Still from "I am Come" (2020) by Kalle Brolin


kalle brolin

MARCH 19 – MAY 15 2022

“Just as coal was fuel for the machines in the factory, for workers sugar was fuel,” a voice is heard saying in the video “I am Skåne” by Kalle Brolin. For them, sugar was the cheapest source of food, at least in terms of energy per currency.

The works presented by Kalle Brolin at Havremagasinet can be seen as two chapters from a larger story about Skåne (a region located in the southernmost part of Sweden), Sweden and the world. The works are based on and primarily explore two industries: the sugar industry and the coal mining industry, which, according to the artist, have influenced and shaped Skåne in many ways. They have affected the physical reality, the landscape above and below ground, as well as the inner landscape as a reflection of people’s living conditions and values.

In his 2021 exhibition, I am spirited away stories of child labor in Skåne’s coal mines in the 19th century were interwoven with contemporary exploration for vanadium minerals, a necessary ingredient in the production of smartphone batteries and the present-day digital data traffic, including dating apps and the countless hours spent online by today’s youth.

The exhibition I am Come consists of three video installations – I am Skåne, I am Come, and I am Come Again – all centered around the sugar industry and sugar beet cultivation in Skåne. These works bear Kalle Brolin’s unmistakable signature, where non-linear and associative narratives merge rich archival materials in image and text with his own film sequences, both staged and documentary. Montage serves as both form and method in Brolin’s works, as he brings together images, documents and cinematic sequences – and by interweaving historical events and the present – creates new experiences, multiple meanings, and new knowledge.

With a thematic approach that revolves around industry and labor, Kalle Brolin consistently returns to repetitive movements as an ingredient in both machine and human work. However, Brolin’s works are also reflexive, often revealing their own creation process and how meaning and content are constructed. One cannot help but marvel at the contrasting conditions of different types of work depicted in Kalle Brolin’s works – the physical labor that engages the whole body, requiring bending down to the ground, lifting, carrying, pulling, tearing, dragging, repeating, with great effort. Or the work where a swift swipe of a finger or a few clicks can create – or erase – entire narratives and realities.

About the artist

Kalle Brolin works with video installations, text and performance. His works have been exhibited at several international biennials and art exhibitions. He is co-responsible for Sunshine Socialist Cinema; a solar-powered outdoor cinema. He has written for cultural newspapers and has also contributed to various art magazines.

His recent series of works; exploring the landscapes and cultures surrounding coal mines and sugar factories in southern Sweden, have been exhibited at Malmö Konstmuseum and Moderna Museet in Stockholm. These works are also part of an extensive tour with exhibitions and screenings taking place in mining and sugar towns throughout Skåne. The works have recently been included in a couple of academic research projects.

Kalle Brolin studied at Valand Academy and Umeå Academy of Fine Arts (MFA) in 2004. He has spent several years living and working as an artist in cities such as Buenos Aires, Istanbul, London, Berlin, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Tallinn, and Gdansk. He is currently based in Malmö.

Exhibition "I am Come". Photo: Jonathan Bergström