Accelerator presents filmmaker Ester M. Bergsmark’s first institutional solo exhibition. voice under at Accelerator invites visitors to a performative film screening led by Bergsmark herself. The screening is divided into different elements consisting of moving images, a somatic exercise and a board game.
About the exhibition
Emerging from Bergsmark’s long experience as a filmmaker, voice under has developed from the endeavour to expand the fixed character of the film medium; in time, materiality, narrative structures and viewer position. Through the screening, Bergsmark invites the audience to step out of the conventional passive audience position of moving image and to experience film through a broad sensory register. The title of the work refers to the artist’s desire to explore and listen to the diversity of parallel voices beyond or alongside the omniscient voice over of film. The artist wants to investigate the subversive potential of the film medium through a body of work that incorporates uncertainty, mobility and porous narratives.
In her work, Bergsmark draws parallels between how memories are situated in the body and the conventions of the film medium: “Just like a film where the recording remains unchanged, trauma is also a time capsule that can take static form in one’s memory, it is repeated and formulated in the same way over and over again”. One of the driving forces behind voice under has been to explore how desire, joy and liberation can be a generating principle – in terms of inner, outer and collective change.
This has developed into a method Bergsmark refers to as Traumaturgy: to resist dramaturgies that are based on the audience’s fears or that repeat violence in their depiction of violence and trauma. Bergsmark’s Traumaturgy wants to develop dramaturgies with the capacity to depict the vulnerability of queer and trans people in particular, without the fixation on humiliation or trauma. Instead, the aim is to portray the potential of vulnerability and uncertainty as liberating, transformative and pleasurable.
The screening at Accelerator begins with a moment of shared silence. Bergsmark is interested in neurological functions and how various methods for trauma treatment departs from the autonomic nervous system and its regulations of activity and tranquility. In several ways, the work wants to explore how a seemingly passive body can be the expression of an active act of resistance.
A central part of both the process and the work presented at Accelerator is the element of play and games. This part of voice under resembles a board game but is primarily structured around the elements that define play: the absence of goals objectives and winners. In some social interactions – such as engaging in play and games – the autonomic nervous system can generate the bodily responses that are a prerequisite for curiosity. The game in voice under also gives a new temporal anchoring to the moving images in the work. Instead of being fixed to the distant time of the screen (narratives of something that has or will happen), the images are tied to the time of the space and the bodies present.
About Ester M. Bergsmark
Ester M. Bergmark is an artist, filmmaker and researcher. Bergsmark works across genres and formats, often in close collaboration with other artists. Some of her most notable films are Something Must Break (2014) and She Male Snails (2012), both in collaboration with Eli Levén, and Maggie vaknar på balkongen that was notably awarded with a Guldbagge for Best Documentary in 2008.
voice under is a further development of Bergmark’s artistic research project within the PhD programme Performative and Media-Based Practices at Stockholm University of the Arts in the fall of 2023. The work is developed together with the actors Nina Jeppsson and Louise Löwenberg, the choreographer and dancer Halla Ólafsdóttir, the sound engineer Carolina Jinde, the film producer Anna-Maria Kantarius, cinematographer Minka Jakerson and the production designer Clara Isaksson.
Parts of the work All that you can ́t leave behind by Halla Ólafsdóttir and Franz Edward Cedrins are included in the film’s choreography. The film material is produced together with Garagefilm International AB with development support from the Swedish Film Institute (film commissioners, Baker Karim, Juan Pablo Libossart and Jannik Splidsboel, controller Jenny Örnborn), Film Stockholm, and Creative Europe.
Curator: Therese Kellner