Leif Elggren

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Active since the late 1970s, Leif Elggren has become one of the most constantly surprising conceptual artists to work in the combined worlds of audio and visual. A writer, visual artist, stage performer,…
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Active since the late 1970s, Leif Elggren has become one of the most constantly surprising conceptual artists to work in the combined worlds of audio and visual. A writer, visual artist, stage performer, and composer, he has many albums to his credits, solo and with the Sons of God, on labels like Ash International, Touch, Radium, and his own Firework Edition Records. His music, often conceived as the soundtrack to a visual installation or experimental stage performance, usually presents carefully selected sound sources over a long stretch of time and can range from mesmerizingly quiet electronics to harsh noise. His best-known conceptual project is the foundation in 1992 of the Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland, of which he is co-regent with Carl Michael Von Hausswolff.

Elggren was born in Linkoping, Sweden, in 1950. Adopted at the age of two, he had a difficult childhood. His passion for drawing helped him to focus on a goal, and upon coming of age, he spent five years at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm, specializing in design and book printing. In the late ‘70s he began to associate with performance groups, meeting people like Hausswolff and Thomas Liljenberg. With the latter he formed Firework in 1978, a duo that put up exhibitions and performances. Around the same time he purchased a press and started to publish his and his friends' art books.

In 1988, he formed the duo Guds Söner, or the Sons of God with Kent Tankred, whom he had met four years before. The duo excels in creating long, puzzling stage performances that give equal roles to physical action (or inaction) and soundtrack (live or taped) and use basic themes such as violence, love, the quotidian, food, and royalty. Elggren released his first 7" records in 1982 and 1984 on Hausswolff's label Radium. A first solo LP, Flown Over by an Old King, came out in 1988. The inception of Firework Edition Records in 1996 allowed Elggren to release more of his music, and the growing popularity of installation art in avant-garde music circles (thanks to its ties with experimental electronica) has given his work more international exposure in the late ‘90s. Other key solo works include Talking to a Dead Queen (1996) and Pluralis Majestatis (2000). Together with Hausswolff, Elggren curated the Nordic room at the Venice Biennale in 2001.