The Mistletoe and Högsby

Between Reality and Fairytales, Kalmar Artmuseum, Högsby, 2007

  1. -Hundreds of leaflets with mistletoe motif have been found in letterboxes and put up in different places around the village of Högsby.

Like a cancer, the mistletoe grows on trees and bushes. It mostly looks like a big fuzz or a ball of wool, an unwelcome guest that steals nourishment from the vegetable kingdom. They are referred to as parasites. But it is special, since it doesn’t grow in many places in Sweden. The eastern part of Småland has however been favourable to the growth of the mistletoe. Its rareness has made it protected and locals with trees full of mistletoe are advised not to remove the beautiful weed.

 Maybe one could speak of a mistletoe soul, a soul named folklore and tourism. Some mistletoe stories warn against omens should the mistletoe be weeded out. Others predict happiness if the mistletoe is found growing in the right sort of tree and most people probably think of the well-known kiss under the mistletoe at Christmas. Then we usually think of an American mistletoe with red berries. Swedish mistletoe has white berries that the magpies love and the magpies also spread the plant’s seeds. But the mistletoe has more to tell, for example it is believed to have magical powers. Maybe magic and tourism is the same thing in this case?

 In Högsby, the mistletoe has become something of a symbol. It is said to grow all over the area. I was looking for it; by the high street, the library, Konsum (the supermarket), the church and the rest of Högsby. In my imagination Högsby was situated in a forest of mistletoe. But imagination and reality don’t always go together. Maybe the imagination can be made real? I drew mistletoes and printed them on leaflets. Just like the mistletoe sponge on trees, the leaflets invaded the streets of Högsby; walls, electric cabinets, shop-windows and notice boards. In different mistletoe motifs one could perceive a story about the relation between the plant and the village. And maybe now the fairyland of the mistletoe could eventually become a reality.