Thomas Hämén and the stage as phenomenon

Last weekend the quite different exhibition ‘The Drop’ was on display at Galleri Bon in Stockholm. We talked with the artist Thomas Hämén about the project behind the exhibition, the stage as phenomenon and Thomas own artistry.

I phoned Thomas Hämén a few days after the opening of his recent exhibition The Drop at Galleri Bon, and he was still a little bit tired. Thomas lives in Berlin and this was his last day in Stockholm before going back. He has moved back and forth between Berlin and Stockholm since his time at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, from which he graduated 2013 and Thomas still has his studio in Stockholm.

Do you plan to stay in Berlin?
– Right now Berlin is where I have my biggest box of socks. So yes, I think I will live in Berlin for a while.

He continues:
– You know, you always have to return to where you have your biggest amount of socks. But I have applied for some residencies. I think I have to change environment for a while to find new ways to work.

The exhibition The Drop at Galleri Bon was the start of a bigger project that Thomas Hämén is developing together with Karl Sjölund and Jack Djeridi. Something he is working with beside his other individual projects.

What is the idea of the project?
– The main idea of the project is about building up a fictional music artist, with every part that is included in the idea of an artist. Karl and I make the production and the artist persona is build up around Jack.

Thomas says:
– The visual language refer to a late capitalistic expression, that most of the people in a modern western society can recognize and relate to. This artist persona is not yet defined but as an observer you can still refer to the template of an artist.

 I have always been drawn to the stage and the context of music. It’s more abstract and direct in its communication then art.

Thomas Hämén has earlier worked with artists such as The Embassy and Mount Kimbie. He also has a background as a dancer and worked professionally with dancing until he was 20. While making art, he realized that he was more interested in the stage as a medium and phenomenon, then being on the stage himself.

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What interests you with the stage as phenomenon?
– I think I’m interested in the stage as a machine for experience.

How do you look at your way of doing art?
–I see my art as material performances more than objects.

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The exhibition at Galleri Bon was formed a bit special, with a tour bus in the gallery. The actual art piece contained of a video was displayed inside the bus.

What was the idea with that?
– The van in the gallery was a way to create a room inside the room. It also makes the feeling of a cinema inside the gallery.

Kalle Sjölund and Thomas Hämén made the video piece. It has the form of a promotion video or a documentary. It visualizes the preparing of a tour, but it never really shows the actual artist. It is an abstract piece but contains parts and a visual language we can recognize, as mentioned before.

Why did you make a video?
– Video as a medium as well as the music and the entertainment industry has a lot of receivers. Which makes a broader audience and the art reach people that normally would not be interested in art.

The video as medium can be used in different ways. It has a sculptural potential and it’s more than just a narrative form.

The project started this last summer. But the video was filmed this fall in Stockholm and in Berlin.

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Is there anything you want to communicate with this project?
– This was the start of the project and a way to take the kit. This first step is about building up the character. We see the project more as a way to create a phenomenon than making a statement, it’s an interest for the subject.

How does it feel now when the first step of the project has been taken?
– It’s always fun to start a project. Now when the experiment has begun, it can take all different ways.

To see more of Thomas Häméns work, check out his website.

Photography by Fredrik Andersson Andersson.