ilona huss walin

what if I was a rat ?

7.10 - 11.11 2002

When Ilona Huss Walin plans a projects the conditions become very
important. The conditions, the situation of the project and the context,
form the development in a very high grade. There are no certain topics or
ideas she works with or a special media or technique she always uses.
Technique, media and subjects are decided when she confronts with the

Still I believe there are some characteristics in her works. She often
works with ordinary subjects, situations and things. Something everyone
has an opinion about. That can be religion, pop-stars, home, commercials,
tourism or rats. To get a perspective and to understand a thing or a
phenomenon she works with them in practice. She can take a role and
become a priest or a pop-star for a time. Or she can film rats and then
try to understand their life. Everything is carried out very carefully
and with attention even about the smallest detail.

In an art-project in Eslöv in Sweden, on a Christmas theme, she became a
priest. Before the project she knew very little about Christianity, she
is not Christian herself. To investigate what it means to be a priest she
had to make some preparations. She studied and she made herself a
portable priest-kit with a priest cowl, an altar, a pair of loud-speakers
and she wrote her own sermons and prayers. With the priest-kit she went
out in the Christmas shopping in the centre of Eslöv and preached.

In "The Preacher", the title of the performance, she created a situation
and a role that would make most people insecure. What would the ordinary
Christmas-shopper think? Would they take Huss Wallin for serious or for a
lunatic? How would the people in Eslöv react? This insecurity is very
important for Huss Walin. She likes to put herself in a situation she
beforehand doesn't know if she can control. This can be very challenging
and Huss Walin wants to challnge herself and others to look at things
from new views and then create new perspectives. She makes this possible
by adding something new to something well-known. This isn't the usual way
of acting (a sane person won't go out in public preaching) and many of
her works have a surrealistic touch.

Huss Walin works a lot with her projects. She builds, she writes and she
studies. When she presented me the idea for What if I was a rat the first
time it was just a simple idea. She wanted to build a human home for a
couple of rats. The scale should be adjusted for the animals. She
investigated the situation at Beeoff. How did the cameras work, in which
angles could they work? She built interiors for the rat-home, and started
to look for details. Where to find a tv-set suited for the rat-size? She
studied on the life of rats. She knew very little about rats at that
time. More and more she tried to understand their situation, What if I
was a rat? New thoughts and new ideas came to her and to us at Beeoff. If
you film a rat in a human home adjusted to the size of a rat, what will
it look like? Will it look like the home is adjusted or will it look like
the rats are enlarged to human size?

There are some interesting discussions here. Man in relation to the
animal for instance. Is it the rat that has invaded the human world or is
it the human that has invaded the world of the rat? When we find a rat in
our home is it the rat that has invaded our world or is it our home that
has invaded the nature? What is a home? Is it a peaceful place or a bit
of nature that we occupy? What if I was a rat gives us a possibility to
study the life of the rats and compare it to our own. What is it to be a

Björn Norberg, curator for nonTVTVstation.