A cylinder about dreams and desire through generations and continents.

It seems that the issue of immigration is more relevant than ever both in Europe and in the USA. After my father died, a post card showed up and it turned out that I had a grand uncle who immigrated to the States. This post card has been the inspiration for this glass cylinder.

On one side of the card you see Ernst, my paternal grandmother’s brother.
On the other side, Ernst has written laconically short:
“Dear sister
Sorry that I haven’t written for so long.
Regards from you brother Ernst”
The short sentence as well as the address of my young (and yet unmarried) grandmother both have misspelling and bad grammar.

On the top he’s added “Skrv snart”. With the same misspelling in English it’s “Wrte soon” which so far is the title of the cylinder.
On the photo side, the text says something like: “This was taken over a year has gone by an Indian. Ernst” Again, weird grammar: had he been in the States for a year and already lost his Danish? Or was the photo taken a year ago? And if you look away from the political incorrectness of the word “Indian”, isn’t it interesting that a Native American documented the immigrant?

On the cylinder, behind the writing, is a face of an eight year old girl, me. Also in a situation of transition. The photo was taken shortly after my parents had divorced and I suddenly found myself out of a beautiful large house and into a neighborhood that is now described as a ghetto. At that time there were a lot of single mothers with children.
A stranger took this picture on the playground, got my name and address and later came to my mother’s door to sell it. I can’t think of how many laws he would violate by doing so in 2019 but this was in the early 70’ies.

The frieze around the bottom of the cylinder is made of a photo of my maternal grandmother, sitting in an armchair smoking. She too was an immigrant. Born in Great Britain she came to Denmark and during WWII had to escape to neutral Sweden. What she was lacking in youth at the time the picture was taken she sure had in attitude.

There’s a big Ferris wheel and an inverted photo of a man with a “flying device”. (The man is actually a young Robert Rauschenberg performing.)
Both refer to mankind’s wish to fly. I love that when most people find out and are conscious of the fact they are dreaming, they don’t get a fast car or have sex with the most beautiful person in the world – they fly. Even though it happens rarely to most of us, if you ask people how they fly in their dreams they all have a tactic and a way to get in the air.

The little figure below the photo of Ernst is of course the immigrant’s wish to take roots in a new country.

Finally I’ve added one of my own bus tickets from NY – connecting the cylinder to my trip to Corning and NY.

The cylinder is blown by the hotshop team at Corning Museum of Glass during my Guest Artist visit May 2019. Some months later it was shipped to me in Denmark and I continued working on it.
The cylinder has been painted with enamel. Silk screen decals, made by me, have been added in several layers. Some details: root, ticket and writing have been sandblasted and enamel has been added in the sandblasted grooves.
It took four firings to app. 550 °C to finish the piece.
H: 35 cm D: 24,5 cm

Micha Karlslund