How can art explore future scenarios for new lifestyles, relationships to other species, to the earth and between humans? Established in 1816 on the site where Accelerator and Stockholm University are located, the Experimental Field was an experimental agricultural science research activity that aimed to develop Sweden’s agriculture. The eponymous exhibition presents eight contemporary art practices that experiment with issues pertaining to the major challenges of our time. Taking its starting point in history, the exhibition The Experimental Field highlights and fosters discussions based on the experimentation taking place in contemporary art and science today.
On the works in the exhibition
The majority of the works in The Experimental Field have been created specifically for the exhibition and are displayed alongside loaned historical objects. All of the contemporary works possess performative qualities; organised meetings and conversations will be initiated with visitors, and installations will become sites for various types of rituals. The exhibition addresses ideas concerning non-hierarchical relationships to other species and nature in general. Experimentation as a basic prerequisite for creation permeates the art practices presented and the series of public discussions in which researchers at Stockholm University participate.
The exhibition presents eight contemporary art practices: Andrea Zittel explores what we need in order to survive.Signe Johannessen investigates trans-species relationships between humans and domesticated animals throughout history, while Åsa Elzén and Malin Arnell explore our mutual dependence on forests. In collaboration with The non existent Center, the group O highlight the need for organised social activities in a work based on the subversive power of empathy. Furniture designed by Uglycute constitutes a site in the exhibition for study and contemplation. As part of Accelerator’s Art + Research programme, the art and agricultural collective Kultivator are creating a process-based work in collaboration with cultural working worms.
The exhibition includes works loaned from Magasin III Museum for Contemporary Art, historical works and archive material from the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry, Stockholm City Museum and Nationalmuseum, Stockholm.
The History of Frescati and The Experimental Field
Long before it became part of the Stockholm University campus, Frescati was a place for research and experimentation. Initially a Royal hunting ground and then a centre for agricultural and physical experiments, the area has also housed a retail plant nursery and an agricultural museum.
In the late 18th century, interest in agriculture grew among landowners and an educated upper class was interested in how agriculture could provide economic gains. Europe saw many developments in agriculture, including agrarian reforms, new machines and tools. Agricultural sciences emerged as a new discipline of natural science, and in 1816 the Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture established the Experimental Field at Frescati.
In conjunction with the establishment of the Experimental Field, an experimental farm was founded as well as a model farm that would finance the research activities. Modern tools in accordance with new, international models and the introduction of crop rotation were indispensible for the model farm. On the experimental side numerous experiments were carried out and departments of agricultural chemistry and plant physiology were instituted. Oats, root vegetables, berries and garden plants were cultivated and various breeds of cows and sheep were introduced, primarily from Great Britain and Germany, in order to study growth and milk production in relation to domestic breeds.
In the 1940s, the Experimental Field’s agricultural research activities were transferred to the Ultuna University of Agricultural Sciences, which later formed part of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU. The few buildings that remain today from the Experimental Field are now used by the university.
The historical part of the exhibition at Accelerator includes photographs, paintings, illustrations and drawings from the Experimental Field’s 150-year history.
Accelerator’s exhibition The Experimental Fieldis developed in collaboration with researchers at Stockholm University, who will also contribute to a series of public discussions in the autumn.
Participants in the exhibition:
Malin Arnell, Artist
Åsa Elzén, Artist
Signe Johanessen, artist
Kultivator, Artist Collective
O in collaboration with The non existent Center, Artist Collective
Uglycute, Art and Architecture Collective
Andrea Zittel, Artist
Exhibition Team Accelerator
Richard Julin, Curator
Therese Kellner, Curator
Tove Nilson, Communications Manager
Anna Wallgren, Communications Officer
Erik Wijkström, Exhibition Technician
Communications Officer, Anna Wallgren
Bronwyn Bailey-Charteris, Researcher Collaborations Project Leader
Emma Järnwall, trainee
Madeleine Kozma, trainee
Elina Lund, trainee
Magasin III Museum for Contemporary Art
The Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry
Stockholm City Museum