Saw out and sew together,
Virserums history from ice age to present day. 4/2 - 2/12 2018
Såga ut och sy ihop Virserums historia från istid till nutid. 4/2 - 2/12 2018
The Virserum Art gallery was opened in 1998 with the exhibition Virserum a Dream, and has during the last 20thyears lifted stories from the town and surrounding community. I was invited to create a exhibition for the 20 year anniversary year 2018. My main idea was that most human activities are similar to human activities 10000-8000 years ago when the last ice age ended and the area was first visited of stone age hunters.
I understood during the early stages of development of this project that it would be odd if I tried to tell this story my self. A condition in accepting  the invitation is that the gallery will assist in arranging a series of lectures from different historians to cover the time frame from the ice age to the present. This will create a historical context putting Virserum in this context. I also needed help to come in contact with the people in the area so I could build up a relationship with the community and the idea developed
to create a collaborate work presented as a exhibition made together with the people living in Virserum area about the municipality.
My idéa was to use my pedagogical and artistic experience and work together with the people in Virserum who wanted to participate in the exhibition project. We worked in a similar way as is common with students in the Art academy creating student shows in Museums or in Galleries. The starting point for the project was to invite all people to a Swedish ”fika” , the tradition of sharing coffee and  a ”kanel bulle” cinnamon bun. A central question was what they find important in life and the municipality? What is important historically, now and in the future?
My role was to be a filter and both coach and lead the participants in developing their subject. A visualization process was created through talks, interviews and by collecting storys, objects, photos. I also asked them to put their subject in a historical context and make a historical reflection.
An example is an interview with the midwife, she told about her work and the working conditions comparing to how it was many years ago. She also brought older working tools and a medical basket used from midwifes from the beginning of last century. From a local historian  collecting documents we found a copy of the first employed midwife which defined the working conditions from 1888.
But why were hunters and collectors coming to the Virserum area 8000 to 10000 years ago? The archeologist told us that the oldest things to find were flint stone arrowheads and stone axes; objects which indeed were found in the ground on slopes against the Virserum river. The archeologist told us that this kind of area of different habitats with the combination of forest, rivers, lakes was rich had an abundance of wildlife,  animals and fish to hunt.
The first humans were not living here permanent. Many years passed before they setled permanently. In conjunction with Virserum art gallery, we worked with talks, interviews, workshops, lectures, and assembled different voices from the village and through the exhibition hall we lined a wooden lane extends is in a shape of Virserum, The Virserum river flows through society, and takes you as a visitor through time, while the pillars that hold up Virserum art gallery become the stakes that hold up the community. The exhibition is a patchwork of stories of the hundreds of voices that contributed.
Peter Ojstersek.