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by due permission of the Malmö Faculty of Fine and Performing Arts, Lund University, Sweden. To be defended at Umeå Academy of Fine Arts, Umeå University, on 14th November 2016 at 12 in Flexhallen, Bildmuseet, Östra strandgatan 30B, 901 87 Umeå.

Dr. Professor Stefan Jonsson, Linköping University

Cecilia Parsberg presents the six staged works from her dissertation 10–11 am

Umeå universitets logotyp

A thesis consisting of nine text chapters and six works of art


This dissertation has been carried out and supervised within the graduate programme in Fine Arts at Umeå Academy of Fine Arts, Umeå University. The dissertation is presented at Lund University in the framework of the cooperation agreement between the Malmö Faculty of Fine and Performing Arts, Lund University, and Umeå Academy of Fine Arts regarding doctoral education in the subject Fine Arts in the context of Konstnärliga forskarskolan.

This work is protected by the Swedish Copyright Legislation (Act 1960:729).
ISBN: 978-91-7623-977-3
Dissertations from Academy of Fine Arts at Umeå University – 1
Malmö Faculty of Fine and Performing Arts, Lund University: Doctoral Studies and Research in Fine and Performing Arts, 14. ISSN: 1653-8617
Digital version available at and

Swedish proofreading: Göran Dahlberg
English translation: Sarah Clyne Sundberg
Proofreading: James Roberts
Graphic design: Johan Ahlbäck
Photos: Cecilia Parsberg, unless other credit is given

© Cecilia Parsberg 2016


My first encounter with a begging person led me to spend five years investigating the new situation regarding begging and giving in Sweden. The premise is that every-day actions and reactions to another person can be made visible through aesthetics with ethical underpinnings. My investigation takes place mainly in the urban landscape and in the media. The images always constitute the point of departure for the reasoning and for the staged works. Images that separate as well as connect bodies. Which images are at play in the social choreography of begging and giving? In this context, how can images be activated in new ways? How can new images be generated? Begging is a call to social interaction, and regardless of whether the giver interacts socially with the begging person on the street, the giver is implicated in the asymmetrical value systems of the European Union. In my first staged work I hire a professional market researcher to find out how a beggar in Sweden should behave to be successful. This becomes a film that I then show opposite another film in which begging people talk about how givers give. This is followed by a number of staged works and an interdisciplinary theoretical discussion involving, among others, Judith Butler, Sara Ahmed, and Hannah Arendt, as well as a number of artistic works concerning how images – and bodily actions – are linked to the social image and the body politics. The arrangement of the choirs in the staged work The Chorus of Begging and The Chorus of Giving, indicates a space for social interaction and thus demonstrates a different order that demands different actions in terms of language, movement, and attitude toward each other. It’s a social choreography: when the choirs rehearsed and sung together a political form emerged. My hope is to make visible a space for action between the begging and the giving that can be used for continued ethical negotiations and new staged works.

Key words: fine arts, images, begging, giving, beggar, giver, successful, solidarity, empathy, affect, space of action, free movement, borders, politics of waiting, gestures, urban life, participating art, filminstallation, asymmetry, symmetry, place, house, co-presence, framing, social choreography, power, activate the image, ethics, aesthetics, ethics, video documentation, artistic research, phronesis, Hannah Arendt, Judith Butler, Sara Ahmed, Sven-Eric Liedman.



First and foremost I want to thank my advisors Cecilia Lagerström, professor of dramatic performance, Gothenburg University and Göran Dahlberg, author, and editor-in-chief of Glänta.

Big thanks to my conversation partners during the work process: Ingegerd Green, Linn Hansén, Eva Hellhoff, Anders Risling, Erik Pauser, Anna Westberg, Janna Holmstedt, for many long and interesting conversations. For engaging work conversation I want to thank KG Hammar, Sven-Erik Liedman, Karin Green, Kristina Meiton, Laura Chifiriuc, Ioana Cojocariu, Imola Mokos, Lars Dahlström, Lena Ulrika Rudeke, Kent Sjöström and Hans Swärd, as well as Per Nilsson, Micael Norberg, Roland Spolander at Umeå Academy of Fine Arts, and Susanne Andegras for her patience with my project planning.

A special thanks to Ana van der Vliet, curator of Motbilder, the first production of The Chorus of Begging and The Chorus of Giving in six containers under Älvsborgsbron. Anna immediately understood what I was trying to do and the arrangement of the containers was her idea, in a place where passers-by – and not just an art audience that had deliberately sought it out – could take part. Thanks to Thomas Oldrell, director of Skövde Konsthall and Eva Eriksdotter director at Varbergs Konsthall for producing the solo exhibition with the staged thesis works and for arranging panel discussions with local politicians and activists. And thanks to Anna-Karin Larsson at Skellefteå Konsthall who will show the exhibition in the autumn of 2016.

A warm thank you to all participants in What Images does the Giving face? & What Images does the Begging face?, Body on Street, and The Chorus of Begging and The Chorus of Giving. I’ve learned a lot from you. Thanks to Leif Eriksson and Marin Cuero.  A very special thanks to Next Stop Horizon, consisting of Jenny Roos and Per Hagström, the choir directors who led the training and helped creating a safe and trusting environment.

Thanks for thoughtful conversation and input from the course leaders Ingela Josefsson and Tore Nordenstam in Epistemology courses I, II III, and from my fellow Ph.D. students.

The film school, today part of Valand Academy, Gothenburg University, engaged me as a teacher during the first two years of my work with my thesis, thanks to; colleagues Kalle Boman, Göran du Rees and Gunilla Burstedt for embracing my competency so that I could take part of the unique and horizontal teaching strategy and process at the film school. Big thanks to Konstnärliga Forskarskolan’s director Ylva Gislén, Emma Kihl and Henrik Frisk whose competency and heartfelt engagement made possible a research environment where everybody could be sensitive to each person’s specific needs, competency, and working process. This was especially valuable as I went through a period of crisis. Thanks to all who led seminars, especially Tobias Hering, Christina Kullberg, AKAY and KlisterPeter.

I would also like to thank the opponents I’ve had at the part-seminars. Klas Grinell at the Museum of World Culture in Gothenburg, Jan-Erik Lundström, Anette Arlander, Helena Mattsson and beforehand professor Stefan Jonsson who will be dissertation opponent. Finally I would like to thank Sarah Clyne Sundberg for a clean and consistent translation as well as James Roberts who proofread with great engagement and care, and Johan Ahlbäck who designed this digital publication for my thesis making it accessible and graspable.