go higher, to sharpen their acts. It's as if they stand to lose, or win, everything, just by daring to go for it. As an artist, I keep returning to the idea of putting yourself out there. Whether I am directing an advertisement, working in the studio, or on stage, there is always an element of risk, not as physical as the circus performer's, but in the sense of being on the edge of an idea – daring to trust and follow my intuition, even if the idea is not yet fully formulated. It's like letting a murky, sticky, mess lead you to a goal you weren't even aware of.

Or like leaping right into it, like we all did one afternoon in the fall of 2006. For the first time, participants from Konstfack and Tensta Gymnasium gathered together for the workshop Hopp. The air, and everybody's eyes, were full of anticipation. We discussed jumping as a motion and hope as an emotion (the Swedish word “hopp” means both “jump” and “hope”). We had a short lecture which led us through contemporary artists like Peter Land, with his slapstick falls from ladders and barstools, to Yves Klein's comment in Leap into The Void, to Neil Armstrong's famous words “It’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”, to Jacques H. Lartigue's early 20th century photos of well-dressed women and men leap frogging and somersaulting outdoors, and on to viewing films featuring Parkourpractitioners. After that, we jumped and took pictures, experiencing jumping as an extroverted motion with an inward resonance. As far as I’m concerned, Hopp set the tone for our further work within 163 04/.

In the trusting spirit of collaboration between Samir Alj Fält and myself the fall term workshops were infused with the courage to fail, transformed into raw material. We continuously emphasized the importance of sticking to a deadline and executing one’s ideas from A to Z. We used short assignments, in various media, to lead up to the larger art production of the spring, where 20 students from Tensta Gymnasium and Konstfack collaborated on Lost in Echoes - a dream-like and surreal art film, nine minutes in length, which we presented personally, among other places, at the Venice Biennale of 2007. I remember how we all sat on a staircase in Venice, tired but happy, playing charades with each other just before the first screening. We hadn't just made a great film; we'd gotten to know each other too!

Experiences and memories linked to the project are many. Like during the studio recording of the soundtrack for the film, when the students Hawnaz and Shirin sang so beautifully it gave me shivers all over! Or the thrill it gave me when all (!) of the students chose to come to the film shoot during their Easter holidays, or how we had to keep stopping the students from making noise while we shot our lead actor's most challenging scene. Or the time when the student Otim and the make up assistant Anta agreed to be grim reapers, and laughed along with us all despite having to wear such tight, revealing, black costumes! We'd created a collective that had room for as many personalities, wills and traits as it had members. “Success through diversity”, as I saw a local ad say. Working collectively is hard. It's like an obstacle that you can’t get past without the courage to improvise and lose something. I had exposed myself to risk again, and I felt like a success! I had managed to express what I wanted, we were working with the invisible material, and we had all shown courage!

Åsa Cederqvist, april 2009”