I Kiss Your Eyes 
(A Year in Eight Weeks)


2024

Durational performance, 25 letters, wood structures, pewter, sound, modified pigment prints on cotton paper and voile, satin silk costume, speaker system.
—Do you remember the time when our lips first met in a caress? It was so heartfelt and profound, as it can only be between two lovers.

Twenty-five love letters from the beginning of the 20th century, many of them signed with “I Kiss Your Eyes”, are read out loud—one at a time, three days per week—as a durational performance at Bonniers Konsthall. The letters were sent from Fabrikören, a factory owner, artist and pewterer, to Matrosen, a factory worker and sailor who emigrated to America. Over the course of one year, Fabrikören wrote endlessly, full of hope, longing and despair, pleading for redemption. The language is seductively beautiful and seeks to both imagine a shared future with and possess Matrosen. Parts of the correspondence were used as evidence in a 1907 court case in which Fabrikören was charged with ‘fornication against nature’. He was convicted, and given a harsh sentence. The case led to a public debate around the law on homosexuality in Sweden and can be seen as an early sign of attitudes changing. 

Inside a wooden structure, which reflects the floorplan and the cardinal points of a room in Fabrikören’s Stockholm apartment, hangs a large textile print based upon a faded photograph of the room and two altered images from his private collection. For each reading, the performers deliver a casting ritual with pewter, before leaving both the letter and a pewter figure on one of the tables placed outside the room structure. The ritual focusses on neither the court case nor the biography of the protagonist. Instead, a new narrative emerges in the present, through the intimacy of the letters and the collective reading ritual whose voices possess the entire building. In the form of recurring public announcements, I Kiss Your Eyes (A Year in Eight Weeks) unfolds a history that is passionate but not heroic, about the complexity of love under controlling social mechanisms.


Durational performance with staff at Bonniers Konsthall, 2024. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.
Kimono, pigment print on silk satin. Installation view, Bonniers Konsthall, 2024. In the back three prints from Illustrations for Fourteen Poems from C.P. Cavafy, David Hockney, 1966. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.
Installation view, Bonniers Konsthall, 2024. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.
Durational performance with staff at Bonniers Konsthall, 2024. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.
The Sailor, modified pigment print on cotton.
Original archive photo, National Library of Sweden.
In the back: Silence=Death, David Wojnarowicz, 1989. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.
(SIbel), durational performance with staff at Bonniers Konsthall, 2024. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.
(Erik), durational performance with staff at Bonniers Konsthall, 2024. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.
The Sailor and The Trampoline, modified pigment prints on cotton and transparent paper. Installation view,  Bonniers Konsthall, 2024. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.
The first day of the exhibition, when the letters have not yet been performed and the 25 tables are empty. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.
The last day of the exhibition, when all the letters have been performed and the 25 tables are full. Photo: Mike Karlsson Lundgren.

Performers: Staff at Bonniers Konsthall. Script: Conny Karlsson Lundgren. Script Editor: Kristofer Folkhammar. Costume: Emma Borgström. Sound: [inaudible] (Amanda Lindbom Edwall & Johan Sundell). 

Commissioned by Bonniers Konsthall for the exhibition I Kiss Your Eyes. Original letters and archive photos, National Library of Sweden.Exhibitions: Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm SE.

 ©MMXIV Conny Karlsson Lundgren