Morning in Tombstone

Morning in Tombstone is the fourth exhibition in a series that began in January 2012 with Not Dark Yet (Angelika Knäpper Gallery). It was followed by Sunset Diaries (Gallerie Leger, Malmö, May 2012) and Moonlight Drive (Galleri Aveny, Göteborg, October 2012).

When I studied at the Royal Academy we got a chance to visit the marine fortification system that is situated under Skeppsholmen. Long out of use, but in the 80’s still partly intact. Among the clutter in the culverts I found two OK signs painted on wood. I brought them back with me and used them in different contexts over a period of time. They came to represent a dissolving Folkhem, as well as an homage and reference to both Dick Bengtsson and Öyvind Fahlström.

In my exhibition Not Dark Yet I showed a retrospective sculpture that referenced the work I’ve made since the 70’s, and the OK sign was a natural part of it. Once I’d brought it back out I had a hard time letting it go again. When I one Sunday in September went to the flea market at Hötorget and found a worn out tin toy boat by the name of Corral I understood I was on to something important.

In a house by Plaza de la Merced in Malaga, on October 25 1881, María Picasso y López and José Ruiz y Blasco had a son. He was named Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Mártir Patricio Ruiz y Picasso, we know him as Pablo.

Early in the morning the day after, in the town Tombstone in Arizona close to the Mexican border, a legendary fire fight took place. The Earp brothers appointed to sheriffs met, together with the alcoholic and tbc infected dentist Doc Holiday, the McLaury brothers, the Clanton Brothers and Billy Claiborne. The first shots were fired on Freemont Street and the rest on the empty lot next to the stable OK-Corall. Everything happened quickly, after 30 seconds Frank and Tom McLaury as well as Billy Clanton lay dead in the gravel. Supposedly a rather cold blooded and hardly glamorous execution. The events have inspired a series of classic Western movies. One of the earliest, and probably the most famous, is My Darling Clementine, directed by John Ford, starring Henry Fonda as Wyatt Earp.

On that day, 50 years later, October 26 1931, the woman who was to become my mother was born at Södersjukhuset in Stockholm.

The weather was alright in Stockholm July 31 1954. The woman who was to become my mother and the man who was to become my father had an early dinner at restaurant Brända Tomten, fillet of beef and french fries, their recurrent favorite. After dinner they went to the movie theatre Röda Kvarn at Biblioteksgatan and watched the French movie The Devil in the Flesh directed by Claude Autant-Lara. While finishing their dinner overlooking Stureplan, thinking about wether they had time for coffee before the movie, the two Italian mountain climbers Achille Compagnonis and Lino Lacedellis reached the summit of mountain K2, the second highest mountain in the world. Something no one ever accomplished before. It would be 23 years before the mountain was climbed again.

39 years later the Swedish mountain climber Daniel Bidner reached the same summit, where he placed my sculpture The Chair. The morning after, July 31 1993, he watched the sun rise over Karakorum on his way down from the mountain.

Wyatt Earp lived to be an old man, unlike most of his colleagues. Toward the end of his life he was a consultant in the production of Western movies in Hollywood. He died at the age of 81 in Los Angeles, January 13 1929, the same year as the man who was to become my father was born in Stockholm. The woman who came to be my mother is now 81 years, the mist thickens, but the memory of the dinner and the movie in 1954 remains crystal clear.

Saturday July 31 2010 I visited Britt Tunbjörk in Borås, I took a photo in her bathroom.

Everything counts…

Martin Wickström, February 2013