Helio – Official art commission, Skellefteå, Anderstorpsgymnasiet


”Helio” – entrance. A colour scale that thrives in the sun! On a distance, they create an illusory portal. As we enter, a room opens that is flooded by sun-yellow light. The light is as ”invisible” as possible, regarding its sources,  rather we sense that the light emanates from the walls themselves.

We are 250 kilometres south of the polar circle, in Skellefteå, in the northern hemisphere where it is dark the larger part of the school year. What lights up is the snow that falls during the winter months. The colour scale we chose takes us to the Brazilian artist Helio Oiticica’s world. Rio de Janeiro, where Helio lived, is located in the southern part of the globe. Here it is warm and sunny and the sun is strong. Helio’s name is the Greek word for sun. He was an artist. Many of his works were about everyday things that were given a magical meaning, dance and giant wall-like surfaces that had a very specific colour scale. We have borrowed colours from them.

We think it’s important to refer to an artist who is well known to many artists in the world, but who maybe rarely associates with him. We want to stand next to him. We would love to eat him up! Swallow him and his work to become something different from what we were before. Some kind of reversed anthropophagia.  In establishing the relationship – artist – reality – work – viewer and the object’s purpose, which here is a portal, there is a desire to create relationships/bonds. Helio crossed several boundaries that came with his middle-class background. He became part of The Mangueira Samba School. Helio was censored and had to escape Brazil, which was then ruled by a military junta.

A relationship is something that can be established between places, through a train connection, or between people, in like having a relationship with someone. The word relationship  also entails responsibility, such as when a contract or agreement is established and one undertakes and promises to fulfil something, in the future or from now on.

The anthropophagic manifesto was written by the Brazilian poet Oswald de Andrade in 1928 and was an attempt to reverse the significance and consequences of the brutal colonization of Brazil by simply swallowing it. ”Tupi or not Tupi: That’s the question” is the most iconic sentence of the manifesto. Through the cannibalization itself, the symbolic swallowing, of the establishment of the European colonial legacy, the power would be restored. The artist Trasila do Amaral wrote, ”I only have one language and it’s not mine”. Being forced to use the language of the colonizer in the country in which one is raised and where one has another mother tongue is a kind of violence. Anthropophagi was a way of overcoming, taking back one’s language under prevailing circumstances, which was then Portuguese and representing the European superpower.

Portals can indicate that we pass through something to come out like something else, on the other side. We want to encourage all students and others who walk through the portals of Anderstorp’s high school to eat up and transform their inner enemies, in whatever form they come, and regain power over their own inner wishes of what they want with their lives and the time they are at school Sometimes this may seem insurmountable, but here in the portal ”Helio” there are connections to and examples of those who have already tried. ”Tupi or not Tupi: That’s the question”.



Below, work in process

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