Kultivera + The Soap Factory
Kultivera + The Soap Factory
Tranås, Sweden + Minneapolis, Minnesota
Residency dates: August 1st – September 3rd
Four Minnesota based artists were selected to participate in The Soap Factory’s ﬁrst ever international residency exchange. For our ﬁrst exchange, The Soap Factory is sending Sarita Zaleha, Moheb Soliman, Lela Pierce, and Larsen Husby to Kultivera, an Arts and Artist Residency organization in Tranås, Sweden. Kultivera aims to connect artists from various countries with the hope to promote democracy, diversity, quality, innovation, and cultural development.
This residency is about TIME and PLACE, an opportunity to reﬂect and cultivate ideas through experience and exchange. Artists will be given opportunities to learn about Tranås and Småland, meet other artists, and space to work independently or collaboratively in their studios. In 2018, Kultivera will be sending artists from their network to participate in a residency within The Soap Factory’s new residency studios and gallery spaces. Stay tuned for public events, publications, and exhibits lead by the work created by each participating artist in 2018 and 2019.
Each international exchange will be unique in location and structure, and aim to provide programming and networking opportunities in addition to travel and material support. For all residency artists, becoming part of a distinct network of cultural establishments, conversations, and communities will enhance the experience of making work in a new city.
Sarita Zaleha has a multidisciplinary creative practice that includes installation, photography, video, printmaking, fiber arts, and social practice. Zaleha received her MFA in Printmaking at the University of Iowa with a minor in Intermedia. Zaleha has exhibited her work extensively across the US, as well as in Canada, Germany, and Iceland. She is a fiscal year 2017 recipient of a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant in Visual Arts.
Sarita Zaleha’s current work explores the interaction between the Arctic as a specific place impacted by rising temperatures and human attempts to observe, control, and preserve their immediate environments. She is interested in the history of polar exploration and its contemporary relevance for climate change research. Sarita is looking to use her time at Kultivera experimenting with weighted helium balloons in temporary landscape installations, researching balloons in relationship to weather and the environment. Her research will include a visit to the Andréexpedtionen Polarcenter at the Grenna Museum in Gränna, Sweden, which chronicles (among other Arctic explorations) Saloman August Andrée’s failed attempt in 1897 to cross the Arctic via a hydrogen balloon.
Moheb Soliman is an interdisciplinary poet from Egypt and the Midwest whose work often deals with nature, modernity, identity, and belonging through writing, performance, and installation projects. In the past few years, he has been exploring his practice extensively through the site of the Great Lakes region in which he has lived and He finds this area fascinating as an environmentally coherent borderland central to the history of North America. In 2015, he circled the region for four months under the banner HOMES [Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior] through a Joyce Foundation fellowship, doing site-specific work and collaborating with diverse partners.
More recently, Moheb has collaborated with the five Great Lakes national parks on an installation of 25 poems disguised as official signs in conjunction with the NPS centennial. He is researching and developing a “poem of sublime proportion” through a Forecast Public Art grant to be embedded around the region as 50+ lines/sculptures. His previous major project, Habib Albi is…Not a Man, about romance, gender, and Arab American identity in the Midwest in light of 9/11, showed in New York, Toronto, and Montreal. In September 2011, it was commissioned as the MAI season-opener in 10-year critical commemoration of 9/11. Moheb has degrees from The New School for Social Research and the University of Toronto, and lives in Minneapolis, MN where he also works as Program Director for the Arab American arts organization Mizna.
Lela Pierce is a multiracial (Black: Negro, Creole, and White: Croatian, Lemko, Rusyn) American visual artist and dancer. She has been a student of the Himalayan Yoga Tradition since childhood, spending a significant amount of time in India over the past decade. Her work is inspired by her ancestors, the spirit world, and the intelligence found in nature.
Lela Pierce is interested in continuing her investigation of invasive plant species in Sweden, looking at the attitudes, language, stories and relationships people have to their presence in more rural areas. She is interested in witnessing the ways that indigenous communities, immigrants, refugees, and other minority groups exist and do or do not integrate themselves into the historic and current social-political climate of Sweden. She will be thinking about how this information may or may not relate back to the presence of Swedish settlers in Minnesota as agents of colonization. Additionally, she will draw upon her personal experiences growing up in a rural Minnesotan town where my family members were amongst a few people of color in a sea of Scandinavian and Western European descendants. Lela hopes to create an immersive installation during the residency, using plant matter from invasive species to express insights around migration, colonization, balance, control, violence, and acceptance/rejection. Additionally, she plans to cultivate and maintain a personal practice of dancing and painting during her time at Kultivera, striving to refine a non-eurocentric and properly appropriated personal aesthetic with clearly expressed ideology. Lela anticipates the time at Kultivera will provide ample space to imagine and dream of societal healing and transformation, while making new connections.
Larsen Husby sees himself as an artist working in two distinct but related practices. In his studio practice, Larsen moves frequently between media, including printmaking, painting, sculpture, and installation. He is fascinated by maps, and his art explores the connections (and disconnections) between places and our representations of them. Husby’s other practice is more public and collaborative. In 2013, he established the Minneapolis Art Lending Library (MALL), a nonprofit which lends original works of art to the public, free of charge. Larsen’s work with the MALL stems from my desire to not simply produce art, but to share it broadly and provide new platforms for engagement.
A current project of Larsen’s is a conceptual drawing and durational performance, mapping the network of streets that make Minneapolis. Since October 3rd, 2016, Larsen has been attempting to walk every single street in the city of Minneapolis, recording each walk’s route, duration, and distance. Originally conceived as a means of delving more deeply into his adopted home, Larsen hopes to conceive of what it means to truly “know” a place. By tracing Minneapolis, Larsen is exploring how physical and conceptual understandings of place inform and conflict with one another, how place is defined and redefined, and how personal presence impacts place. And now, with the walking about half complete, he is looking ahead to figure out the best way to present his experience, documentation, and research to others in a way that is equally illuminating and engaging.
Kultivera operates international cultural programs that are physical, social and creative; that stimulate and inspire both the artists and the local community. Kultivera creates cross-border meetings between artists, community, and industry that allow different areas to fertilize each other in mutual interaction. Kultivera’s idea is to connect several European cultures, and promote democracy, quality, innovation, diversity, and cultural development.
The artist is not bound or isolated to a specific location or place, but is inserted in a typical Swedish small-town situations where they can operate internationally through the local.
More information about Kultivera’s organization and residency programs can be found on their about page.
Tranås is an average sized Swedish town not yet a hundred years old, but with a history that stretches as far back as the middle ages to the homestead. Tranås is situated by the mouth of Svartån (Black River) entering the river Sommen. The name Tranås is mentioned in 1407 when the knight Karl Magnusson (Iron Foot) bequeaths Tranås to Vadstenas monastery; specifically referred to salmon fishing at Tranås mill. In the 1700s, the Tranås mill became a major hub located where several county roads crossed each other. In the 1800s the community grew slowly and for a period was called Lövstad.Tranås became a town in the early 20th century, when the fur and timber industry became important in the district due to the abundance of water from lake Sommen and Svartån (Black river). Today, Tranås is known for furniture design and manufacturing, all of which started in 1885, when the first wooden chair was manufactured. It was then, that the railroad was built going through the area creating the need for a station, which then established Tranås as a town which then became a city in 1919.
New Småland Project
Kultivera is connected with the New Småland project. New Småland is an interregional art project that was initiated as a collaboration between four art institutions, three regions, and a university in Småland. New Småland’s ambition is to formulate long-term relationships, experiment, and create conditions for critical and cultural sustainability. This idea is based on locate and connect artists and organizers in the three regions. Regardless of economic and institutional circumstances each are treated by the various stakeholders as equal resources and knowledge nodes in investigating local and regional issues. Working crosswise between artists and institutions, and combining local knowledge with international contemporary art, design, and critical thinking opens possibilities to explore together and rethink the political, social, and aesthetic landscape of Småland.
The Minnesota-Sweden reconnection will be apart of the New Småland project. A great opportunity for Minnesotan artist/curators and The Soap Factory to work with one of Sweden’s most interesting curatorial projects which collaborates with several exciting institutes in the region. Bringing different contemporary perspectives to new and old Småland.