Set in 2054 ‘Helga was here’ presents the recollections of three Moving Museum Istanbul artists, hinting at technological, social, and ecological changes that have occurred in the years since. A crutch-bearing Wretman hosts the programme, interviewing ‘the vibrant artists and people that [she] came across in Istanbul forty years ago,’ each bringing their unique perspective and personality to their answer.
Elmas Deniz is poetic in her responses, seeing her project – which tracked a river now no longer running above-ground – as prescient of an ecological disaster that followed it. The jetset artist and musician Shevde Aric’s project – creating an alternative calendar to the working week – similarly anticipated a movement away from the once-romanticized trend of working from home. Blissfully unaware of the present-day landscape, Volkan Aslan’s scattered memory (‘We’re not in Istanbul now are we?) requires the interviewer to repeat many of her questions. In Wretman’s 2054 fresh air has become a commodity and advanced artificial intelligence is considered a necessary, and quite harmless, part of everyday existence.
A self-labelled ‘stunt woman and fitness freak,’ Wretman’s ‘Fitness for artists’ (2011-ongoing), also comprised artist-interviews. This ‘self help project for individuals from a wide cultural landscape’ aimed to ‘fill the body and soul of participating artists with endorphins to improve their creativity and self consciousness.’ ‘Helga was here’ projects this ‘artistic self-production into the future as each artist describes how their projects have been received.
From its flimsy costumes and makeup to its hammy lines, Wretman’s self-described ‘mockumentary in classic History Channel style’ is distinctly B-grade. Its production speaks to art’s role as a speculative force whose influence extends far beyond the time of its creation, while at the same time parodying the idea of art as a force of social, political, or ecological development with clear and measurable targets. At the end of the interviews Wretman concludes with dramatic flair, ‘The only question left unanswered is what happens next!’
Helga Wretman (b. 1985, Stockholm) is an artist, choreographer, and stuntwoman living and working in Berlin. She trained as a dancer at The Royal Swedish Ballet School, Stockholm. Selected presentations and performances include V4ULT, Berlin, 2015; Arte Creative, Strasbourg, 2015; Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, 2015; Galerie Neumeister Bar-Am, Berlin, 2015; Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, 2014; Demons Mouth, Oslo, 2014; Stroom Den Haag, 2014; Thyssen Bornemisza Art, Vienna, 2014; Kampnagel, Hamburg, 2014; Arte Creative, Strasbourg, 2014 Kunstwerke Berlin, 2014; Transmediale Art Hack Day, LEAP Berlin 2014, Palais de Tokyo, 2012; Bergen Kunsthall, 2011; Darsa Comfort, Zurich, 2010; Kunsthalle Athena, Athens, 2010. Wretman was guest lecturer at Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux.