Future exhibition
The Experimental Field
7 Nov – 14 Mar 2021

The Experimental Field is the former name of the site of Accelerator and Stockholm University. In the forthcoming eponymous exhibition, we present six contemporary artists who in their practices experiment around ways of life, agriculture and the built environment. At a time when our society is facing major problems, Accelerator explores the role of experimentation in society past and present and the experimentation that takes place in contemporary art and science today.

Documentary photograph taken at The Experimental Field in 1954. Courtesy of Stockholm City Museum, photo: Herman Rönninger SvD 34678.

About the exhibition

The group exhibition The Experimental Field features works by Andrea Zittel who explores what we need in order to survive while Signe Johannessen reflects on our relationship to cows. Åsa Elzén and Malin Arnell investigate our mutually dependent relationship with the forest and the group O highlights the need for organised social activities together with The non existent Center. Furniture designed by Uglycute constitutes a site in the exhibition for study and contemplation. Artist and farming collective Kultivator will make a process-based work collaborating with worms as cultural workers within Accelerator’s Art + Research program.

The Experimental Field was the name of the experimental agricultural science research activity that was established at the beginning of the 19th century at Frescati, which is the location of Stockholm University and Accelerator. With the eponymous exhibition, Accelerator wishes to shed light on the history of the site and contextualise it with the activities that are conducted there today.

The exhibition includes works on loan from Magasin III Museum for Contemporary Art, and also historical works and archival materials from The Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry, Stockholm City Museum and Nationalmuseum.

The History of Frescati and The Experimental Field

The Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture’s Experimental Field in 1868, lithograph after drawing by J.F. Meyer (detail). Belongs to the The Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry’s archive.


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.

Here, you can download and read a longer text about the history of The Experimental Field.

Researcher collaborations

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.

Credits

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

Thank you:
Magasin III Museum for Contemporary Art
The Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry
Stockholm City Museum
Nationalmuseum