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Bengt af Klintberg(Stockholm)

Folklorist, author and Swedish Fluxus pioneer

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Bengt af Klintberg wrote an essay for Jonas Liveröd’s Grand Assembly – A Encyclopedic Inventory.

Bengt af Klintberg (b. 1938, Stockholm) is a Swedish folklorist, ethnologist, and artist who is known for his work on modern urban legends. His work reached a large audience with such books as Råttan i pizzan (The Rat in the Pizza), published in 1986,and Den stulna njuren (The Stolen Kidney) published in 1994. Klintberg is so widely known for his work on urban legends that the common Swedish word for urban legend for a while was the eponymous “klintbergare” (“klintbergers”).

Klintberg was co-host of Folkminnen (Folk Memories), a long-running radio show on Swedish national public radio channel P1, together with Christina Mattsson, at that time the director of the Nordic Museum. The program invited listeners to write letters describing local legends, games, customs or other folklore traditions, as well as encouraging them to ask questions about their origin or significance. After 750 weekly installations, the last broadcast of the program aired in January 2005.

Bengt af Klintberg gained an international reputation in the early 1960s as a member of Fluxus, the international laboratory of art, design, and music. Dick Higgins’s Something Else Press published Klintberg’s The Cursive Scandinavian Salve in 1967. This booklet brought Klintberg’s background in folklore traditions to the world of contemporary art. Art historian Peter Frank writes about the “sweetly silly and often picturesque events af Klintberg proposes. Af Klintberg fell in with Fluxus in 1962, and his pieces exhibit a Fluxus sense of subversion and quasi-magical activity. Purposeful intent is lent to apparently purposeless gestures, symbolic actions which effect desired change in the way of, say, necromantic ritual: ‘Open an empty envelope with both hands and talk loudly into it. Then close the envelope quickly and post it to anyone whom it may concern. – Calls, Canto 6’.” In 1990, af Klintberg’s work was included in the major Fluxus exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Fluxus artist and scholar Ken Friedman explains Klintberg’s career as an artist and an influence that exceeds his reputation: “Bengt af Klintberg is the most famous unknown artist in Sweden since Strindberg”.

Bengt af Klintberg has been awarded the Je Suis Un Pipe award at Luftslottet by Jonas Liveröd (chairman) in 2020, and later wrote an essay titled ‘Konsten att förtöja luftslott. Möten med Jonas Liveröd’ (Anchoring castles in the air. Encounters with Jonas Liveröd) for Jonas Liveröd’s Grand Assembly – An Encyclopedic Inventory (LL’Editions 2023).

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