How do we choose to remember our own history, and what can we learn from those choices? Some elements of Sweden’s past are completely unknown to a majority of people. Today, not many Swedes know that Sweden colonized the West-Indian island of St. Barthélemy, between 1784-1878.
The Colony is a project that aims to tell part of the story of our forgotten history, to draw parallels to our world today and thereby help create an awareness that not everything is told in the history books. The intention is to use the project’s historical perspective to ignite questions and discussions about our contemporary, multicultural society and to inspire to an open discussion about identity, culture and history. The story about S:t Barthélemy is exciting and exotic and the project aim is to inspire discussions about current events in relation to preconceptions of cultural identity. The bringing together of historic fact, imagination and exotica, is aimed at preparing the way for new ways of looking at life today.
During the late summer of 2007, life will be breathed back into the former Swedish colony St. Barthélemy; not in the West Indies, but on a small island in the bay of Djurgårdsbrunn, next to the Skansen open air museum in central Stockholm. On this island, a copy of a historical house from St. Barthélemy will be erected and furnished. The project is inspired by Skansen´s ideas of presenting history in historic representational environments and houses and bringing the environments to life through the use of hosts. The colonial house will be inhabited by a professional host in period costume playing the role of and telling the story about the life of Ms. Selma Milander. Selma was the last Swede to live on the island and was a very interesting and colorful person.
The replica house from St. Barthélemy is the project base, on which the programme and activities rests. This includes debates and discussions which will deepen the questions arising and widening the concepts. A screen exhibition in the proximity of the island will tell the story about S:t Barthélemy and its history, and provide information about the project and its collaborators.
The programme and activities will take place on the island itself and at other venues in Stockholm, such as art gallery Candyland. Daytime, the house will be open to visitors and manned by hosts in period costumes telling the story about St. Barthélemy and its history. The hosts will also talk about issues dealing with contemporary ideas about culture and identity which will open up for new ideas and attitudes towards both our history and to life today. Invited guests will also participate on the island and contribute with crafts, music, talks and workshops.
The Colony website (www.kolonin.com) will be evolving and function as part of the activities in the programme. During the exhibition period the website will function as an inter active pin board where visitors can access information about the programme and also make personal comments about the project. The programme and activities will be in constant development throughout the project week. Please contact the project leaders for more information regarding this.