They were, those people, a kind of solution

The project They were, those people, a kind of solution is funded through European Union’s Creative Europe program.

Fuel to the Fire

Natascha Sadr Haghighian
Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm
20/10/2016 – 15/1/2016

Natascha Sadr Haghighian’s new installation Fuel to the Fire raises topical issues like the militarization of the police, images as testimonies, and institutionalized racism and violence. Patio heaters and fleece blankets are important elements in the exhibition space. Usually associated with outdoor seating, they function in Sadr Haghighian’s work as markers of enclosure or exclusion and appear in various roles in the installation. In one area, the blankets carry screen-printed images of incidents of police violence that have evoked significant protests. As part of The Eros Effect: Art, Solidarity Movements and the Struggle for Social Justice.

Particularly highlighted in Fuel to the Fire is what happened in the Stockholm suburb of Husby on a night in May 2013 when Lenine Relvas-Martins, a 69-year-old resident of Husby, was shot by Piketen police (SWAT police)
in his own apartment. Neighbors were present and waited out a crucial moment in which Relvas-Martins’s dead body was carried out in a body bag, covered by a red fleece blanket adorned with a heart. The police had claimed in their report that he was injured during the incident and taken to a hospital. The images taken by neighbors and freelance journalist Björn Lockström proved that they tried to cover up the death, and the police were forced to “correct” their report. The incident caused protests in Husby and resulted in significant uprisings in many major cities in Sweden. Nobody was held responsible for the fatal shooting, nor was it discussed in the mainstream media in the direct aftermath of the incident. Instead, the media reported mainly on car fires and youth violence, furthering a stigmatized image of the northern suburbs of Stockholm.

Fuel to the Fire traces the Piketen police, the Swedish version of the SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) police, back to its beginnings in the United States. SWAT was founded in Los Angeles in the late 1960s after
the Watts rebellion and first used during a raid against the Black Panther Party of Self-Defense. The story of the emergence of SWAT police proves the intimate relation between police militarization, social segregation, and institutional racism.

Sadr Haghighian’s (Berlin/Tehran) research-based practice covers a range of artistic methods and techniques, including video, performance, and installations.