THE OTHER SIDE Barcelona (L´altre costat) – Permanent public installation at Cemetery of Poblenou
by Ulla Taipale
Our curiosity and our need to understand other forms of intelligence have brought about, among other interests, the study of the life of bees in different centuries and cultures. There are a striking number of thinkers who have shown an interest in the ingenuity and extraordinary capacities of bees. Since ancient times, these insects have also been associated with immortality and the ability to communicate across parallel worlds.
The Other Side is a site-specific artwork, based on artistic research and installed at the historical cemetery of Poblenou in Barcelona from 15th March 2018 onwards. Seven angel sculptures are paired with fragments from literary works, selected to illustrate the role played by bees in the words written by great thinkers over the course of history. The text fragments can be listened by using an augmented reality application Arilyn*, through a visitor’s smart device, in English, Spanish or Catalan.
The research and the artwork was inspired by a science fiction novel Blood of Angels (2011) by a Finnish author Johanna Sinisalo. A family tragedy and the decline of the bees intertwine in the novel in a fascinating manner; offering a great amount of knowledge about bees through the telling a story, in which the protagonist is able to shift between two parallel worlds assisted by a dead queen bee.
While the tendency of our society is to categorise the honeybee as a production animal and solely highlight the utilitarian values of these insects, many authors express, in their writings, the philosophically and spiritually rich connotations of Bee Life.
The Other Side was commissioned by the Fundació Joan Miró in collaboration with the Institut de Cultura de Barcelona and Cemetiris de Barcelona. The first version was presented in Helsinki as a part of Melliferopolis Fest, in 2016.
The work at the cemetery of Poblenou has been documented in an art book The Other Side:
The work formed also a fundamental part of the Master of Arts thesis of Ulla Taipale for The Aalto University in 2018:
Both books include illustrations that can be listened to through Arilyn application: open a full screen view of the book and scan the b/w illustrations!