Cows Can Dream at ASI
Inspired by the innovative and imaginative children's book, Cows Can Dream, the American Swedish Institute's Family Gallery becomes an immersive play environment that explores the story of Sam, a cow who dreams and sometimes wanders through Sweden's Wanås sculpture park.

With text by Jason Diakité, a Swedish Grammy winning rap musician also known as Timbuktu, and with illustrations by Maria Bajt, a Swedish artist who lives and works in Stockholm and Berlin, the book is part of the Wanås Konst Children’s Book series.


The Wanås Konst Children's Book series, for which the first book came out in 2011, is an initiative in which every book features images by a contemporary artist and text by an influential writer. As experiments in words and images, each book takes place at Wanås and concerns a discovery of both art and the park. And like the exhibition at ASI, they encourage discovery of what is art and how everyone is creative.

The book is available at the ASI Museum Store; the exhibit opened January 21 and goes through Oct. 31, 2017.

In an interview, the author and illustrator were each asked how they experience the sculpture park:

Maria Bajt said, "I think it feels magical to walk around alone in the park in the autumn. I’ve been out there at night with a headlamp, because many scenes in the book take place at night, so I was excited to see for myself. I was told to stomp and sing to keep the wild boars away. I came across the piece "Dining Room," which has a very Alice in Wonderland feel to it. Being cocky, I went further in, and I heard a bunch of cracking sounds, and I ran out frightened. What I carried away with me was that special atmosphere. I felt the presence of animals hiding in the bushes and trees, and the artworks seemed to be communicating with each other as if they shared a secret."

Jason Diakité said, "There are a lot of trees in the forest, but not that many in galleries. Sometimes the trees form a room, like the one around the straw sculpture Meditation in a Beech Wood. It becomes a spiritual environment. I like fantasy books, because they transport you. It’s the same thing in the park. I experience some of the artworks as religious — the saucer [Grey Clam] and the pyramid, whereas the red wall clashes completely. Art and nature mix together. Some pieces are clearly manmade, but others you can’t be sure about. Not about when they are from or who made them. There’s one tree with very special branches."