Kim Upstill Kim Upstill

Installation Text

It used to be, I am told in the car over the back seat craning, that only the King could hunt on Öland. To make sure the meat was his [the sport, the thrill of the chase] he required that the farmers and workers of Öland cut off one leg of each of their dogs. Their bodies limited their movements, made less surprising, useless for pursuit.

In order to pick flowers you gotta bend down, slice off what holds them to the dirt. You need to know a little about them sometimes their nutritional value, sometimes their beauty, sometimes if they are standing in your way. Are you dead yet? How many dogs legs are buried here? What are we growing against?

The stone walls of this property are surrounded by nettles and other weeds. Most gardens near us have exact borders for plants, low walls for fields. Here though there are clumps of growth. The neighbor walks briskly by on the gravel road to take a picture every day of the sunset. She is always wearing extremely clean pajamas. She is never making eye contact.

At night I am lying looking up at the roof, listening to the door opening and closing, opening and closing. It is the Vegan, letting out flies. In the day I slice off flowers heads, eat cheap sausages, tilt my head up towards the sun. Two limbs carrying me, two limbs putting things in jars for us.

We walk through the mud to dip bottles into the well. I lie on my stomach to see if I can put my head in without my hands (I can’t), we bike to an edge of the island and dunk a bottle in the sea, I place my body under fully, look up. I pick nettles with one glove right before we eat. At dinner we let people know they can wash their hands in any of these results.

We walk into the royal gardens with a bag slung low, a camera ready, a dress, bright lips. We pay for our tickets. We are informed that we are allowed one vote each for our favorite pop-up garden. There are four competitors. They smile into the camera, they truck in fresh dirt and resettle full plants into newly royal earth. The lavender looks fake. The marigolds like pictures of marigolds.

I stand under an arch, look the opposite direction, plunge my hand into the knotted stems, find the softness of petals, clip them at the source with my long nails, smiling.

I take green matter from between rocks, under trees, on top of stems. Get lost in a rhubarb forest, bitten, listen to flies being attracted to fat. I am still under a tree, burning my hands, licking my knife, thinking about our lips, allowing for bitterness.

At dinner, there is a contraction around the bowl of nettles. To let your animal-hands walk into pain. It’s possible. It’s alluring. One man does not know he is about to get stung, is annoyed and hides his annoyance behind water.

At dinner we eat and listen to Swedish punk, arrange our own plates, feel our way through the jared foliage, results of flowers. Some of our hands sting, some of us are damp. Later we light a fire, drink, scatter the bowls, break some glass, keep moving.