The jar poem "Nine jars", 1970
(Burkdikten "Nio burkar, 1970)

This "jar poem", by Karl-Erik Tallmo, was exhibited at the Karlskoga Art Fair in 1970. It was not supposed to be arranged as orderly as in this picture, the instruction was rather that the jars were to be placed as when you unpack a paperbag when you have just returned from the grocery store.

The original jars are unfortunately lost, so I have tried to reconstruct this from memory and with the help of a few incomplete annotations from the year the jar poem was made. Note that one of the "jars" (second from the right) is actually a bottle, which was an intendend anomaly. (The difference in English between jar/bottle would probably suggest that a few of the others should also be called bottles, but according to Swedish denomination only one is clearly a bottle.)

They all have labels with some text, except for one, which also lacks a lid. They were all empty, except for one which contained spruce-needles. But, if I remember this correctly now thirty years after, this was not the jar with the label "Spruce-needles, Christmas of 1952" but another one.

The jars were very carefully selected during a couple of months prior to the realization. The jar at the far left was for example an old 50's container for baby food that my mother had feeded me with probably in 1953 or 1954. The lid had a very nice drawing showing how the jar was supposed to be opened by using the handle of a table knife in order to pry it open. The next jar was an old lingonberry jam jar, the fourth from the left had contained the anti-diarrhoea medicine Entero-vioform (which by the way was later banned for causing neuropathy), the third from the right was also a medicine bottle, that had contained Chinaspin, a drug with quinine and camphor used against common colds and influenza. The big jar at the far right was a typical Swedish standardized honey jar.

Labels from left to right:

  • "Varje natt stiger tusentals amerikaner ur sina sängar utan att vakna och går åter till sängs." (Every night thousands of Americans rise from their beds without waking up and then go back to bed.)
  • "Röd höst, Marocko 1860-68" (Red Autumn, Morocco 1860-68)
  • "Eventuellt" (Possibly)
  • "Granbarr julen 1952" (Spruce-needles, Christmas of 1952)
  • (Varken etikett eller lock [No label and no lid])
  • "SMÅ" (SMALL)
  • "jerome" (jerome)
  • "2 timmars lejonkyss" (A two-hour lion kiss)

    A press clipping of a favourable review, from local daily Nerikes Allehanda April 10th 1970: