The Hills an example

The Hills an example is a collaborative work between myself and Zoë Poluch. The Hills… (as method and example) was worked out and presented as a model and proposal for a “public art work” in an exhibition at Gävle Konstcentrum. The Hills… is a honour to the Gävle born union activist Joe Hill. Joe Hill immigrated from Sweden to America in 1902, where he got involved with the IWW union (Industrial Workers of the World). He was executed in Salt Lake City on the 19 november 1915 after being wrongly accused for murder. His last words were “don’t mourn – organize!”, which consequently is the mantra of this episode.

Joe Hill wrote and sang songs to distribute his political views, his songs were often based on already existing melodies, “The Preacher and the Slave”, one of Hill’s more known songs, is a mocking of Salvation-army hymn “In the Sweet Bye and Bye”. Hill coined the famous line “you’ll get pie in the sky when you die” with this song, which was first published in the 4th edition of the “Little Red Songbook” in 1911. Political public debates were forbidden in America during this time and to get past this law was “The Preacher and the Slave” sung by Hill over the Salvation-army tune when played on the street.

During the exhibition opening in Gävle we borrowed this method and got the audience to sing a song together (Främlingsarmén) that was written for the exhibition occasion over “The Preacher and the Slave”. This song tries to continue Joe Hill’s call for the importance of organising and doing things together. The live recording of the song was afterwards installed in the exhibition and played every time someone picks up a leaflet of The Hills as a model that was also on display in the exhibition.

Below displays an example of the method:

10 Statements
The empty room of speculation
The Hills Proposal



[haiku url=”″ graphical=”true” title=”Främlingsarmén”]


En främlingsarmé är det här:
när ens arbete blir till prekärt
när helheten är svår att förstå
och gemenskapen inte uppnås
Vi är främlingsarmén
svår att se, är det enda, vi ber:
Slappna av! Sakta ner!
“Ska det ske”, säger de “jobba mer” (That’s a lie)
And the starvation army they play
and they sing and they clap and they pray,
men en paj smakar bäst på vår jord
undermåligt som himlens lovord
You will eat, bye and bye
in that glorious land, in the sky;
Work and pray, live on hay,
you’ll get pie in the sky when you die (That’s a lie)
Som utspridda försvinner man lätt
och “samhörighet” blir ett begrepp
Men sörj ej det är bara agera
sista ordet var: “organisera”
Vi är främlingsarmén
svår att se, är det enda, vi ber:
Slappna av! Sakta ner!
“Ska det ske”, säger de “jobba mer” (That’s a lie)
Villkorspapperna rivs snabbts isär
skapar stress och en massa besvär
och kunskap blir till en ny produkt
och vi jäktar och drar en lång suck
Vi är främlingsarmén
svår att se, är det enda, vi ber:
Slappna av! Sakta ner!
“Ska det ske”, säger de “jobba mer” (That’s a lie)
Vi ställer oss samman, nu här
stämmer upp till gemensam konsert
och när the world and its wealth we have gained
så sjunger vi denna refräng:
Denna främlingsarmé
organisera er, mer och mer
Tillsammans vi stressar ner
Det är det bästa som här kan ske!
(That’s no lie)


The Hills håller svetslågan brinnande med primitivt puttrande trampdynor, hypnotiska, repetitiva ukuleleriff och skimrande melodier. Med ett sound inspirerat av den Gävlefödda fackaktivisten Joe Hill blir det förflutna aldrig poserande retrotrend hos The Hills. Det är inget bibliografiskt projekt, utan ett tillvägagångssätt. The Hills låter varken som något du tidigare hört eller som något nytt. Det händer nu.

Kampsång, stängda dörrar och hemmagjorda discon där skosnören har snörats upp för att binda band på dansgolvet. The Hills sjunger inte med en gemensam röst utan med flera motstridiga röster samtidigt. Det handlar om samarbete, om att arbeta och att göra det ihop. Vid scenkantens slut öppnas dörrar för nya samarbeten där politik kan praktiseras i tidlös D-moll. The Hills har mer styrka än talang, tillsammans låter det alltid bättre.

Detta är debuten som tar ukulelerockens monotona motorväg från stålstaden Stockholm till järnverksstaden Gävle. I härdade öron låter det maniskt, malande och helt magnifikt. Resultat uppnås via kollektiva solidariska aktioner, med andra ord: “Sörj inte, organisera er!”



Email **11 March**

Sorry me now for not returning your mail quicker. I am glad to hear that NYC was good, did you see my sister? This would have been fun!

I have been trying to make sense out of my project for the exhibition in Gävle. I am making a performance at the opening, I am not sure if I told you about this or not, but I have framed it as an artist talk. But it is basically an attempt to try to make everyone attending singing this song, a song that I have written under the pseudonym The Hills (described as: battles songs, closed doors and homemade discos where shoelaces has been untied to form relations on the dance floor). Its been difficult to write lyrics for this song. I had no idea that it would be so hard! I have now written some lyrics in Swedish and some in English. I figured it would be easier to entice people to sing if it was in Swedish, but my Swedish vocabulary is crap! so here is a English song. It would be great to hear your thoughts on it. It is maybe pretentious but this is something I am striving for i.e. not to hide behind the comfortable facade of irony distance myself. The whole project is based on the idea that everyone can sing, everyone can learn anything and master it all, you know a bit like the Ignorant Schoolmaster…

“Lyrics for a motion”

workers and students
gather around
This floor that we stand on
is meant as common ground
soil has turned solid
gold has turned brown
come, come together
turn the earth upside down.

rivers of power
flowing underground
presume that in the future
There prevail a mutual sounds
emancipate your thoughts
deform the fully grown
laziness is a work
we work to be a bum

combine all our voices
forget what you have learned
disparate is our wisdom
disparate our concerns
declare what you hold dear
adhere mouths and ears
daring is to be leveled
And knowledge is to share

a door will be closing
another is undone
this is a rupture
this is how it all began
organization is the message
new parts the result
join join, our union
together one reach results.

“Approaching a Konstcentrum”


10 Statements on The Hills

– The hills shelter what is dear and always aims to adhere to a person’s ear.
– The hills happened yesterday, will happen tomorrow and most importantly are happening now.
– One cannot see the hills, one only gets glimpses when events and people combines rendering the invisible visible, amplifying the noise that slips through the cracks.
– The ground for the hills is not solid. It is built on piles of shit, layer upon layer of ingestion, digestion and history.
– The hills refuses bounderies and cannot be enclosed
– When sensing makes sense the hills unground this consensus
– Speculation cannot be undone, it becomes real once it enters the atmosphere of the hills.
– The hills orchestates rupture to-gather a together that unvovers proximity, as the flower never grows alone and babylon tower was jointly built.
– The hills collect.
– The hills are a cover: they conceal and reveal
⁐ Cover with a “t” is covert
– Hey you there! It sounds like something you have heard before but it is not.

“10 Statements” is a game from Everybodys toolbox

History and Objectives:
The statements can be used to define a specific area of interest within performance, and to elaborate and develop thoughts on a certain topic. It relies on the form of manifesto where being precise to the point of excluding other possibilities is desirable. The statements do not need to have eternal value, but they should trigger you to think differently. The tool is about producing opinions and positions that can be productive within your work. The purpose of writing 10 statements is to clarify your own ideology and make it visible to others. It’s also about daring to take a stand, exposing yourself to critique and put some fire in the debate.

1. Choose a topic that you would like to work on, for instance “statements on how to work”, “statements on site-specific performance”, “statements on spectatorship” or “statements on what practice is”.

2. Think of the format of writing and decide whether or not you want to use a formula. For instance super short and precise, long and descriptive or starting each sentence the same way, x is…/x must…/x is considered…

3. Write the 10 statements on the topic. Try to be as specific as possible and write them in a manner that is coherent with its ideological content and don’t be afraid of being categorical.


7 statements on how/why 10 statements

Writing ten statements on something is a quick and fun way to help you articulate postitions, strategies or ideologies.

You can choose to write your statements from various positions, also ones you don’t nescessarily agree with. Take the more difficult option.

Try to be as precise as possible. This could either mean being super categorical or trying to completely capture whatever complexity exists in what you are writing about and anything inbetween.

Let your statements take the form which is best suited to what you are writing about, the position you are writing from or how you want your statements to work.

Challenge yourself to write all ten statements or more. Don’t stop if you first think three is enough.

Writing ten statements on something has the potential to be a versatile tool with lots of uses. It can function as a starting point for discourse, as ideology, as a guide on how to work on something or think around it, or as a departure point from which to develop stuff, like subjects to work on, practices and ways of working.

Write your statements with a clear intention of what or who they are for, or simply begin writing and see what happens. Sometimes the use becomes clear afterwards. Writing ten statements can be good simply to clear your head.

Collective Statement Game

Write one statement on a piece of paper and pass it to your neighbor. He/she can choose to add, change or delete a statement and the paper is finished when it has 10 statements. Continue passing the remaining papers until all papers have 10 statements. Read and discuss the statements in order to understand what they propose in terms of cohesion, fragmentation, perspective etc.

The empty room of speculation

Is a game of speculation. Set up as a panel discussion this is not a symposium requiring hard and reliable research but rather the format of a symposium as a framework to talk and fictionalize our way inside of and around the future. It is called “The Empty Room of Speculation” and situates us in 2112. The game has a strict frame but within this frame there is the possibility to invent and elaborate together our speculations of the future.

This is the first session we played with participation by: Pål Bylund, Toby Lynas, Stina Nyberg, Zoë Poluch, Laurel Ptak, Jens Strandberg, Uri Turkenich.

We hereby invite you all to a symposium that looks back at the 21th century’s ‘Self-organized learning’ movement in art, theory and education. With recent major museum exhibitions that revisit the turn of the century’s “educational turn” we now ask ourselves, decades later, where did all this knowledge production get us? What did these inititives lead towards, what was actually learnt, and what can we learn from it now in 2112?

As a basis for a critical reconsideration of this movement, this one-day symposium will explore the beginning and end of certain initiatives such as Enlightenment Hearts, Prekariatet, and other artistic practices that, during this period, worked around this topic. It has become clear that the discourse surrounding this period in history has become dense enough to demand critical reconsideration. The conference will also revisit other historical movements such as the Copenhagen Free University, Occupy Wall Street, and EuroMayDay.

You are kindly asked to prepare a brief presentation approx. 10 minutes long that foregrounds and critically engages with this historical period of the 21st century as an essential strategy for uncovering blind spots in the discourse and exploring ways in which it can be redirected, revised, and if necessary, overturned.

When: February 24th, 2112
Where: Konstfack, Stockholm
Costume: optional but futuristic is appreciated.

Best wishes.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++FIRST PROPOSAL++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Hills

A pamphlet, no matter how good, is never read more than once. But a song is learned by heart and repeated over and over.” Joe Hill.

I would like to use this opportunity to further my interest in “organization”. “The Hills” is a new project that will be carried out from now until the exhibition next year. The project takes it starting point from the legacy of the Gävle born union activist and sing and song writer; Joe Hill. It aims to use his famous mantra “Don’t Mourn, Organize!” as the method for making the work. To begin has a Joe Hill group been established, entitled: “The Hills”. The Hills is a choir/reading/performance group that together will generate an art work for the exhibition.

Joe Hill immigrated from Sweden to America at the turn of last century. New in the country he learned English while working various jobs. He soon got involved with the labour union movement IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), where he began writing songs with political messages. It was, at the time, against the law to demonstrate and to speak in public in America, but according to the film by Bo Wideberg from 1971, Joe Hill cleverly got around this law by performing his song next to the salvation army. This way he could use the music played by Salvation Army but sing louder than their voices exchanging the message with union political information. Joe Hill was executed in November 1915 in Salt Lake City after being accused for murdering a former police man and his son. Many biographies has been written about Joe Hill and in Gävle one can nowadays visit Joe Hill’s childhood home (Joe Hill Gården). This mini museum contains fragments of Joe Hill’s life as well as a small outdoor stage in the front garden.

Although the project stems from the legacy of Joe Hill, it is important to clarify that this is not a bibliographic project. Meaning; this project will most likely not show anything historical or new about Joe Hill, nor will it directly address Politics connected with IWW. Instead it hopes to indirectly take on some of the issues, concepts and questions highlighted by Joe Hill and IWW. For example; what does it means to work together? how can one use music for informing a public? How can one learn in group? How can an objection be a form of creation? etc.

It is difficult to say precisely say what the project will contain, as it will unfold in the process. However it will begin by addressing the subject of organization, as well as the site of exhibition by reading texts aligned with learning to sing and write music. The Hills is not a cohesive group, instead it hopes amplify various voices that through agonistic conversations can develop the project. Constitutive for my work is an inquiry into a set of questions revolving around democracy, collaboration and collective working methods. Recently it has circled around the notion of “objects”. Objects can be understood in various ways, in my current research I aim to question the object in the form of the verb “to object”. This is a method that I have found useful when creating. It is also a method that I believe is especially applicable to this project, as Joe Hill struggle was a form of an object to the working conditions.

The Hills will collaborate with various institutions and venues in Gävle, including Joe Hill Gården, local musicians (yet to be decided, ideally we would like to collaborate with Gävle Konserthus or musicians from Gävle Symfoniorkester) and Gävle konstcentrum. The final presentation will take the form of a flexible arrangement of elements with the possibility of being assembled as a series of “objects” as well as being organized as an installation. It will also consist of at least one event that will be carried out as part of the exhibition. This event will take place at one of the collaborating institutions and will more directly address local situation in Gävle.

It is on this endeavor we would appreciate your support.

The Hills.

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