SUNDAY, February 17th, 2002, 23:00 - 24:00, Ö1


I. "Birds in Sweden"
II. "The Holy Torsten Nilsson"

by Öyvind Fahlström

frontpage of the book birds in sweden

[ deutsch ]



"Birds in Sweden"


"Manipulate the world - take care of the world" was one of the main tasks of Öyvind Fahlström (1928-76), something he played with in different variations in his multilayered works by working with everyday material: with pictures, sounds and words he creates new contexts in many different media, that "are impossible to read as simple narrative" (Mike Kelley).

The audio-composition "Birds in Sweden" was produced in 1962 for the Swedish Radio and broadcasted here in 1963 as part of a series on the theme of new voice art in literature and music, introduced as a piece of concrete poetry. With his piece Fahlström created something that had not existed in this context before and would become very influential for a new genre of text-sound composition in Sweden. The artist's own texts are used along with other, often fragmentary language and heterogenous sound material. We find all genres of music - opera, classical music and pop - mixed with pieces of concrete poesie, new "monster languages" and bird sounds to a dense structure that creates its own context without being narrative in a traditional sense. In his "Manifesto for Concrete Poetry" from 1953 Fahlström defines language as something that ought to be played with - meaning also that it should be broadened by inclusion of other language systems e.g. by the translation from natural sounds to phonetics. In this sense he uses syllables of bird songs - recorded, alienated or imitated - and combines it with our language by creating "birdo" - no secret language but a language inspired by bird's sounds as desribed in the classical books "Faglar i Sverige" (Birds in Sweden) and "A pocket guide to birds" - thus pointing at possibilities as well as the social construction of language. But also showing the potential of radio - not only its audio and collage possiblities: by asking his audience to use their own "tongue", sticking it between their lips and slowly moving it outwards he creates a performance that integrates people from diverse location as part of the piece.

"The Holy Torsten Nilsson"

Chapter 1, Ö.F. eavesdrop
Chapter 5, First visit to the institution
Chapter 28, Sweden the underdog

"The Holy Torsten Nilsson", produced for the Swedish Radio in 1965 is Fahlström's most complex and extensive radio project. It follows the idea of "blind film" for radio as a paraphrase of thrillers or spy films. Neither satirical nor novellistic it is meant to probe the possibilities of radio as an art form as well as the possibilities of literature in the age of mass media. Their opportunitiy to include "pure life material" is used by Fahlström to combine "so called art" and "so called life". Living people are given a new setting. Royal personage, politicians, stars mingle with crazy scientists, agents or american Civil Right activists and during the 23 chapters develop an independent charakter from their original contexts. The audience experiences, how "a real person experiences an unreal situation".

The broadcast is a Kunstradio-contibution to the exhibition "Öyvind Fahlström. The complete Graphics, Multiples and Sound Works", 7.12.01-3.3.02, Bawag Foundation, Vienna

For copyright reasons both compositions can be heard here only as short excerpts.

[ deutsch ]