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Research projects


Öyvind Fahlström – monograph

I am planning a new project a monograph on the Swedish author, artist and playwriter Öyvind Fahlström (1928–76). Fahlström has until now been studied from within strict disciplinary aesthetic perspectives, as e.g. art history or music. His broad artistic field makes it necessary, however, to analyze his praxis from a interdisciplinary perspective, and for that reason I have chosen an avant-garde understanding of his work. In new research on avant-garde the special status of the avant-garde lies exactly in its interdisciplinary, transgressive and international character, something of which Öyvind Fahlström is a good example: born in Brazil by Norwegian-Swedish parents, with an aesthetic ground in Sweden, the Nordic countries and New York.

The monograph is structured by the avant-garde tradition of which Öyvind Fahlström is a part. I begin with a discussion on and a definition of the notion of the avant-garde, followed by a presentation of the avant-garde of the sixties in Sweden and internationally. I continue to discuss Fahlström’s aesthetic project, as it is described in interviews, articles and manifestoes, where it becomes striking in what degree Fahlström was a forerunner in the arts. Finally, I will analyze his individual projects in different aesthetic mediums: concrete poetry, visual arts, music and theatre. through a discussion of the different arts one by one I will gradually work my way to the multi-dimensional part of his work, while at the same time keeping to a strictly interdisciplinary perspective. The goal of the avant-garde is to create Gesamtkunstwerk, which gives me the opportunity to relate Fahlström’s praxis to the social science, media philosophy and technological history, besides using theories and methods from different aesthetic fields.

I plan to publish the monograph by in the end of 2009. During the scolarly year 2006/2007 I will be working extensively with collecting material, making interviews and starting to write. For this I will need a long and concentrated period of stay in Stockholm. The material was published in newspapers, magazines, fanzines and in books, but also staged theaters and broadcasted, and should for the most part be available in different archives. To make sure that the material is representative, I will also carry out interviews with people that knew Öyvind Fahlström and/or worked together with him on different occasions, a labour-intensive task considering his broad and international network of friends and collegues. It will for example be necessary to contact people that he knew and/or worked together with in New York, where he lived after 1961. I will furthermore be contacting relatives that may have unpublished material by Fahlström.

I will work closely together with different Nordic research networks, e.g. Nordisk Avantgarde Netværk (The Nordic Avantgarde Network), Nordisk lyrisk modernism (Lyrical Modernism in the Nordic Countries) and Den nordiske etterkrigslyrikkens poetologi (The Poetology of Nordic Post-War Poetry). I have given the first preliminary, and more theoretical, results of my research as papers at different seminars, especially these connected with the before mentioned networks, and have received qualified response from researchers taking part of the seminars. I also hope to get supplementary feedback from musicologists in future seminars held within the framework of these networks, since I need assisting when it comes to music as an academic subject. I have given a paper on a colleague of Fahlström’s, Åke Hodell, and his theatrical play Lågsniff, in a network for media philosophy, part of the Nordic Summer-University (NSU), Reykjavik the 24th–30th of August 2004, and have thus already worked my way through some of the interdisciplinary and media-philosophical aspects of my project. I have also given a speech on the reception of Fahlström in a Nordic perspective at a seminar in Lund the 22d–24th of September this year, in the network Nordisk lyrisk modernism (see next project). I will therefore be well-prepared in Spring 2007, since I have discussed the theoretical background to the project extensively. I therefore expect that I in the Spring can be concentrated on collecting data and material, making interviews and writing.

Det nordiska 60-talsavantgardet – articles

Together with my work with the monograph on Öyvind Fahlström, I will be carruing out an analysis of the Swedish avant-garde of the sixties and their contacts with their Nordic colleagues, as my part of the work in the network Nordisk lyrisk modernism. The contacts and influences between the Nordic countries has not been very well researched, and this is especially problematic when it comes to the neo-avant-garde of the sixties. There was, namely, a very lively activity involving contact between the countries, not least because Stockholm for a while was a Nordic center where the aesthetics of the avant-garde are concerned, with exhibitions as ”Movement in art” and ”Poetry can be made by Everyone” at the Museum of Modern Art. If one reads the cultural histories on this epoch, however, they are each written from a national point of view, with descriptions of the contacts and influences within each country, while the Nordic contacts are not even mentioned, or if they are, as facts of no consequence. It is, therefore, of great importance to describe the cultural history of the Nordic countries, so the status and range of the Nordic interrelations and influence can be mapped. This work will result in one or more long article/s, which will be published in the anthologies that are planned by the network.

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This page maintained by: Per Bäckström – per.backstrom[at]kau.se.
Last update March 23, 2011