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Alexander Grüner-Moström in the process of mounting the exhibition at Kunstplass.

by Alexander Grüner-Moström

Three Rooms It's been more than thirty years since I saw this complex, provocative and amazing art film Querelle, R W Fassbinder's very last film as a director. Querelle is about searching for identity, and the desire to love and be loved. It is about domination and of being dominated; a journey in finding oneself but also in meeting your own self-destructiveness. The film is supported by a suggestive mood, unfolded by a distinctive use of color and light; imbedded in a surrealistic dream-like scenery. The mood is enhanced by an insistent soundscape, monotonous voices in short dialogues, and the humming and singing of the character brothel madame Lysiene: «Each man kills the thing he loves! Each man kills the thing he loves! Da-da-daaa. Da-da da-daaa. Each man kills the thing he loves! Each man kills the thing he loves! Da-da-daaa. Da-da da-daaa… »

The humming in Querelle got stuck in my memory. The words in the song turned out to be borrowed from Oscar Wilde's poem The Ballad of Reading Gaol, more specifically the verses seven, eight and nine.

This became my way of getting to know Wilde's poem and the story behind it. Oscar Wilde serves a two-year prison sentence at Reading Gaol; through which he becomes a witness to the reality that emerges in the poem. In 1895 Wilde is convicted of «the love that dare not speak its name»; the Victorian society's response to homosexual identity. The same day Wilde is released, he moves to self-elected exile in France; and dies three years later at the age of 46. It is during this time that he writes this poem, signed under the pseudonym «C.3.3» (section C, corridor 3, cell 3). It is considered to be the one of high literary value he writes after his imprisonment; two years in captivity has given him poor health and crippled him as a man and as an artist.

Too early, society lost a popular poet and playwright and a sharp public debater. Wilde as «criminal» is linked to his identity as a homosexual man; but what defines a criminal act is fluid; depending on how you delimitate the concept of a criminal act, it also follows control over different-minded, people deviating from common norms or identities. Wilde is just one example; homosexuality is just one example; differentness has many faces. «Each man kills the thing he loves! Each man kills the thing he loves! Da-da-daaa. Da-da da-daaa… » The poem contains a universe of reflections, not least the verses seven, eight and nine; known as lyrics.

My exhibition Three Rooms is an invitation to get curious about this particular poem. I associate freely with The Ballad of Reading Gaol and visually relate to it in three different rooms:
- Yet Each Man Kills The Thing He Loves; an installation where the poem is «translated» into three-dimensional configuration and shaped as a cell that visually and tactically encloses the body; whith something insistent and monotonous about it.
- Wilde's room; an installation with the poem being present as a sound track (29 min, narrated for this exhibition by Alexander M Delver).
- Wound; work in process; a performative installation with the written text as an experience for a repetitive and insistent action; where the poem is being shaped as delicate embroidery.




Copyright: Kunstplass [10]