Tom Oliver Jacobson: The Bistro

“The heart and the head will be occupied or reoccupied by our real problems — the problems of life and of human relations, of creation and behaviour and religion.”
– John Maynard Keynes (British economist), 1931

What would it feel like to be in a world where economy had truly taken the backseat were it belonged? Where, in other words, global consumerist capitalism had never hit the A-charts, and instead society were dominated by human relations, creativity and spirituality?

Since I started producing works, I have always aimed at constructing possible other worlds in immersive landscapes. A central fantasy is imagining a society in which aesthetics and art, rather than the delusion of infinite growth, were a central principle in all interaction and institution. Currently I am developing a work with the working title The Bistro. It is a performance installation with scenographic elements that are familiar to a European middle class audience, and contrasted with radically different behaviors and gestures that allow the fictional world to seep in through the cracks. By creating snapshots of other possible worlds, I am not aiming to suggests utopian or even desirable futures, but simply to dwell in what-could-be as an ongoing imaginative practice.

Tom Oliver was born in Stockholm, Sweden, and after receiving a B.A in linguistics, began an MSc in cognitive science, which they disrupted in favour of a career as a curator and producer in performing arts. Between 2015 and 2019 they were co-founder and (co-) artistic director for the performance group Tlön. Their productions shifted from sensory laboratories in fantastical worlds, to performative conferences dealing with speculative futures. They produced monthly queer oriented nightclubs with performative elements under the same name. Alongside their own productions, T-O has been a recurring performer in the award-winning performance group Sister Hope (based in Copenhagen), which produces large scale durational performance installations in Scandinavian theatres, museums and schools.

Photos by Thomas Lenden