Malin Skinnar – A Swedish singing, digital Nomad.
Malin, we are curious to find out more about you. Could you please tell us what brought you to Romania ?
I am a digital nomad who depicts folklore through my iPhone and via YouTube. I have my studio and atelier in a camper van and I tell the stories of different countries by their folk songs.
My vision is to travel around Romania and make a book about the women’s songs and about the self sustainable people. Romania has a richness when it comes to village life and traditional lifestyles still kept in use. Those are things that I find unique for Romania and desirable for us in Sweden. I dearly wish to depict that and tell the stories from Romania.
I always travel with the help of my friendly network on Facebook and I am always met by kind and hospitable village people. I often get the question if I am not scared to travel alone.
No, I am not. Friendliness and hospitality are extensive all over the world and in Romania it was omnipresent.
I was embraced, guided and welcomed as if I was a niece, the child of a cousin or a dear, old friend. Multumesc, Romania !
Romania always pulled me. The folklore is strong and multi-facetted there. Romania is the core of Europe and has been crossed by historical epochs, cultures, people, throughout history, but in Sweden we hardly know anything about Romania.
I had heard about special, ancient songs from Romania as I was making a book in neighbouring Bulgaria. I did an art book about Bulgarian women’s songs called : “Att klä sig i ett folks andedräkt”.
I came to Bucharest without knowing anyone, but became friends with some people through a course I assisted, called “ The Liberated Voice”. By accident I found a STAR-video of a young girl from Cluj singing a folksong.
The song was magical and captivating and I took the train north and played the video to everyone I met. At the end, the tunes could be tracked to Maramures and by a miracle I found the singer, who was now an adult. She is fantastic Livia Neag.
Here you can watch MALIN ROMANIA : MALIN ROMANIA
As usual, in Romania, miraculous things happen and the day after I happened to sing with an old woman from the village Ungureni, Ana Buda and she recognised the song from You Tube ! Doamna Ana Burda had taught Livia Neag about Lapus old treasures : the songs.
Watch Livia Neag as she sings for Malin.
It is to this area that I returned to sing and to paint the next book. Through my presence on Facebook I have now invitations from many villages where people wish for me to come and depict their story .
I noticed that every village in Romania had their special traits and the authentic songs have their special place in the every day lives of the villagers.
As a folklore story-teller it is the variation of culture that makes a bridge where there is usually national borders.
The human being and her songs, clothes, traditional costumes, language and every day life have similarities everywhere you go in the world.
All of us were born, need to survive and will one day die. In between there is joy, challenges , celebrations, hope, belief. All our cultural expressions are like a human cape that embrace us. We carry a heritage with us, despite politics and national borders. The songs are like an archaeological finding and consists of non tangible values that can only be felt in our hearts.
The digital life we have today, with Facebook and YouTube ,makes the description of the lives of people pretty unique. I found a beautiful, old woman, in Maramures and I sat down with her and we sang together. I shared the film on Facebook and all of a sudden I was in contact with 15 of her grandchildren on FB, and they helped me with translations , explanations, connected me with neighbours, other villages and sent me links with things they though I should do in the area !
We would like to be inspired by your other adventures. Where did you go and what did you do ?
I have travelled almost all my life. I am a story-teller and an artist and started early at a radio station in Sweden where music production was my field. Through music I found throat chanting and drum dance from the Arctic and I went to Greenland and hitch-hiked with fishermen. I also depicted hip-hopers and hard rockers in the small villages, between the mountains. Then I joined their grandparents for hunting and learnt all about their old traditions.
At home, in Sweden, I started an exhibition and I went out on a tour with it, for 8 years. A tour with poetry and photographs. Between the year 1992-1998 I told 43 000 children and adults about the Arctic. I made 11 trips to Greenland and I have paddle in between ice bergs, met polar bears and crashed into a whale !
Could you describe a day or two in the camper van ?
In Sweden I use a motto: ” Liten yta stor rymd ” which could be translated to ” Small surface – big space” .
I left behind a beautiful house with an atelier, in the countryside, to move into the camper van. I gave away and sold almost all that I owned, except for an iPad, an iPhone and hiking shoes. I own a camper van with a solar panel. In my home I have made an atelier and studio where I paint art books. At the moment I am painting a book for a vocal quartet that collected nursery rhymes from all over the world. The book shall be finished soon so my whole car is full of sketches. Last week I finished a Finnish songbook for a folk singer who wanted my illustrations for a book that comes with a CD. I am always on the look out to be able to find ways to tell the stories of people.
What do you say if I say passion ?
– To make borders into bridges.
– The human being on earth and singing.
I love sitting with old women who wear head scarves and be in their kitchen and sing. Last year I sat in Senegal with muslim women and they taught me old Mandinka songs from the 14th century. In between prayers they burst into laughter, danced and talked.
What do you say if I say dreams?
– To use my gift to connect people on earth.
– My curiosity to tell stories and my trust to travel to places on earth I didn’t even knew existed.
– To continue with story telling through songs, films, drawings, paintings and words.
– That Europe continues to open borders and collaborate. That excluding nationalism will never gain power again because no one goes out as a winner. Only regimes. Not the individual families. People need each other. We are all of the same kind.
What do you say if I say courage ?
To trust one’s intuition demands a certain degree of courage. To be courageous doesn’t mean one has no fear. It is about how one values the time one has, here on earth – and how to treat one’s neighbour.
I trust individuals. It doesn’t mean that I am not attentive. It means that I am open and flexible towards the situation that I am in.
Which are the meetings/ events that made the biggest impact on you while traveling in Romania?
Oh, all the meetings with people. There is a fundamental sense of friendliness and hospitality everywhere. I always get surprised on how much help I get and how curious everyone is and how much they want to show me their world !
I am moved almost every hour.
One dazing day of luck and joy was when I sat with the women and sang in Ungureni. Their incredible traditional clothing, their scarves, their beautiful and strong hands resting in their laps , was like being in a fairytale.
When they sang I cried.
I had asked to hear laments , it is a tradition we forgot about in Sweden.
They sang so all of us cried. Afterwards we all ate sasuages, apples and drank horinca.
– And we laughed.
I had been sad for a long period of time, for personal reasons, but all sadness disappeared in Ungureni. The laughter stays in my soul. Ungureni is the world’s most beautiful village.
Watch : Malin in Maramures
What are the things that we, in western Europe , could learn from the Romanians?
First of all the hospitality, that is pretty amazing. Secondly, the expressions of the cultural richness that can be found in Romania, via the multi cultural tracks of people who walked the Romania plains and mountains throughout history. The ambiance of the dances, the songs, the stories, the craftsmanship and the traditional clothing.
What do you consider are the unlocked potentials in Romania?
To arrive to those villages where eco-farming and selfsustainability goes hand in hand. There, people knows all that is to know, what it means to be a human being. This is desirable and unique for everyone in Europe.
All Swedes should go to summer camps to the Romanian villages to learn how to live.
The beauty of the whole country is unique. The cities are exciting to visit, the villages wonderful. The wilderness incomparable !
What is your impressions about the creative, artistic environment in Romania ?
In Romania nobody gives up. Everyone struggles and fight. Everyone is connected to everyone. Nobody takes anything for granted, so culture has ambassadors everywhere.
Anything else you wish to add …?
Thank you to everyone who welcomes me in Romania. Thank you to the mountains , the rivers, the forests, the fields. Thank you for your songs, treasures and fairytales.
Thank you !