Past exhibition
Ester M. Bergsmark Ester M. Bergsmark

voice under

9 Mar – 14 Apr

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. 

Installation view 'voice under'. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger

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.

voice under at Accelerator takes place in an installation divided into two spaces in which two films are presented. The first dark enclosing space presents a film in which several bodies have come together into one. A body is gendered primarily through face, voice and front. In this film, the focus is on the back and the spine. There is a duality and ambivalence in the gesture of turning your back on someone – it can be out of arrogance as well as fear. To turn away from a potential threat is both to put oneself in a vulnerable position but can also be a strategic act of self-preservation. The making of the sound and choreography have been informed by acts of listening to the resonances of a past in deep time before the emergence of vertebrates. Jellyfish are a species seemingly far removed from humans, but there are similarities in our nervous systems that are triggered by danger. Is it possible to experience traces in your own body from a time before minerals came together to form bones?

Parts of Bergsmark’s process are initiated by an intuitive prompt in situations where states of heightened attention and intimate presence can occur. The artist has a large archive of film and physical material collected in such moments. The second space is installed as an arcade for board games. Along the walls, materials and objects from this personal archive are lined up. These objects functions as the pieces of the board game. The film shown here contains several clips from the archive, together with fragments from other own ongoing film productions and found archive footage.

Both films are guided by the idea of the different layers of time we harbour in our bodies. 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 a static form in one’s memory, it is repeated and formulated in the same way over and over again”. She is driven by the desire to explore how desire, joy and liberation can be a generating principle – in terms of inner, outer and collective change. Traumaturgy is a term Bergsmark has given her quest of developing dramaturgies with the capacity to depict the vulnerability of queer and trans people, without the fixation on humiliation or trauma. Instead, the aim is to approach 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. A governing idea is that 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.

Opening hours & tickets

voice under is 65 min long and the performative film screening is held on Wednesdays at 18:00 and Saturdays at 13:00 in Swedish and on Sundays at 13:00 in English. Find Accelerator’s regular opening hours here.

All performative film screenings are led by Bergsmark herself. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger

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.

Installation view voice under. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger


Curator: Therese Kellner

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 the artist F E C are included in the film’s choreography and audio. The film material is produced together with Garagefilm International AB Development support: The Swedish Film Institute (film commissioners: Baker Karim, Juan Pablo Libossart and Jannik Splidsboel, controller: Jenny Örnborn), Film Stockholm, and Creative Europe.

Director: Ester M. Bergsmark
Script and development / co-creators: Nina Jeppsson, Halla Ólafsdóttir, Louise Löwenberg Audiovisual prototype editing / writing: Ester M. Bergsmark
Character workshop leader: Louise Löwenberg
Dramaturgy: Nina Jeppsson
Choreography: Halla Ólafsdóttir
Producer: Anna-Maria Kantarius
Actors: Nina Jeppsson, Halla Ólafsdóttir, Louise Löwenberg
Actors workshop and script development: Roxy Farhat, Lisen Rosell, Brandy Litmanen Cinematographer: Minka Jakerson, Ester M. Bergsmark
Sound script, ADR and sounddesign: Carolina Jinde
Editing: Marion Tour, Neil Wigardt, Ester M. Bergsmark, Isabella Karlström
Script research: Alicia Hansen, Rebecka Bülow, Johannes Rydinger, Ismaila Jallow, Kaly Halkawt, Hanna Rosén
FAD: Siri Hjorton Wagner
Set design: Clara Isaksson
Assistant set design: Anine Bjurman Felix Greisinger, Anna Eriksson
Set design intern: Ee Kihlstrand, Annie Jonasson
Modelmaker: Isabel Sjöstrand
Production manager: Ida Lindkvist, Hanna Hannerz Simå, Erika Eserblom
Sound recording: Jess Wolfsberg, Petra Koppla Dahlberg
DIT: Sergio C. Ayala
Costume: Ester M. Bergsmark, Franciska Svenson, Erik Annerborn
Assistant costume: April Lin, Anna Eriksson First
Assistant camera: Focus Puller Linus Enlund, Dinis Rodrigues, Jonatan Bjerke
Electrician: Lars Göran Nygren, Roland Engström
Clapper loader: Eric Lindqvist
Steadicam: Nestor Salazar
Make-up artist & costume: Emelie Henriksson
Production assistant: Zahraa Aldoujaili, Hanna Rosén, Laila Snijder
Runner: Zahraa Aldoujaili, Hanna Rosén, Saga Ekesryd
Executive producer: Mimmi Spång
Colour grade: Daniel Pherson
This project was filmed and developed in the following locations:
Skh Linnégatan and the film studio at Vallhallavägen, Stockholm, Sweden
Performing Arts Forum, Saint-Erme-Outre-Et-Ramecourt, France
Häringe castle, Västerhaninge, Sweden
Milvus Artistic Research Center, Knisslinge, Sweden
The Biological Museum, Stockholm, Sweden
Bogesund castle, Vaxholm, Sweden
Bergianska trädgården, Stockholm, Sweden