Leif Elggren (born 1950, Linköping, Sweden), is a Swedish artist who lives and works in Stockholm.
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 such as Ash International, Touch, Radium and his own Firework Edition. 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 wide-ranging and prolific body of art often involves dreams and subtle absurdities, social hierarchies turned upside-down, hidden actions and events taking on the quality of icons.
Together with artist Carl Michael von Hausswolff, he is a founder of the Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland (KREV) where he enjoys the title of King.
Elggren spent five years at the Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm, specializing in drawing, design and bookprinting. 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 art books.
In 1988 he formed the duo Guds Söner (The Sons of God) with Kent Tankred, whom he had met four years earlier. The duo excels in creating long, puzzling stage performances that give equal roles to physical action (or inaction) and soundtrack (live or taped) with 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 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 since the late ‘90s. Other key solo works include Talking to a Dead Queen (1996) and Pluralis Majestatis (2000).
Together with Hausswolff, Elggren represented Sweden in the Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2001 (with Tommi Grönlund and Petteri Nisunen from Finland and Anders Tomren from Norway).
In 2007 he appeared (with John Duncan) at the Netmage festival in Bologna organized by xing and executed "Something Like Seeing in the Dark".
Leif Elggen is also a member of Guds Soner (or The Sons of God) with Kent Tankred.
The Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland
Leif Elggren is one of the Kings of Elgaland-Vargaland, as King Leif l
You can find more information on the KREV website
You can find various editions of Leif Elggren's audio and printer work here and for Firework Editions
Live in London - 20:11
Live concert as a part of the xxxxx23, Limehouse Town Hall, London, March 23rd, 2006.
"This basic sound material was recorded in my biological mother's uterus with my not-yet developed teeth used as a fundamental and simple recording device a few days before my birth. This sound material was kept recorded and hidden until recently inside one of my wisdom teeth, but has now been brought to daylight and exposure."
An interview with Leif Elggren in Perfect Sound Forever (USA) can be found here by Daniela Varela, 2005
An interview with Leif Elggren in Dusted (USA) can be found here by Matt Wellins, 2004
Find God’s Name
Yellow & Black
I hereby lay claim to this symbol, sign, icon, the combination of black and yellow, wherever it may appear, in this or any other world, in whatever shape, form, pattern or composition, be it civil or military. I hereby claim to be its originator and owner. (Leif Elggren 1977)
Yellow & Black Permanent installation
Osward Road, London
Yellow & Black: High Heel
Design by Anna Grobgeld Leff
THE NORTH IS PROTECTED
A film by John Duncan 2005. 19 minutes. Text by LE. Soundtrack by John Duncan and Jean-Louis Huhta. Filmed in and around Scrutto di San Leonardo, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Italy.
A collaboration between Carolus XII (source), Simon Josse (mask), Jan Håfström (arrangement), Joachim Nordwall (photo) and LE (text, print, mask copy).
Mats B died May 15, 2009 (born 1951). We had talked for many years about that I should take a photo of him in a well known elevator in central Stockholm. Unfortunately this never happend, but nevertheless now it is done: On December 14, 2010 I took this photo in that elevator with Mats B´s famous cane. Mats B is dead, long live Mats B! More about this here
Drypoint engraving 1984
ON A PROMENADE WITH BABYLONIAN ROYAL CROWN
Dalarö 1987. Photo: Eva Arrhénborg
YES!:Dolaro, 1992. Photos: Annika von Hausswolff
Photo: Annika von Hausswolff
Photo: Eva Arrhénborg
AS IF I WAS MY FATHER
"My father dies in 1996; he reaches 90 years old; he is not my real biological father; I was adopted when I was two years old, anyway I have always considered him my father. He died and I have a vivid image of his appearance during his last days in the home for old people. I dress up in the same sort of underwear and take several photos of myself sitting in one of his favourite chairs. I am him and he is me."
THE ENTRANCE TO THE SEWER SYSTEM
This is the entrance to my sewer system. It is related to many different sub structures. It is always an enticement to follow the whirlpool down to other strategies; to the rats and the pale alligators and the bacterias and the worms and the unwanted children and the false teeth and the finger nails and the forbidden ejaculations and the leftovers and the canaries and the lost dreams of a better future and the stolen money and the blood and the stinkpots and the bitterness and the many hangovers and the shame and the thrown up pills and the tangled hair of single living old women and the kidney stones and the backbiters and the creeps and the wasted flowers and the drugs and all the other amazing or non-amazing planets in the hole of the universe.
Radical Electronic Music And Sound Art In The 21st Century by Thomas Bey William Bailey. More about this here
I stole this knife from my authentic fatal father when I was 12 and I am still happy about it.
THE BABYLONIAN ROYAL CROWN
This is an air-filter from a SAAB 96. It suits my head perfectly and it have a surprising resemblance to a Babylonian Royal Crown that can be seen on 4000 years old stone carvings from the old Babylonian empire. The background is like the following: 1986 I went down to Copenhagen together with my friends and collegues Göran Littorin, Lars Hoffsten and Mathilda Henmark. We was driving down in Görans SAAB-96. We parked the car in Malmö and took the ferry over to Copenhagen. We stayed in Copenhagen for a couple of days, met some friends and had a good time. On our way back, it was late in the evening, we did not get the car starting. Some problems with the fuel supply. We worked all night trying to solve the problem. Early in the morning we removed the air filter and, by some reason, I just tried it on my head and it was perfect, the size was perfect (and the car started a bit later). I was so happy and asked Göran to give it to me while changing to a new one. And here we are!
THE TIN-CAN CROWN
Before I go to bed I always use to sit down at the bedside cutting empty tin-cans and make them look like crowns. I use a heavy scissors and cut them roughly. I like the sharp edges and the careless shape. I make two or three almost every night. Mostly I use cans that have contained chopped tomatoes. I wash them and remove the paper labels. When they are ready I throw them under my bed. Today I think I got more than 2000 cans there under the bed in the dark.