Rudy Loewe on Sharing Knowledges
Can you describe what community means to you?
Community is a word that I like to think of as being quite fluid. Community, to me, is making an effort to build something with a certain group of people, which can take a long time and a lot of determination. Sometimes when people talk about community they are actually speaking about a group of friends. I think this happens maybe more with more specific communities like within the LGBTQ+ community. For me, there is a difference between community and friendship groups. Community is something you have to work really hard to build and it is not easy, it takes a lot of time. It is something you have an investment and dedication to doing, even if it feels like it is not working, but there is a common goal that drives you and that you are working for.
Could you talk about the methods in developing Sharing Knowledges?
I’m very aware of context in my work. Sundbyberg is not a community I have been part of before, so it is very important to me to have people from the local community in Sundbyberg involved in Sharing Knowledges so the work brings together multiple voices. I often work with archives and then find ways to relate this material to current discussions. It is a meeting of my knowledge and the knowledge of Sundbyberg and finding out what the common ground there is between the two.
Could you describe some of the themes that have evolved during the research?
One thing that feels very present in all of the research and work is the election and the feeling of political tension. From the interviews, I found out about the political influence placed on what kind of spaces and groups can exist in Sundbyberg. How to critique political or institutional structures and highlight the importance of self organising and what kind of power this brings, has become an important question. However, there is also a focus on sharing and exchange, which is why the exhibition is called Sharing Knowledges, and part of the installation includes space for people to share their own knowledges. I see the exhibition room as a conversation that will change over time, I bring my part of the conversation, and over time people bring their part, and we can try and formulate some discussions from there.
Do you see the exhibition as a moment of collective reflection on your research?
An exhibition provides a moment to share our knowledges and our different experiences publicly. There are a lot of people doing really important work here in the community but maybe they don’t need to, or don’t have time to reflect on it, that is just what they do. Yet, I do think it is important to have space to reflect on this work and its connections to wider political landscapes. Reflection is important, especially collective reflection that is shared as we learn from each other and we learn from each other’s mistakes and how to do things differently. It can help us to move forward so we can support each other to build something a bit bigger. I see this as part of an activist practice, to share strategies between groups so we can learn more from each other.
What has struck you most at this point in the research?
Three different people yesterday mentioned the school that was closed in Sundbyberg. They discussed how children from all areas of the borough went to that school and now that doesn’t happen. What is the thought process behind closing a school and making the area more segregated? There is something very important about people meeting and being around people from different cultural backgrounds and class experiences. Closing the school took away the reason for people from different areas to meet and that is incredibly sad.
How has Sharing Knowledges influenced your ongoing practice?
I am thinking a lot about how do we move forward after the election? What is my and an artist’s role in organising? And what are the ways we can keep organising when groups are losing funding both within the art and community sectors? I think there is a feeling that the election happens and then people stop organising, but I think it is the other way around. Now we know what the situation is we need to organise to think about what the fuck we are going to do!
Can you discuss how you will share these wider reflections within Sharing Knowledges?
One of the events in the exhibition will include a film screening of films from the 1970s UK, which I see as very relevant and important to what is happening in Sweden and Stockholm right now. The films document anti-racist self-organising. Utilising historic references such as these have informed my practice as an artist and an organiser. Hopefully people can reflect on the self-organising in the films’ contexts and it can inform different ways to mobilise.
Can you describe how your work found common ground with the Open Call opportunity?
When I saw the theme for Open Call I thought this is what I already work with. I am involved in a lot of organising around Black, POC and LGBTQ+ identity working through the groups Collective Creativity, Brown Island and my own creative practice works around questions of social political issues. When I think of solidarity I think about what does that actually mean? What do we envision solidarity as? Is it something we can do from a position that is comfortable? I don’t see it like that. I think solidarity requires us to get out of our comfort zone. Stockholm is a very individualistic place, so it felt very important to think about community and working collectively here.