Sam Hultin


Are You There Kai? 2019

Performance at Stockholm Trans Film Fest

In the performance Are You There Kai? I’m trying to have a conversation with Kai Gullmar (1905 - 1982) – one of Sweden’s most popular musicians in the 1930ies and 40ies. Composing over 500 songs including hits like Swing it magistern, Jag har en liten melodi and Med dig i mina armar, Kai was indeed one of their times biggest stars touring and playing all over Sweden and also composing music to other musicians and to films.

Kai was assigned female at birth but always performed in what was seen as male clothing and also took on different masculine stage names. The name that stuck was Kai Gullmar which they also used in their private life.

Because a former lack of words describing different trans identities people have spoken of Kai as a woman and have later also stressed Kai’s romantic relationships to women and thereby identifying Kai as a lesbian.

In the performance I try to talk to Kai (whose voice is edited out from an interview they did on a Swedish radio show in 1981) and ask how they themselves thought about their identity and how they navigated in a time and society that had other understandings of gender.

Through misunderstandings and talking past each other the performances makes visible the difficulty of understanding language from the past and encourages other ways of listening to and understanding history and identity.

<< Back