Pernilla Stalfelt

How can we be the same? How can we be different? Seemingly simple and straightforward questions lure the visitor into the old iron ore bins. Here, where ore was once stored to await refining in the liberating heat of the blast furnaces, one and all are invited to play and reflect, to ponder and to meditate. Happy, sad, narrow, wide, young, old and every other conceivable face meets the visitor in a largescale artwork. Each and every one of us can find a person we recognize ourselves in. The wall of mirrors provides confirmation and our own personal frame. If you’re in the mood to dress up, grab a wig, a hat, a false nose or a pair of glasses and explore a new side of yourself. Who am I? How do I show that, and who do I actually want to be? These existential questions are playfully illustrated. Pernilla Stalfelt’s installation explores deeply human questions of individual identity, interaction with others and tolerance for differences. She has many years of experience of visualizing these for children, not least through her books, which she both authors and illustrates. The picture with all of the faces comes from her book Vem är du? (Who Are You?), which was for many years distributed to all Year 3 pupils throughout Sweden. The book emerged as a result of the best possible research – Pernilla’s own dialogue with children aged 6-9 – in which they explored abstract concepts together. Among the works exhibited is the film Alla barns rätt (All Children’s Rights), which is based on a book of the same name, published in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Stalfelt wants children to understand the rights that adults have formulated for them. The book was published by the nonprofit association Läsrörelsen (“The Reading Movement”), and was distributed in hundreds of thousands of copies via a fast-food restaurant. This enabled the book to also reach homes without books and where human rights may have been an unfamiliar topic for both children and parents. Here at Avesta Art, Alla barns rätt is also available as a book. Like many other of Stalfelt’s books, it can be enjoyed while nestling among the colourful pillows of the reading nook on Floor 0. “Children who broaden their perspective and become aware of human rights are the beginning of something new. Children who know their worth and see their potential can create their own futures. They don’t need to repeat their parents’ lives.” In Stalfelt’s installation, all visitors are involved in the creation process. Her works are no fairy tale world. They are real life. Where seriousness meets play and laughter. Where a small gesture can inspire great thought. Where every person can blossom according to their own unique abilities. With great care, Stalfelt has hand-painted a wall covering in the old iron ore bins. The stripes offer colours of various tones. The visitor can lay their hands against a stripe and see how different nuances change the lustre of their skin – how the shade of their own skin colour is different on the back of their hand and on their palm, different on their arm and on their face. The background colour of the wall covering affects how we perceive our skin. In another part of the installation, visitors are invited to shape their own creations with clay – and anyone who wants to can let their figures remain at Avesta Art, on display for future visitors. Pernilla Stalfelt was born in 1962 in Uppsala, grew up in Örebro and now lives in Stockholm. She works in Moderna Museet’s education and programme department as an art instructor. She also pursues a career as an artist, primarily as an author. She has published more than twenty books and is highly acclaimed for many of her works, including Kärleksboken (The Love Book), Dödenboken (The Death Book), Våldboken (The Violence Book) and Bajsboken (The Poo Book). Livetboken (The Life Book) is about “being born, dying and everything that comes in between. About how time passes and what one can do during a life, such as catch butterflies or stand and wait at redlights.”

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