FAN 57

Ingrid Falk, Gustavo Aguerre & Lars Norén

Lund, Linköping, Umeå, Botkyrka, (Gothenburg), (Vara) and Stockholm, Sweden

September - December 2004





FA+Norén/WAR was a street installation using different kinds of traffic signs, to go on tour to seven Swedish cities.

The usual text of the signs was replaced with quotations from the theater play War by Lars Norén, one of the most important Swedish play-writers ever.
The signs where manufactured by the same factory that use to do the standard traffic signs, using the same colors and typography. The signs looked as “real” as the normal street signs.

This work was a part of a larger project, cooperation between the The Living History Forum and Sweden’s Nationwide Theater
The aim of the project was to focus the public opinion on the systematic use of massive rape of women and children as a strategic weapon of war.
The project included the theater play War by Norén, the work by FA+, seminars and conferences with expert’s panels about the situation of women and children in war.
Magdalena Smidova, responsible of Art at L. H. F. invited FA+ to create a new work for this project, to tour parallel but independent with the play.

In a war situation, even in the places where no bombings or fighting happened, life changes radically; every sign gets another meaning, every symbol changes sense, every face becomes another person; the former stability becomes unstable and a new oppressive un-order make’s life hardly bearable.

In the public space of the cities, in the streets, the traffic signs are the most neutral, stable and reliable representation of order and security. They regulate the flow of cars and people in a common agreement for a better security for everybody.
Through changing the well known texts whit the play’s raw lines, FA+ incorporates a moment of uncertainty and anguish in the well ordered everyday life of the by passers, an uncertainty about from whom and to whom is the message and how or why suddenly this disruption of normality occurs.

The simple idea was explosive; the development of the project shown that it was more controversial then whatever FA+ could imagine.

A system of reduction
After several, intensive readings of Norén’s play, FA+ decided to use the text to transport some of the stage’s atmosphere to the streets.
They start to choose quotations. A requirement was that the lines has to work outside the context of the play, they had to be strong enough to provoke a reaction by itself and not in relation to the play.
Later on FA+ took pictures of all kind of signs around the city. Now again the quotations has to have the same amount of letters like the sign, which forced again a reduction in the number of quotations that could look realistic as a sing and still have a strong, disturbing message.

Placing the quotations on the pictures trough a photoshop manipulation they were able to show their idea to Mr. Norén.

After looking at the pictures one by one for a long time, he looked at FA+ in silence for a wile, then, with a soft smile he expressed his opinion: "This is brilliant! And a very good choose of quotations too."

Green light. The intricate work for getting the permits for each city could be started.

The newspapers where informed of the project. FA+ working with Lars Norén, two favorite targets of the critic at once, that was hot stuff. The machinery got started