At the entrance to Björneborg Folkets Park, a stone has been placed in the middle of the path, it has been engraved with a clearly visible message: Jag väntar under stjärnorna (I Wait Under the Stars).
To make the work, artist Ulrika Sparre investigated the historical significance of the site, which has been a meeting place for everything from ceremonies and worship to today’s more exuberant dance and music gatherings.
When darkness falls and the park is closed to visitors, UV lights are directed towards the stone, which is charged with fluorescent colours that cause it to glow. It is as if it has come to life and wants to remind passers-by of the power of the place.
The work takes its starting point in the site’s historical significance
Every summer, people gather in Björneborg Folkets Park to enjoy music, dance and food, or to meet and show off their cars. The site, however, has been a meeting place for much longer. It includes a ceremonial site colloquially known as the Stone Church, three rectangular stone blocks that were installed in the early nineteenth century by the mill owner Nordenfeldt. The stones were used as a simple altar for Sunday worship and services. Nordenfeldt’s appeal to the bishop to be allowed to build a church on the site was rejected, as Björneborg, like other mill towns at the time, was considered too socialist for the Church. Later, the site was chosen as the location for the workers’ movement’s Folkets Park.
Directed power of thought and stone formations
In her art, Ulrika Sparre has taken an interest in stone formations as possible places of power. According to certain beliefs, such power places are formed when the thoughts of many people are directed towards a special point; sometimes these power places manifest as stone formations. With her work I Wait Under the Stars, Ulrika Sparre calls on this historical phenomenon, and asks if it is possible that the people, the music and the artists who have frequented Björneborg Folkets Park have charged the place with its own special power.
Ulrika Sparre’s sketch for Björneborg Folkets Park began with an artistic staging of a former tradition of the Folkets Parks, the Fire Festival. Read more about the programme here.
On Ulrika Sparre
Ulrika Sparre was born in 1974 in Stockholm, where she lives and works with installation, sound, photography, sculpture, film and performance. Her artistic practice is directed towards the need for existential questions in our secular society. She explores the creation of faith and identity, as well as the emergence of different subcultures and belief systems. Educated at Konstfack, College of Arts, Craft and Design in Stockholm and the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, she has previously exhibited at Artipelag and the Index Foundation, in Stockholm and at the Reykjavik Art Museum.
Public Art Agency Sweden and the National Association Folkets Hus och Parker entered into a collaboration in 2020 to develop and produce public artworks for three of Sweden’s Folkets Parks: those of Björneborg, Heby and Huskvarna. During the COVID-19 pandemic, with the ensuing social distancing, interest in and the need for our public parks intensified. The question of the Folkets Parks’ historical, contemporary, and future roles as meeting places and stages for the local community took on a new urgency, at the same time as activities in Folkets Parks were hit hard by the restrictions imposed by the pandemic.
Local project groups were formed in each Folkets Park and were given a central role, both in determining the theme for each work and selecting which artist to invite. The artworks are unique and adapted to each respective location and association. All the works were completed in 2022.