The Grief Prophesy

9 September – 19 November 2017
GIBCA / Gothenburg Biennial for Contemporary Art

Project commission for Gothenburg International Biennial for Contemporary Art (GIBCA)

Curator: Nav Haq


  • Unreleased 12" LP pressed on 180 gram black vinyl (416 copies);
  • 04:17 audio recording (oud, Filip Bagewitz);
  • 04:17 audio recording (vevlira, Anders Ådin);
  • Album cover image by Kristian Wåhlin (aka Necrolord);
  • Page-work for PARSE Journal, issue 6: Secularity
  • Photographic image of graffiti on Keillers Park water tower;
  • Unrealised proposal (pentagram engraving) for Keillers Park water tower.

    Producer: Maddie Leach
    Cover image: Kristian Wåhlin
    Musicians: Anders Ådin; Filip Bagewitz
    Sound engineer: Mappe Persson
    Mastering: Oskar Karlsson
    Designer: Warren Olds, Studio Ahoy
    Photography: Hendrik Zeitler, Maddie Leach

Recorded at Kulturtemplet, Göteborg, Sweden
Pressed at Disc Manufacturing Services Ltd, UK

Supported by
The Culture Foundation of the Postcode Lottery
Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg
Music Lovers Records, Gothenburg

With thanks to
Ola Carlsson, Anders Björnsson, Jorge Alcaide, Peter Uhr, Adrian McCleland, Dr Thomas Bossius, Kristina Meiton, Julian McKinney.

Mapping and interpreting the historical specificity of a particular site, Maddie Leach’s project for the Göteborg International Biennial concentrated on places in Gothenburg and the town of Strömstad, delving into the phenomenon of black metal subculture in Sweden and the wider Nordic region. In particular, Leach looked at the story of renowned band Dissection who formed in Strömstad before moving to Gothenburg, becoming recognised as black metal pioneers in the 1990s. As typical within black metal culture, the group’s identity adopted images and symbols of darkness associated with the occult and the satanic, such as the inverse pentagram or inverse crucifix.

On the evening of 22 July 1997, the band’s lead singer Jon Nödtveidt together with his friend Vlad murdered Josef Ben Meddour, a homosexual and Algerian national, in Keillers Park at Ramberget in Gothenburg. Meddour was found dead near a stone water tower, having been shot with a gun through the heart and the head. Registered as a homophobic hate crime, both men eventually confessed and were imprisoned for the murder. Nödtveidt was released in 2004 and briefly reformed Dissection, with a new line-up, before committing suicide in 2006.

The title of Leach’s project, The Grief Prophesy, refers to Dissection’s first demo tape The Grief Prophecy released in 1991. Leach collaborated with the artist Kristian Wåhlin (Necrolord), who produced a suite of album cover artwork for Dissection, asking him to create an image depicting Keillers Park, and its water tower. In Leach and Wåhlin’s view, we also see the more recent addition of Göteborgs Mosque, symbolising the pluralisation of beliefs and backgrounds of people in Sweden over recent decades. This image appears on the cover of a new vinyl recording containing slowed-down versions of a Dissection instrumental called Into Infinite Obscurity performed on vevlira and oud. Vevlira (or Hurdy Gurdy) is strongly associated with the kind of Swedish folk music positively promoted as ‘swedish culture’ by groups such as Sverigedemokraterna. Oud is an instrument originating in North Africa and the Middle East. As a form of lament, these elongated recordings sit in relation to ideas of continued invisibility and memory that underpin The Grief Prophesy project.

An unrealised part of the project was based in Keillers Park itself. Leach observed a roughly drawn inverted pentagram, marking the water tower site, on a public map depicting key features in the park. As a response to this coded gesture, the artist proposed to engrave a small pentagram on the water tower’s entrance. The pentagram, a symbol common to different religions and folklore is, in the minds of many, inextricably linked to satanic aesthetics and the occult. However here the pentagram was to be configured the ‘opposite’ way round, in which it is associated with notions of protection, banishing, harmony and justice. Intended as a quiet counter-action to mark 20 years since Meddour’s murder, the proposal was declined by Göteborgs Stad the same week an inverted pentagram and the words ‘Död åt Josef. Hell Jon & Vlad’ (Death to Josef. Hail Jon & Vlad) were graffitied on the water tower.

Nav Haq & Maddie Leach
GIBCA catalogue, 2017

The Grief Prophesy


The Grief Prophesy recordings were made inside an old water reservoir at Gråberget in Gothenburg, Sweden. The building was completed in 1901 and decommissioned in the 1950s. An almost identical reservoir building, dated 1908, is a prominent feature of Gothenburg's Keillers Park and is depicted on The Grief Prophesy album cover.

"Into Infinite Obscurity" was written by Swedish musician John Zwetsloot. In its original form the composition is played on guitar and appears as a one-minute interlude on Dissection's Into Infinite Obscurity (1991 EP) and The Somberlain (1993 LP).

Maddie Leach contacted John Zwetsloot for permission to record two interpretations of "Into Infinite Obscurity" as part of The Grief Prophesy project. She received no response until the album launch was promoted as part of the 2017 Gothenburg International Biennial for Contemporary Art, at which point John Zwetsloot protested the use of his musical composition. As a consequence The Grief Prophesy was not publicly released. During the Biennial, one "listening copy" was made available at Music Lovers Records in Gothenburg.

Leach and Zwetsloot strongly disagree about the nature of these new recordings of "Into Infinite Obscurity" and their artistic qualities. Leach maintains the two versions recorded for The Grief Prophesy transform Zwetloot's original to create a new and independent artwork.

The Grief Prophesy


  • Hjalmar Falk's essay on The Grief Prophesy was first published in 2018 on Contemporary Hum, an online publication dedicated to the activity of creative practitioners from New Zealand who are working abroad.