Elder’s Hill is a collaborative project by M12 (USA) and Kultivator (SE), made site-specifically in
Öland Sweden. This work is emblematic of M12 and Kultivator’s artistic practice, based largely around
cultural exchange in a rural context and in the case of Elder’s Hill, particular attention the sharing
of intergenerational knowledge. Elder’s Hill is a part of a much larger and on-going project initiated
by M12 and Kultivator in 2011, titled Gran’s University,
"The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there."
L. P. Hartley (1895–1972),
With Big thanks to all the participants
The inspiration for us to start the project Grans´ university, comes from the initiative of Mrs Vendana Shiva, India, that started up her Grandmothers university in Navdanya, North India, in 2003.
"…is aimed at both celebrating and validating the wisdom of our grandmothers, as well as transmitting this to future generations…"
What drew our attention, was that she did this as a reaction on the 9.11 attacks in 2001. The idea of turning to the grandmothers when times get hard inspired us, since they are not usually considered the ones that have the answers when it comes to great challenges of the future.
We are now, far more than terrorism, facing enormous challenges considering farming and food security, due to a specialized and alienated technological development since the green revolution of the 60:es. At this moment in time, we have the possibility to turn to the last generation in our part of the world that was still around before this. We have to look for and find ways to preserve and share knowledge that does not capture in text, to resurrect the deep connection between culture and agriculture, for a future where we do things differently.
Gran´s university wants to be the beginning of a movement that rethinks and rediscovers sustainable systems used by previous generations, mediated through art… Farming and taking care of food are areas where we know for sure that there is an accumulated experience, and we can see that it only partly has transcend into today's highly specialized systems. The reason why some certain ways of doing things has not transcend, might be that they were replaced by something that was better, but it could also be that some certain things just missed an adequate form and context to be “handed over” with, or in. The artistic investigation into this form, is the core of the project Gran´s university. Setting this up is thus not just investigating forgotten techniques for farming and living sustainably, but, equally important, play with the relation of art and the “real”. Can we move on from the critical to the constructive? Can culture and its ornaments again weave together agri – culture, from the fields and the soil into the kitchens and further into us?
The cooperation with M12, Colorado, US, was to create a structure for the Gran´s university, by building a physical form for it, and inventing a form of content. In spring 2013, Kultivator travelled to M12 in Colorado, and started the process, using a mobile unit visiting elderly people on the plains. The billboard set up was one first announcement of Gran´s university.
We wish this to be a starting point for a movement that reinvents not only how we look at progress and modernity, but also celebrates the deep connection visual arts and crafts has with the farming of the land.
This collaboration has been supported by the iaspis-programme AirKalmar, run by Kalmar konstmuseum. Other partners in the programme are Lindöateljéerna and Glass Factory. AirKalmar is funded by iaspis, The Regional Council and the local Municipalities.