Since the inception of the Bolt Poetry series two years ago, the affectionately dubbed “bolt people” have become a species of their own. Tobbe Malms January 2016 exhibition of the 4th part in the series was warmly received, with roughly 200 people visiting the exhibition daily in Borlänge, Sweden, while more viewed the exhibition online at Malm’s Behance collection. The exhibition was then moved to Malm’s own gallery in Oslo, where they will see out the Spring. Tobbe first heard the bolts calling out to him as he was walking over an old farm. He gathered up as many as he could, leaving the rest to their rusting.
Destruction is a strong theme throughout Malm’s work. The breaking apart of one thing inevitably creates something new. There is no void into which earthly objects disappear. The gathered bolts underwent a renewal process in the fires of Malm’s smithy. “Each one seemed to have a story to tell, it was like poetry,” he says of the process. The bolts he left behind are dissolving toward a new state, and will emerge with fresh possibilities. There is a comfort for the viewer in the universality of the emotions stirred by the hauntingly human figures, while at the same time the cold metal offers little sense of physical warmth. It reminds us that we all have breaking heart within a tough exterior, and of the extra step required to find compassion inside.
One such story has fresh meaning today. The sculpture shown here – representing an adult holding a child as both look down at another child curled upon the ground – was purchased by the Borlänge Culture Committee. The piece will be established at a school to encourage the children to pause and reflect. A Committee member noted that the piece was very timely in the face of the refugee crisis Sweden is currently trying to deal with. The simple expression of the piece, the gentle cradling of a child portrayed in affronting iron, strikes the viewer that little bit deeper. Sometimes it requires a sixth sense to help us comprehend the other five.
The theme of Moments and Eternities aptly marks an end of this species. Almost all of the bolts collected by Malm have gone through the cycle of renewal and been forged into something new. These are the ones who will stay to tell their stories. Others are dissolving into the earth. The few bolts that remain in the workshop may eventually be heated and shaped into new expressions, but for now, they lay quietly.