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Our Story (2016)

Installation: sound x2 (5:51 min) and video (23:41 min), borrowed objects from archives and collections from Västerbotten Museum

Maja Beskow (1877-1964) and Juliana (Julia) Byström (1857-1946), both teachers, lived together for almost 40 years during the first half of the 20th century. Maja is best known for being the first woman to be employed as a teacher at Umeå secondary grammar school, but she was also a skilled illustrator, amateur photographer and active in social clubs as well as one of the founders of the sailor's home in Holmsund. Julia also had one of the most senior positions then available to women at Umeå's elementary school teachers' training college and she was also active in Swedish women's missionary association where she met Maja in 1905. As their home was donated to Västerbottens museum after Maja’s death, we know quite a bit about these women. Stacks of letters, diaries, photographs, sketches and paintings remain for posterity. Although, relatively few letters sent between the two women remain, making it difficult to establish the nature of their relationship. However, Julia left her entire inheritance to Maja and they lie buried in the same grave in the western cemetery in Umeå.

The work consists of a replica of Maja Beskow and Julia Byströms living room where two audio tracks are played for the visitors - one in the sofa and one in the right armchair - a fantasy about their first rendezvous. A video is also shown in the installation in which three queer couples living in Umeå talk about their first date.

The project was commissioned by Konstfrämjandet Västerbotten and Västerbottens museum as a part of the project The white house.

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