Eldsoppa, Vårby gård [October, 2021]

Eldsoppa. Foto: Erik Sjödin

Vårby gård
Lördag 9/10 kl. 14.00 – kl. 19.00

Vi samlas på Vårby gårds bibliotek för ett kort samtal om hur böcker ingår i konstnären Erik Sjödins arbete. Sedan går vi upp på närbelägna Korpberget för eldsoppa och samtal om människans långa och komplexa relation till eld.

Från och med måndag 4/10 till lördag 9/10 finns en kastrull med böcker på Vårby gårds bibliotek. Böckerna i kastrullen belyser människans långa och komplexa relation till eld och kan lånas för att läsas på biblioteket och sedan lämnas tillbaka i kastrullen.

För anmälan till eldsoppan, mejla till: kristina.lindemann@huddinge.se

Eldsoppan är en del av Friluftsliv med Fullersta gård där Konstnärerna Juanma González, Susan Whitlow och Erik Sjödin bjuder in till utflykter i konstens anda i anslutning till olika delar av Huddingeleden.

Tillsammans med konstnären Erik Sjödin besöker vi två naturreservat i anslutning till Huddingeleden. I dessa andningshål kommer vi laga en varm och stark soppa kokad över eld med i huvudsak röda, orangea och gula ingredienser. Denna ”Eldsoppa” blir utgångspunkten för att prata om den röra mänskligheten ser ut att ha försatt sig i genom sitt intensiva användande av eld.

Samtalet mellan Erik Sjödin och alla deltagare kommer kretsa kring människans långa och komplexa relation till eld och idén om Pyrocen. Begreppet föreslår att det är användandet och kontrollerandet av eld som är den mest påtagliga av människans aktiviteter och att vi nu lever i en “eldens tidsålder” där eldens påverkan kan jämföras med isens under tidigare istider.


Honeybee Standard Brain at Tomma rum [August, 2021]

Explorative rendering of the Honeybee Standard Brain

[Explorative rendering of the Honeybee Standard Brain. Tomma rum, Vännersta 2021.]

The Honeybee Standard Brain (see explorative rendering above) is a three-dimensional atlas of a honeybee brain assembled by the Menzel Neurobiology group at Frie Universität Berlin based on images of bee brains taken with confocal microscope. It serves as a tool for comparing shapes and structures of bee brains and relating the brain to functional properties.

The honeybee brain is smaller than one cubic millimeters and has about 950 000 neurons. The human brain, in comparison, has almost one hundred thousand times more neurons (about 85 billion) and is more than one million times larger (about 1200 cm3). Despite its minuscule brain size the honey bee exhibits complex and rich social and individual behaviour. There is a complex division of labor in the hive and individual honey bees vary dramatically in their behaviour due to genetic, developmental, and physiological differences. Bees master different forms of learning including categorisation, contextual learning and rule abstraction and exhibit a richness of experience-dependent behaviour.

The honeybee has been subjected to a variety of behavioural studies in areas such as navigation, social organisation, and learning and is considered to have great potential as a model for exploring interactions between environment, behaviour and brain structure. Although understanding how experiences are represented in brains and shape future responses is a major challenge in behaviour studies researchers in animal cognition believe that there is a fair chance to understand complex behaviour in bees, and to identify neurobiology underlying such behaviour.

While nowhere near a complete overview of what is known about what goes on in the bee brain, a sample of scientific research papers on neuroscience and cognition related to bees gives some indication of the honeybee brain’s complexity:

– Olfactory (smell) stimuli are first processed in the antennal lobe, and then transferred to the mushroom body and lateral horn in the bee brain. Studies show that honeybees can perform elemental learning by associating odour with a reward signal even after damage to the pathways to the mushroom bodies. Further, research also show that bees might learn to solve positive patterning tasks in addition to elemental learning and olfactory generalisation without the contribution of the mushroom bodies. However, the mushroom bodies may be required for negative patterning. An example of positive patterning in the case of bees would be that bees learns that two different odours when presented together means a reward of sucrose solution. Negative patterning would mean that when one of two odours is available, but not both at the same time, then that means a sucrose reward.

– High concentrations of octopamine, dopamine, serotonin and tyramine, exist in bees nervous systems and function as neurotransmitters, neuromodulators and neurohormones. Dopamine and serotonin are present in high concentrations in the bee brain, whereas octopamine and tyramine are less abundant. Octopamine generally has an arousing effect and leads to higher sensitivity for sensory inputs, better learning performance and increased foraging behaviour. Tyramine has been suggested to act antagonistically to octopamine, but only few experimental data are available for this amine. Dopamine and serotonin often have antagonistic or inhibitory effects as compared to octopamine. When bees are under stress the brain levels of octopamine and dopamine are depressed, which appear to affect worker bees sense of reward when foraging, making them fly slower between the hive and a food source. The presence of large predators elicits the release of an alarm pheromone, carried by the bees’ stinger, which alerts and recruits more defenders to organize a collective attack. The alarm pheromone increases serotonin levels in the bee brain, thereby lowering the stinging threshold of bees exposed to the pheromone.

– Honey bee queens produce a sophisticated array of pheromones that influence both the behaviour and the physiology of their nest mates. Most striking its the effect of queen mandibular pheromone, a chemical blend that induces young workers to feed and groom the queen and primes bees to perform colony-related tasks. Studies reveal that queen mandibular pheromone has profound effects on dopamine pathways in the brain and that these pathways play a central role in behavioural regulation and motor control. However there is a substantial variation in worker bees attraction to queen mandibular pheromone among individuals, and this variation is linked with specific differences in physiology and brain gene expression patterns.

– Neuronal signalling demands a high rate of energy consumption. Brain energy metabolism in bees powers information processing and behaviour in bees. When faced with limiting food resources, it seems that bees invest in their heads at cost of body size. However, this is not reflected in brain development. When fed more bees heads get bigger but not their brains. Recent research also suggests that there is a relationship between aggressive behaviour and energetics. When bees are aggravated they reduce their brain metabolism, the reason for this is not yet clear, but it is possible that aggravated bees, unlike mammals, reduce their neural activity in order to divert resources to muscles.

– Caffeine, which Coffea and Citrus plants use as a herbicide and insecticide, enhances bees memory of reward, and makes them more likely to remember a learned floral scent. Kenyon cells in the mushroom bodies of the bee brain integrate sensory input during associative learning and are involved in memory formation. Researchers have found that caffeine increase the excitability of the Kenyon cells.

– Nicotine, which is a natural herbivore defence toxin in plants, facilities olfactory (smell) learning in bees. Researchers have found four nicotinic receptors in the honeybee brain which are expressed in different brain regions, including the antennal lobes, which are the first relay of olfactory information from the bees antennae.

– Honeybees use celestial cues such as polarized light as a compass reference, and image movement across the retina to measure distance in order to navigate. Researchers believe they have found a complete circuit for path integration and steering in bees central complex.

– Attention allows animals to respond selectively to competing stimuli, enabling som stimuli to evoke a behavioural response while others are ignored. How brains does this remains unknown, although it is increasingly evident that even animals with the smallest brain display this capacity. When bees are presented with competing visual objects brain activity increases in the optic lobes and priced behavioural choices; this suggest that bees attention-like processes are pushed far out in the sensory periphery of the brain.

– Valence encoding is an important behavioural trait that enables individuals to distinguish between positive and negative situations. In bees neural activation patterns are distributed across distinct parts of the brain, suggesting that discrete circuits encode positive or negative stimuli. Researchers have found that the valance of social interactions is represented by distinct anatomical subregions of the bee brains mushroom bodies.

– Honeybees brain structure is plastic and responds to new experiences and environmental changes long after brain development is complete. Honeybees express pronounced age dependent specialisation when switching from various indoor duties to foraging outside the hive, which is accompanied by volume and neuronal changes in the brain and increased messenger RNA for genes in the brain. For example, the mushroom bodies are regions of the central brain important for sensory integration and learning. Their volume is influenced by behaviour and environment throughout a bees life, and become larger in bees who spend time foraging outside of the hive than in nurse bees who only spend time inside the hive. The complexity of neurons in the mushroom bodies of honeybee brains increases as a function of age, but foraging experience promotes additional neuronal branching and growth. A variety of proteins are expressed to different degree in the brains of nursing bees and foraging bees and are believed to be related to behaviour changes in bees.

– Experiences during early adulthood shapes the learning capacities and the number of synaptic boutons which facilities connections between neurons. Specifically, olfactory (smell) learning is impaired in bees who doesn’t experience the rich in hive environment during maturation. When bees are artificially reared the mushroom bodies of their brains are smaller than bees brought up in a hive, however their total brain size is the same and they show the same elemental learning abilities as in-hive reared bees. The mushroom bodies, and more specifically the lateral calyces, are smaller at emergence in artificially-reared bees compared to the in hive control. This may impair higher order cognitive functions, such as non-elemental learning tasks, which do not become evident when bees are faced with simple associated learning tasks.

– When bees are exposed to an intruder it leads to an immediate attack. It also leads to long-term changes in behaviour in response to a second intruder, and increases the probability of responding more aggressively to another intrusion. This can be correlated to expressions of genes in the honey bee brain, which suggest that social challenges temporarily change the neurogenomic state in bees brains and is likely to influence future behaviour.

– Young adult honey bees work inside the beehive “nursing” brood around the clock with no circadian rhythms while older bees forage for nectar and pollen outside with strong circadian rhythms. At the molecular level, findings suggest a link between honey bee foraging behaviour and up regulation of period messaging RNA in the brain. Foragers are the only behavioural group that consistently have high average daily levels. In addition, period messaging RNA levels vary in young bees dependent on their social environments. Taken together, these results suggest that social factors influence period messaging RNA expression in the bee brain and the regulation of clock genes and circadian rhythms.

Download pdf with references.


Gemenskapspraktik [May, 2021]

Gemenskapspraktik (Community Practice) is an art- and research practice which is concerned with understanding and developing relationships between humans and other beings and phenomena.

The name “Gemenskapspraktik” is Swedish and derived from the words “gemenskap” (community) and “praktik” (practice). It originates from Gemenskapstjänster (Community Services) which was a project at Marabouparken Konsthall in 2018. Gemenskapstjänster referenced “gemenskap” as in communities of humans and nonhumans and “tjänster”, as in pollination services. Gemenskapspraktik keeps community but replaces services with “practice”.

In Swedish gemenskap is the closest equivalent to community, but gemenskap puts more emphasis on the feeling of being together rather than the fact of being together. Praktik is similar to practice. It can mean both to do something and to learn something.


Settlers / Beekeeping in Iceland [May, 2021]

[Interviews with beekeepers and footage of apiaries in Iceland, summer 2017.]


[Full interview with Pat in Bjarnarfjörður, Iceland 2017. Part one focuses on experiences and practicalities of beekeeping on Iceland and part two on beekeeping and ecology on Iceland.]



In many parts of Iceland it seems like it is almost impossible to make honey bees thrive for longer periods. The weather is just too harsh and there is not enough flowering plants. Feeding the bees with more sugar could make up for the lack of flowers, but if all the bees eat is imported sugar then the question is if it wouldn’t be better to just import honey instead. In other parts of Iceland, where the climate is milder, beekeeping is working out better. There are beekeepers who get up to 60kg of honey from a hive, which is a good harvest.

People on Iceland have been attempting beekeeping with more or less success from at least the 1940’s but more organised beekeeping didn’t start until the late 1990’s. Today the Icelandic Bee Association keeps track of 100-150 hives on Iceland. There is even a beekeeper who has started to breed queens. However, Icelandic beekeepers are still dependant on importing bees. The bees are imported from Åland, an island in the Baltic sea, between Sweden and Finland. Åland has been lucky and, because of its relative isolation, not been subjected to varroa and other bee diseases. The idea is that by bringing the bees from Åland these diseases can be avoided on Iceland too. So far it has worked out well.

If bumble bees, solitary bees and other wild pollinators are subjected to competition from honey bees is not particularly researched. However, it has been shown that there can be competition where there is a limited amount of flowering plants [1]. If beekeeping becomes more popular then perhaps there is a risk that honey bees outcompete some of the relatively few native pollinators on Iceland [2]. On the other hand, given the relatively few locations on Iceland that really are suitable for beekeeping, it is not likely that beekeeping will become ubiquitous anytime soon. More beekeeping would likely go together with changes in the flora and climate. In any case honey bees are not the biggest threat to wild pollinators on Iceland. A number of Iceland’s pollinators, including the native heath bumblebee, are already at risk of severe population declines if the invasive lupines that were introduced on Iceland in the 1940’s to combat soil erosions continues to replace native flowering plants [3]. This summer (2017) a new shipment with around seventy bee colonies arrived by airplane to Iceland from Åland. If these bees survive and reproduce it could mean that beekeeping is established in Iceland. If they don’t it will be one of several attempts to import bees that have not succeeded in creating a sustainable honeybee population in Iceland.

[1] Competition between managed honeybees and wild bumblebees depends on landscape context, Lina Herbertsson et al 2016.

[2] A quick search at The National and University Library of Iceland in Reykjavik revealed six pollinators on Iceland: Blomsveifa Syrphus torvus, Letursveifa Sphaerophoria scripta, Randasveifa Helophilus pendulus, Húshumla Bombus lucorum, Lodsveifa Eristalis intricaria, and finally the heath bumblebee (Móhumla Bombus jonellus), which is the only native bee on Iceland. Probably there are more than these on Iceland, but not that many.

[3] Pollinator diversity in native heath and alien Nootka lupine stands in Iceland, Jonathan Willow 2015.


Non Flowers [April, 2021]

[Non Flowers, Publication by Thomas Pausz 2021]

Non Flowers is a limited edition book designed by Thomas Pausz and Sam Rees and riso printed in Iceland. Released at Interspecies Futures (IF), an artists books exhibition curated by Oscar Salguero at Center For Books Art, New York, April 16 – June 26 2021, and part of the Interspecies Library at Softcore NYC. Contributors include Erik Sjödin, Dr.Shannon Olsson, Ségolène Guinard and Vikram Pradhan.

Interspecies Futures [IF] is the first survey of bookworks by leading international practitioners from the contemporary fields of bio-art and speculative design who have turned to the book as a tool for the proposal of alternative human-nonhuman scenarios.

Informed by methods from conceptual art, posthumanism, biotechnology, and emerging interfaces, these artists produce documents that defy the borders between fiction and reality. In their hands field guides, lost diaries, investigative dossiers, lab journals, corporate catalogues become portals into multiple interspecies possibilities.


Rocket Stove at KF Huset [November, 2020]

Rocket Stove construction at KF Huset. Photo: Erik Sjödin.

[Improvised Rocket Stove Construction at KF Huset in Klöse]

In October 2020 Konstfrämjandet in Västerbotten and KF Huset invited artist and researcher Erik Sjödin to KF Huset in Klöse, Nordmalings, to cook fire soup, experiment with stoves and fireplaces, and talk about humans long and complex relationship to fire.

On the second day of the two day workshop a rocket stove was improvised from scrap material such as old metal buckets and ventilation-pipe. The idea with the improvised rocket stove was to explore the concept of integrating a wood fired stove for cooking next to the existing fire place. A wood fired stove can provide for additional outdoor cooking possibilities (such as boiling food), be fun to use, and useful in the event of a power outage. Eventually KF Huset might build a more permanent and thought through fireplace and outdoor kitchen at the site and the improvised rocket stove works as a pre-study that provides experiences useful in that process.

The stove was built as close as possible to dimensions recommended in the “Rocket Stove Design Guide” by Approvecho Research Center. The space between the stove pipe and the bucket was filled with gravel rather than insulating material such as perlite, which is not optimal in terms of efficiency, but the stove works and is very sturdy.

Rocket Stove at KF Huset. Photo: Erik Sjödin.

[Rocket Stove at KF Huset in Klöse.]


Naturen tar över – Utställningen [July, 2020]

Österängens öppna utekök. Foto: Österängens konsthall / Marcus Gyllborg.

[Österängens öppna utekök. Foto: Österängens konsthall / Marcus Gyllborg.]

Gemenskapspraktik deltar i “Naturen tar över – Utställningen” på Österängens Konsthall med material relaterat till projektet “Österängens öppna utekök“.

”Naturen tar över över” är ett projekt vars syfte är att undersöka om konstnärliga gestaltningar kan bidra till ökad biologisk mångfald i detaljplanerade områden. Antingen direkt – eller genom att kommentera eller ­belysa olika aspekter av artrikedom och diversitet.

Projektet vill också hitta sätt att vidga ­begreppet offentlig konst så att även tillfälliga eller semipermanenta uttryck kan representeras.

Sju svenska och internationellt verksamma ­konstnärer eller konstnärsgrupper kommer ­under sommaren 2020 att uppföra sinsemellan helt ­olika verk på området. “Naturen tar över – Utställningen” är en möjlighet för dig som besökare att fördjupa dig i konstnärernas gestaltningar och praktik.

Österängens öppna utekök. Foto: Österängens konsthall / Marcus Gyllborg.

[Österängens öppna utekök. Foto: Österängens konsthall / Marcus Gyllborg.]

Medverkande: Jan Carleklev, Jens Evaldsson, Gemenskapspraktik, Nonhuman Nonsense, SymbioLab, Katarina Vallbo, Sissi Westerberg.

Naturen tar över är ett samarbete mellan Österängens Konsthall och Biosfärområde Östra Vätterbranterna och finansieras av Statens Konstråd och Vätterhem.

Utställningen öppnar fredag 23 juni kl. 11.00 och pågår till 23 augusti.
På grund av rådande pandemi har vi en besöksrestriktion på 10 besökare åt gången.

Tänk på att inte besöka utställningen om du är sjuk!


The Rocket Stove / Grill at ÖÖUK [June, 2020]

[The rocket stove / grill at ÖÖUK.]

The idea with the stove in Österängens Öppna Utekök (Österängen’s Open Outdoor Kitchen) is to complement a common public outdoor grill solution with a wood fired rocket stove for expanded cooking possibilities and relatively safe and cosy interaction with fire.

Food can be cooked on the stove by placing a cooking pot or pan on top of the stove pipe and feeding the fire in the stove with wood sticks through the horisontal part of the L-shaped stove pipe. The grill is used just as a regular grill by putting charcoal on top of the gravel in the concrete pipe and then grilling the food on top of the grate.

[The rocket stove pipe in ÖÖUK.]

The rocket stove is welded from mild steel piping following instructions from the “Rocket Stove Design Guide” by Approvecho Research Center, with some slight modifications to accommodate this particular context.

A stove is always a balance between optimal heat transfer, usability and cost. In this case the horisontal part of the L-shaped stovepipe is slightly longer and wider in diameter than what’s ideal for optimal combustion. However, this allows for better placement of the cooking pot on top of the stove and easier feeding of fire wood. Also the stove pipe is insulated with regular gravel, and not f.ex. vermiculite which would’ve provide better heat retention in the pipe but required a more complicated integration of the stove in the grill.

The stove is integrated with the grill through a hole drilled through the concrete piping and secured with outdoor and heat safe cement plaster and the gravel that is filled up around the stove in the concrete pipe. On top of the concrete pipe is a grill grate cut to fit from non-galvanised expanded metal. The grate and a cooking pot or pan placed on it is kept at the right distance from the top of the stove pipe by distances welded onto the stove.

[Grilling vegetarian sausages and cooking potatoes at ÖÖUK.]

In practice the stove works very well and is able to bring a pot of potatoes as seen on the photo above to the boil in around 10 minutes.