Photo: Gylleboverket

in the world like lovers do

25 february – 24 september 2023

With the exhibition In the World Like Lovers Do, Gylleboverket has created an immersive installation on the ground floor of Havremagasinet. In the room, a narrow bridge takes us to an island surrounded by water and campfires. The visitor is invited to sit at the center of a ritual. Although the performative elements shown in the video projections have taken place in another place and time, there is a possibility to participate; the installation is structured so that the visitor must enter the work and become part of it. Central to this installation and Gylleboverket’s general practice is gathering and performing actions together. Something that seems evident and fundamental leads to complex questions about our way of living and working in times of exploitation, disaster, and alienation. How do we reconnect with each other, humanity, and the cosmos?

The word “reconnect,” which Gylleboverket often refers to, is initially not abstract or difficult to understand. It is about creating a connection between humans, other living organisms, and nature that goes beyond a simple approach, deepening and changing the relationships. What remains, however, is the question of how we do it. This is where Gyllboverket’s practice comes in. In The World Like Lovers Do, the focus is on rituals. Rituals are inherently performative and are executed according to a given framework, whether gathering in a particular place, performing specific actions, or thinking about something according to a pattern. The rituals that Gylleboverket engages in are not meant, as in many other types of ceremonies, to symbolize a religious narrative or invoke cultural traditions, but they share specific attributes. One characteristic is the importance of materials and space, which, like the light and fragrance in church rooms, are meant to evoke a certain mood.

On the ground floor of Havremagasinet, darkness prevails, and soft carpets and a peaceful water mirror create a sense of intimacy and tranquility. The soundtrack holds the body and anchors it in the room. The ritual takes place around a fire that illuminates the faces of those gathered here. Their Presence characterizes their actions and expressions, which unites many rituals and constitutes their inherent power. Through Presence, we can draw attention to something we usually barely notice or take for granted. It is a break from a steady stream of everyday thinking that easily attaches itself to established structures, even though we recognize that they are not for the best. Presence is not an exercise in concentration, but a way of seeing and feeling that paves the way for a new approach to the world. The rituals also allow us to approach things that transcend our reason, like death, love, or our place in the cosmos.

In addition to its artistic practice, Gylleboverket runs a permaculture farm and a platform for cultural practitioners. Although the activities here differ from the installations and performances in various art contexts, those are a holistic idea that underlies what we see at Havremagasinet. On one hand, there is the idea of coming together and organizing for change. On the other hand, it is about the relationship with nature. Permaculture is a form of cultivation that emphasizes the social and how different cycles and systems can connect and become a whole. No distinction is made between people and nature, but they form a unit together. And unity can only come about if there is contact between the parts. This brings us back to the word reconnect. Despite the apparent obviousness of the word, it carries with it a question in the form of a “re.” What is it that we once connected to, lost, and now endeavor to reconnect to?

The relationship between humans and nature, and the questioning of their separation, has been a concern on several occasions in history, not least during the Romantic period. In literature and art of the period, man’s emotional life is often reflected in the surrounding landscape. The title In the World Like Lovers Do sounds contemporary but finds a possible resonance here. A reminiscent depiction is found in Georg Büchner’s 1836 short story about the schizophrenic poet Lenz’s walks and experiences in the fog-shrouded Vosges mountains. In the descriptions, there is something that could perhaps be a reconnection: “he imagined that it must be a source of infinite bliss to be touched in this way by the special life of each form of life, to have a sense of stones, metals, water, and plants, to take in each of nature’s creatures with the same dreamlike ease with which the flowers take in the air according to the different phases of the moon.” However, Lenz’s experiences do not stop at his intimate relationship with nature, which is also characterized by the weight of darkness and the silence of the mountain peaks – his sensitivity to the world around him also applies to people. “He walked through the village; a light shone through the windows; he peeked in wherever he passed, children at the table, old ladies, little girls, all calm and peaceful faces; it was as if the light radiated from the people inside, he became light-hearted.” Perhaps we miss what is essential if we focus on Lenz’s schizophrenia, for is it not instead the lover’s gaze that characterizes his relationship with the world? He seems to be able to teach us something about the world as a whole, and the world also responds to him. Once inside the first cottage, he is greeted with, “Welcome here, even though we don’t know each other!”.

Although we never get an answer about what this “reconnection” means, we know what it feels like. Through Lenz and Gylleboverket, we see how every moment carries the potential to reconnect with the world. It starts with placing oneself in the center of it and putting aside for a moment the distinctions established by daily life, finding the Presence and sensitivity of the lover to the water, the fire, the organisms, and the world.

Text: Elias Kautsky, producer 

About the artists

Gylleboverket is an artist group and a platform for contemporary art and culture based in an old industrial building in rural eastern Skåne region. The artist group practice is based on deep ecology, ecological thinking, and the spiritual. They often work with larger site-specific installations, performances, rituals, films, and social sculptures. To complement the group’s artistic explorations, they run the platform Gylleboverket, a cultural gathering place for creative experiments, film, and meetings where self-organization and collaboration are explored. Read more about Gylleboverket here:

In the World Like Lovers Do, 2023. Installation. Photo: Marcel Köppe