Title: The Spirit of Gnosjö

Media: interventions, conversations and multi channel video installation


Project Summary: 

My idea is to make a symbolic approach to how an immaterial thing as the called "spirit of Gnosjö" embodies and it is embodied in material creations and in a local sociocultural identity. I am also interested in how the "spirit of Gnosjö" can be canalized as a distinctive tool of competitiveness (in economy) or as a way of solidarity (I was even invited to work as volunteer with the Gnosjö Hjälper team for a short time in 2020).

During my research time I will need to make interviews and to establish dialogue with people from the town about their dreams when they sleep at night. I am interested in linking images of labour and of industrial past and present with oneiric perspectives that could reverberate unconscious collective archetypes. Thus, I want to reflect on the relation of people with the creation of images (their dreams and my artistic video images) and the action of the body (the human body or its technological extensions).

Crossing conceptual video art, visual anthropology, and performative aesthetics (of human beings and machines), I want to portray some connections and/or tensions between what it is individual and collective, private and public, exceptional and systematic, ephemeral and continuous, particular and universal. I intend that new meanings could appear by the framing, by the edition and by a formal strategy of split-screen (where image A + image B are not equal to meaning AB, but rather produces something new, AB + C).

In terms of presentation, I want to create different videos for mu monitors in order to be seen in places like home/shop windows, and people could see it from the street. It would be interesting to show it as well in a single or in various indoor locations in a special event (for instance in the library, in a factory, in the town hall and/or in Gnosjö Hjälper). Maybe, it could be exhibited as well on a website connected with Gnosjö people (for instance in the town council website, in the library one or in an online local newspaper)/ RM


My artistic practice is being developed around the transformative power of art and questions about the construction of identity and meaning in a certain social, economical, political or cultural context. For Gnosjö, I'm interested in working around real daily situations which I could frame in a way that new meanings could appear. I want to portray and to reflect on the relation of people with work and creation, through its tensions between the individual and the collective, the private and public, the exception and the system, the ephemeral and the continuous, the linear and the non-linear.

- Rui Mourão


When I was in Gnosjö for one week, I put my artistic research focus on the relation of the community with labour.

On one hand, from the perspective of the "artist as ethnographer", I just met, talked, and observed different people in town (for example at the library, in factories, in a few homes or in local shops), trying to understand their work mindset and the spread belief in an innovative, entrepreneur, and creative identity (something that I observed even in charity action). On the other hand, I researched Gnosjö particular workshop archaeology. For that, I visited several places with traces of Gnosjö's industrial past: Hylténs and Gåröström Museum, Marieholm Ironworks, and Töllstorp (where I filmed and even had a stimulating guided visit to its workshops with water wheels still spinning).

I was even interested in how the community performs past labour in the Present. In that sense, I had the opportunity to be in an important local event at night with free open access and a significant number of visits by the local community, that annually remembers and nostalgically reenacts how industrial workshops used to work in 18th/19th centuries and onwards. In search of contrasts in the same labour axis, I visited and filmed as well a modern factory — Automatsvarvning (trans. automatic precision turning) — working with avant-guard technologies. I found very interesting how machines embodied the Gnosjö labour spirit with their intense hi-tech performativity. /RM

The Spirit of Gnosjö
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The Spirit of Gnosjö (eng) >>>

Rui Mourão (1977, Lisbon) studied Arts (UAB and CECC, Barcelona; Maumaus, Lisbon; and Malmö Art Academy, Sweden). He has a Postgraduate in Digital Visual Cultures and a Master in Anthropology (ISCTE, Lisbon). He is doing a PhD in Artistic Studies (Nova University, Lisbon). He was selected to LOOP - Video Art Festival (Barcelona, 2007+08) and to FUSO - Video Art International Annual of Lisbon (where he received the Audience Award, 2010). Mourão presented a film at the Portuguese Cinematheque (nominee for Best Documentary in QueerLisboa Cinema Festival, 2013). He won the APA (Portuguese Anthropological Association) Prize for best Visual Essay (2019). He did more than 50 exhibitions/videoscreenings in 16 countries, in places such as: National Museum of Contemporary Art - Chiado Museum (Lisbon), Iklectik (London), Spaces (Cleveland), Whitworth Art Gallery (Manchester), Galpão Vídeo Brasil (São Paulo), National Center for Contemporary Arts (Moscow), Künstlerhaus Bethanien (Berlin), Palazzo Albrizzi (Venice), BTM (Budapest), National Museum of Ethnology (Lisbon)
Realisation of project:
TBD, 2020
Artist Talk: November 21, 2019 at 5.30 pm at the library, as part of ArtTalks-series
Research stay in Gnosjö: November 18 - 25, 2019
  • Industrial archaeology

With support from: Region Jönköpings län with Mullsjö, Gnosjö, Tranås and Värnamo municipalities.     Curator: Anna Viola Hallberg    Contact: curator @