Performance: I Kiss Your Eyes (A Year in Eight Weeks)

25 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 work is activated every week:

Wednesdays, 6 pm*
Fridays, 2 pm
Saturdays, 3 pm

*On Wednesday, March 6, and April 3, the reading will take place at 4 pm.

Included in the entrance ticket. No pre-registration is required.

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 possess and imagine a shared future with Matrosen. Parts of the correspondence were used as evidence in a 1907 court case in which Fabrikören was charged with ‘fornication against nature’, and sentenced to a harsh punishment. 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 delivers 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.

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

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

Commissioned by Bonniers Konsthall for the exhibition I Kiss Your Eyes. 

Image: I Kiss Your Eyes: The Sailor, modified pigment print on cotton paper. Archive photo, National Library of Sweden