July 13, 2010

Murder at the Savoy

In 1969 Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö wrote the crime novel Murder at the Savoy, the sixth novel in the series The Story of a Crime. Because it went beyond the previous ideals and format of crime fiction, the series is today regarded as the starting point of an iconic genre. Sjöwall & Wahlöö’s stylistic authorship brought insight into real police work and made visible society’s social and political structures in a new way. Crime fiction moved from being a genre in which an upper-class character had been solving murder mysteries at castles and estates, towards creating an understanding of the real work of a police detective. The couple’s collaboration and their perspective have been inspiring crime writers ever since, and have now inspired us to create an art project.

The novel’s plot begins with a murder at the Hotel Savoy in Malmö. It is the summer of 1969 and the CEO of an international company has been shot. The clues lead back to shady weapon deals linked to top leaders in society. The government orders parallel investigations by the secret service. Chief Inspector Martin Beck is called down from Stockholm to solve the case together with Per Månsson from Malmö.

Malmö Konsthall has invited 15 artists to participate in the exhibition project Murder at the Savoy. The novel functions as a platform allowing artists to blend fiction and reality at different places in Malmö. The novel’s plot, characters and
settings, or social and political dimensions have influenced the creation of these art works. Murder at the Savoy is designed to be an exhibition about a crime and the project therefore involves a number of different art forms and genres. For example, visitors will encounter works that reflect upon the role of the police and the media in society. The project will present photographs, paintings, sculptures, performance art, installations and videos at various locations in the city.

The excellent Malmö Konsthall has me all in a tither, with what looks to be a brilliant concept for a show opening on the eve of my two week sojourn to the UK.
MURDER AT THE SAVOY - EXHIBITION OF A CRIME runs only for a week, and I will be rueing the missed opportunity to engage in the exhibition which incorporates performances around Malmö, plus other public programmes relating to the crime genre.

The thing that excites me most is that the concept for the show explores many ideas I investigate within my own artistic practice, noticably the underlying themes and plot devices from the crime genre and murder mysteries, the blending of fiction and reality, primarily through popular culture references, and the interdisciplinary approach I take to these ideas. Hypothetical works whirl around my head and I think about stealthily installing a work of my own accord. Indeed, I even did a cycle-by (as opposed to a drive-by) of the Hotel Savoy this afternoon, in all its art deco glory, to scope out the scene of the fictional crime.

The scene of the crime in 1964.
During the exhibition the Malmö City Archive will present a photographic journey through the footsteps of the murderer using photographs from the time (1969). Here's hoping I can see this at the opening.

text and images from the Malmö Konsthall press release.

And whilst Murder at the Savoy has a rather nice ring to it, the original Swedish title is naturally, far superior - POLIS, POLIS, POTATIMOS! - which translates to "Police! Police! Mashed Potato!"
A variation of a well-known children's rhyme
, "Polis, Polis, Potatisgris!" (Police, Police, Potato Pig!).

I look forward to the Sunday vernissage at the Hotel Savoy with much anticipation.

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