Leif Holmstrand

The artwork Acquiring Bodies grows painfully into a mountain of preconceived notions, crushed dreams and material devastation. The mountain rises up in the darkest room of the old ironworks. It is physically formed from abandoned prams. The seats and bassinets are empty – and the emptiness becomes a strong symbol for children who are never born. The mountain can also be seen as a pile of bodies – life that could not be fully lived, life slaughtered in genocide. Life is a prerequisite for death. Death is a part of life. Is it the meaning of life that we humans should propagate ourselves? Acquiring Bodies becomes a monolithic manifestation of the predominant view that love should be between a woman and man, that love is for couples, and that sex easily can and should lead to reproduction. The conventional ways of thinking seem to be carved in stone. There is little or no room for diversity, variation or wider views. Leif Holmstrand has created art from prams for fifteen years. The pram is a borderland where small children learn where their bodies end and the world begins – where the individual is formed. Prams hang in nets – caught in a trap or like worms in cocoons that will soon create fine silk. They have been sawn apart so that the pieces can be ground into flour for baking. They have been used as materials for instruction manuals, put together by others following the artist’s guidelines. In Avesta Art, 56 prams have been tightly fused together into a sculpture that asks: Is it a human right to have children? Is it reasonable that heterosexual couples “happen to get pregnant” while homosexuals need to laboriously plan and arrange their pregnancies? Is it morally correct to bring children into an already overpopulated world? The artwork itself does not provide clear answers. Nevertheless, it expresses sadness over current heteronormativity and an observation that legal rights do not automatically change people’s attitudes. There is a need for role models and a real, popular breakthrough where people proudly declare that everyone has equal value. Through a thin metal wall, monotonous and rhythmic singing can be heard, sometimes clearly, sometimes as a noise: “The purpose of a man is to love a woman, and the purpose of a woman is to love a man.” It is the artist himself who sings a verse from the song “Game of Love” by Wayne Fontana and The Mindbenders in an arrangement with sixteen layers. The sound installation uses light in a small room in the old ironworks that has never been used before to exhibit art – a small changing room with a door. When the dissonance is worst, the melody breaks apart its own message. The artist asks for respect for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation, and for everyone living alone. Leif Holmstrand is a visual artist, author and musician. Currently, he has a ten-year scholarship from the Swedish Arts Grants Committee. He has published 27 books – novels and collections of poetry – most of them through the publisher Albert Bonniers. He often visits Japan, which he describes as having a diversified, open and highly inspiring art scene. “Here in Sweden we live in a time of worry and selfobsession, where people are looking out for themselves and are unjustifiably insecure about their surroundings.” “For me personally, my experience with psychosis has guided me. The disease gave me the opportunity to stand outside of what is considered normal. It taught me that nothing can be taken for granted. Relationships in a society are about agreements. If we can respect that everyone is different, we can gain openness and understanding.” Leif Holmstrand was born in 1972 in Mariannelund in Småland, Sweden and grew up in the town of Ed in the Dalsland province. He studied literature at the universities of Stockholm and Gothenburg and studied art in a sculpture programme in Norrköping and at the Malmö Art Academy. He is a versatile artist with exhibitions around the world, and he is also active in literature, music and other cultural events. He currently lives in Malmö.