Nomadic Kiln Group, Seed Potato Horse and Smiling Hooves, collectively drawn sketch, clay wheat slip on glass.
The exhibition takes its inspiration from the meditation room installed at United Nations Headquarters in New York in 1952, which UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld made his own, personal project, completing it with a group of artists and craftspeople in 1957. Regel 62 at Sinne is a spatial study and consists of three site-specific sets of works that communicate with each other, and which in one way or another are linked to the task that – in the shadow of the Cold War – was begun in the ’50s and focussed on peace and the future. The main materials in the exhibition are clay, yarn and sound. The artists are Moa Cederberg, Mikko Kuorinki and Nomadic Kiln Group (Monika Czyżyk, Elina Vainio & Eero Yli-Vakkuri).
In the UN General Assembly Rules of procedure, Rule 62 states that sessions of the General Assembly will open and close with an invitation to a minute of silent prayer or meditation – a procedure that is still followed today. Already in the 40’s, Trygve Lie – first UN Secretary-General – had approved a room dedicated to silence and meditation to be installed in the UN’s temporary Headquarters at Lake Success, Long Island NY. When designing the new Headquarters, it was also laid down that the building should include “A Room of Quiet”. But there were no architectural plans for the room, instead, one of the existing, unallocated rooms in the visitors’ lobby of the General Assembly Building was chosen. The work was done quickly and was more temporary in nature. In comparison with the rest of the finished building this was not to the room’s advantage. Nevertheless, it met with a warm reception both inside and outside the organization, confirming that there really was a need for a room of this type.
Dag Hammarskjöld – second UN Secretary-General – understood the importance of the meditation room and wanted to make it the centre of the UN. Consequently, he embarked on renovations that remodelled it into its final, august form. He did so in close collaboration with the Laymen’s Movement, which was active in giving UN representatives spiritual guidance. A key part of the process was seeing the room as an important and necessary element of the work done in the building. The UN is a workplace where humanity’s most tragic sides and actions are dealt with, and solutions sought. Hammarskjöld, who was interested in the spiritual and conversant with the visual arts, philosophy and poetry, chose to exclude any symbols or signs that could be associated with religions. Instead, he sought an expression and an atmosphere that would help everyone to find stillness and to get in touch with their inner void. He believed people could find strength there for political resolve.
The finished room was made using a considered, spare, modernist approach, and it is still there at UN Headquarters in NYC. It is V-shaped, so that it tapers inwards. At the far end is an abstract fresco by the Swedish artist Bo Beskow, in the middle of the room is a 6-ton black block of Swedish iron ore, and on the floor at the entrance is a rug made by the Swedish textile artist Edna Martin. Arranged on the rug, which extends a little into the room, are benches designed by Carl Malmsten.
In today’s global political situation, it feels apt to turn our gaze back in time to the creation of precisely this meditation room, which serves as a tool in our quest for consensus and vision from a global perspective. The Regel 62 exhibition at Sinne is an attempt to remind people about silence and stillness, and to look at our spiritual resources, at how we can meditate and find pathways. This theme has served as a point of entry to a dialogue with the participating artists, from whom work ideas have then emerged. The intention has been to unwrap and expose the simple, pure, and occasionally primitive. We have looked at materials, techniques, crafts and processes that sustain the meditative. The intention is not to turn the gallery into an ecumenical space as such, but to create an exhibition that captures and reflects the energy that Hammarskjöld set in motion.