The Delighted Spectators Quietly Viewed the Remarkable Spectacle


An exhibition along Ronneby River from Korrö to Baste lake. Curated by Åsa Jungnelius in collaboration with Växjö Konsthall. August 2014

The Delighted Spectators Quietly Viewed the Remarkable Spectacle was a site-specific work for the exhibition   Participating artists: Johanna Gustafsson Fürst, Åsa Jungnelius, Fredrik Paulsen, Caroline Ringskog Ferrada-Noli, Lisa Torell, Jonas Williamsson and Markus Vallien.

Photo: Jonas Lindström

”Johanna Gustavsson Fürst’s The Delighted Spectators Quietly Viewed the Remarkable Spectacle also engages with our expectations of the encounter with nature. The piece can be found in two sites. One site is indicated by two wood benches placed on either side of the stream. At first glance the benches appear idyllically situated by the leafy edge of the stream; perfect spots for a much needed break from paddling, with an opportunity to pause and take in the beautiful surroundings. But upon closer examination one realizes that the benches’ placement is even more strategic. Instead of directing our attention to the picturesque surroundings, the resting spots direct our attention to what lies just beyond the verdant river’s edge, which are the warehouses and mill of Lars Carlsson’s Wood Products, Inc. The company clears, processes and sells timber from nearby forests, and has also produced and donated the material for Gustavsson Fürst’s benches. By treating the buildings as a part of the environment rather than as something we’d rather ignore in our pursuit of a satisfying experience of nature, Gustavsson Fürst reminds us that we are in the middle of an industrial landscape where timber and tourism are hard cash. We are also reminded that one depends on the other: the very nature that most people today consider attractive and hikable is not virgin forest, but instead consists of forests that have been thinned and cultivated over the years creating a passable and variegated scenery. Similarly, mass tourism emerged as a phenomenon alongside industrialization, when leisure time became a popular concept and the working population had means that extended beyond everyday needs.
A few hundred meters away by the open ing to Bast Lake is another component of the same piece. We are encouraged to dock and wander into the forest. The tier of fully grown trees, however, turns out to only be a few meters deep. Beyond awaits a largescale nursery. We follow Gustavsson Fürst’s wooden walkway to a specially constructed viewing platform. Again the conceptual and actual components of the piece are one and the same: the platform is constructed out of the locally harvested pine it aims to highlight. The company Southern Forest Plants delivers more than 15 million forest plantings annually from their nursery in Flåboda. Infinite numbers of plantings of the exact same height stand in straight rows waiting to grow to the desired size and be planted by landowners around the country, to be cleared a few decades later. The sea of standardized plantings brings to mind the premise in Peter Tillberg’s paintingWill You Be Profitable Little Friend? (1971–72) where equal parts listless and expectant schoolchildren look back at us from behind their rows of school desks. Gustavsson Fürst’s piece stages an abrupt contrast to the prospect of natural nature and becomes yet another reminder of how our gazes are often directed. Like the bulk of the trees we encounter in Swedish forests are planted, the paddling tourist’s sense of freedom follows a welldefined course. Gustavsson Fürst’s piece constitutes an elegantly interlocked unit where circuits of production and consumption are made visible, as are we in our roles as both fellow actors and spectators.”

Extract from the text FROM PLACE TO IDEA AND BACK AGAIN—Thoughts about and around six art works along the Ronneby River. By Lisa Rosendahl. See the full text at