Ola’s Garden


2022
HD video, 5 mins (loop), plexiglass, engraved brass plaques. The work is part of the Ystad Art Museum collection.
Chamaecyparis Spach. Thuja Cypress. Forms irregular pyramids, which retain their beautiful green color throughout the winter.

The installation revolves around a garden which began to be constructed in the 1920s by Ola Nilsson in a small village in South of Sweden. Ola left his work as a law clerk, returned home to the family farm and created a quaint refuge in the Scanian plains. He tended this magical haven along with his sisters and his beloved gardener. The garden was designed with a large pond surrounded by walls of evergreen yew, cypress, and rhododendrons, creating shady labyrinthine paths. The haven became Ola’s life’s work. It was a well-known attraction until one summer morning in July, just before he was to turn 80 years old, when he ended his life in the pond. 

Karlsson Lundgren’s filmed images from the site depict a dusky oasis in its July vestments, with densely-packed boxwood, hydrangeas, and water lilies. The film goes backwards from darkness to light—from dusk to morning sunlight—and returns to darkness when it begins again. A circular time, with no beginning or end. The installation includes fifteen brass memorial plaques hanging throughout the museum’s collection and becomes an abstract map over the site carrying references to the taxonomy of botanical gardens. They reflect the place as a queer sanctuary formed as much by toil and hard work as by longing and desire.


Ola’s Garden. Installation view, Ystad Art Museum, 2022. Photo: Mike Karlsson Lundgren
Ola’s Garden. Installation view, Bonniers Konsthall, 2024. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger
Ola’s Garden (Plaques). Installation view, Bonniers Konsthall, 2024. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.
Ola’s Garden (Plaques). Installation view, Bonniers Konsthall, 2024. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.
Ola’s Garden, film stills. Cinematography: Conny Karlsson Lundgren
Ola’s Garden. 1 min excerpt, HD 5'05", sound. Cinematography: Conny Karlsson Lundgren.
Ola’s Garden (Plaques). Installation view, Ystad Art Museum, 2022. Photo: Mike Karlsson Lundgren.
Ola’s Garden (Plaques). Installation view, Ystad Art Museum, 2022. Photo: Mike Karlsson Lundgren

Ola’s Garden was commissioned by Ystad Art Museum and the exhibition Traces of Desire (together with Benny Nemer), curated by Albin Hillervik. 
Exhibitions: Ystad Art Museum, Ystad SE. Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm SE.
 ©MMXIV Conny Karlsson Lundgren