A Short Reprise For Emanuel Swedenborg, Who Went Insane, But For Very Good Reasons
Featured artists: Dave Charlesworth, Kitty Clark, Leif Elggren, Bentley Farrington Marenka Gabeler
Curated by Niekolaas Johannes Lekkerkerk, Rianne Groen and Nina Swaep
05.02.12 – 05.03.12
Private view: Saturday 4 February, 19.00 – 21.00
Click here to download the exhibition leaflet
Click here to download the floor plan
After the private view the exhibition can be viewed by appointment only.
To book an appointment, please send an email to email@example.com
4 Brockmer House, Crowder Street, London, E1 0BJ, The United Kingdom
Nearest tube: Shadwell Overground / DLR
For further information and documentation, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Introduction / Context
Swedenborg Epic. is an exhibitionary reprise offering a domestic space to artists to create a work around three accounts upholding the charge of insanity brought against Emanuel Swedenborg (Stockholm 1688 - Wapping, London 1772). These accounts, largely based on linger and hearsay, have been propagated by Swedish pastor Mathesius, Methodist leader Wesley, and questionably by the Moravian Brockmer as based on events taking place during Swedenborg’s stay at Brockmer’s house in London during 1744.
Arguably, the possible fictionalisation and extravagance of these accounts have lead to a certain degree of degeneration in regard of Swedenborg’s reputation, both during his late days and posthumously. Taking these peculiar and rather ambiguous accounts as its leitmotiv, the project opens a space for speculation and image-correction of Swedenborg’s stature and meaning in the present.
“[...] When Mr. Brockmer retired to his room, which was about nine o’clock, he [Swedenborg] ran after him, looked very frightful: his hair stood upright, and he foamed a little at his mouth. He wanted to talk with Mr. Brockmer, but as he had an impediment in his speech, it was long before he could bring forth a single word. At last he said, he had something very particular to communicate: namely, that he was the Messiah: that he was come to be crucified for the Jews; and that as he had a great impediment in his speech, Mr. Brockmer was chosen to be his mouth, to go with him the next day to the synagogue, and there to preach his words. [...]”
– Mathesius, Arminian Magazine, 1781
“Many years ago the Baron [Swedenborg] came over to England, and lodged at one Mr. Brockmer’s: who informed me that while he was in his house had a violent fever; in the height of which, being totally delirious, he broke from Mr. Brockmer, ran into the street stark naked, proclaimed himself the Messiah, and rolled himself in the mire. I suppose he dates from this time his admission into the Society of Angels. From this time we are undoubtedly to date that peculiar species of insanity which attended him, with scarce any intermission, to the day of his death.”
– John Wesley, Arminian Magazine, 1783
“[...] The following question was then put to Mr. Brockmer: “Supposing it to be true, that Baron Swedenborg did actually see and converse with angels and spirits, did you ever observe anything in his behaviour, that might not naturally be expected on such an extraordinary occasion?” He replied in words to the following effect: “If I believed that to be true, I should not wonder at anything he said or did; but should rather wonder that the surprise and astonishment which he must have felt on such an occasion, did not betray him into more unguarded expressions than were ever known to escape him; for he did and said nothing but what I could easily account for in my own mind, if I really believed what he declares in his writings to be true.””
– Robert Beatson and Robert Hindmarsh visiting John Paul Brockmer in London, Magazine of Knowledge, Vol. II, 1791