Öyvind Fahlström< (1928-1976)
U-barn (1968)
“U-BARN was based on a few simple things: combining some forms of societal imprinting through education and advertisement, some educational situations and an old commercial. And then genetic imprinting, i.e., handicaps of some kind, and show how children behave in a class situation in that case. But some facts about LSD are included and some voices that happen to be me and another person talking about the effects of it and they are combined with images of that kind, from therapeutic experiments at a mental hospital. For a long time it remains on a kind of immobile, introverted plane with different levels of consciousness, and then there is the breakout, that is the outwardly activating insight, the story of the crown prince and the draft.” (Fahlström interviewed by Leif Nylén and Mats G. Bengtsson in Paletten # 3 1968.)

While well-known for his inventive and various visual art (paintings, collages, installations), for his concrete poetry and his “concretist” manifesto “Hätila ragulpr på fåtskliaben” (“HIPY PAPY BTHUTHDTH THUTHDA BTHUTHDY”) from 1953, and, at least in some contexts, for his radio art, happenings, and plays, Fahlström’s relation to film belongs to the more unexplored territo- ries of his multifarious work. Even so, film was part of his aesthetic interests from the very beginning, and it was an interest that would linger on during the decades to come. Eventually, during the late 1960s and early 1970s, it would also result in the production of a handful of films, of which the most well-known is perhaps Du gamla, du fria (“Provocation”) from 1972. U-BARN, though, is Fahlström’s most experimental and complex film, why we are very happy to be able to make it available to a Swedish as well as an international audience.

The dialogue in U-BARN is extremely literal and embedded in specific con- texts of learning and protest. As a conventional subtitling would be impos- sible due to Fahlström’s highly complex sound work, which actively resists a normalizing treatment, we have chosen to publish the dialogue track as a transcription in a separate booklet (in Swedish as well as in English).