Björn Kjelltoft, ”I Promise, I Will Never Be Your Friend. No Matter What, Ever…”

Björn Kjelltoft
Björn Kjelltoft, 2011, image: Gallery Niklas Belenius

White, billowing curtains display seemingly banal yet biting phrases appropriated from a disheartened couple’s filmic encounter in their hotel room. The same bubbly, delicious font used by Dunkin’ Donuts (no coincidence) is found alongside material items associated with conventional romance or courtship: lit candlesticks, matching bathrobes and house slippers, hotel curtains splayed with overused phrases that punctuate initial encounters between the fragmented couple, in a gesture to express any classic couple’s journey towards heartbreak and disillusionment. The unexpected presence of Dunkin’ Donuts symbolizes unhealthy, excessive dietary consumption, and the once meaningful, intimate portrayal of a relationship is reduced to a sugary morsel of unwanted baggage.

The title on the curtain, “I Promise, I Will Never Be Your Friend. No Matter What, Ever…”, is drawn from the dialogue of Wes Anderson’s short film Hotel Chevalier starring the striking Natalie Portman, in which she proceeds to break up with her unsuspecting boyfriend. The artist claims (or at least his press release does) that the exhibition is “a theatrical representation with the relationship plot at its heart. The end of a relationship and the idea of entropy form the dual engine in this story, driven by a set of dramatic events.” But what can be gained when the notion of ‘the standard relationship’ between two individuals is transferred onto other power relations present in life? Such as the one Kjelltoft makes the dramatic leap to: between the consumer and the consumed.

The viewer should consider: what remains of real value, when tedious cycles of consumption and waste also effect the personal relationships many find to be their reality? In this era, some may be caught taking inventory of their own lives, to discover that they are tragically bored or out of joint. Many tire of each other, so they locate someone else even more ‘compatible’ than the last mythical entity they fixated upon. There are so many choices; choices once made logically, soundly, can be overridden by surfacing alternatives which didn’t exist prior.

Like the space between being in a relationship or not being in one, the decision to either consume or not consume is equally confusing and ambivalent. When does one know if they are ‘in’ or ‘out’ without the media’s coded indicators or keywords associated with stepping stones either towards or away from any goal sought after: to be single, to be together, to be alone but together, to be together but alone. Also present in the exhibition is a hypnotizing slideshow displaying photographs of flimsy paper napkins from Dunkin’ Donuts which slowly disintegrate in water, leading to the overall impression of “I Promise, I Will Never Be Your Friend. No Matter What, Ever…” Whatever once was won’t always be; whatever was forever really wasn’t much longer than the time it takes to go through a drive-thru; whatever was once thought of as necessary was only wanted—and only for a spell. Any definitive answer or choice leads to one pretty trap or another, but an arrogant world continues to exude confidence in its choosing.To see the review in context, click here.

Johannes Heldén, “The Exploding Book”

Johannes Heldén
Johannes Heldén, Clouds, 2017.

As one enters the space temporarily designated for Swedish artist and poet Johannes Heldén’s The Exploding Book at Konstakademin’s in Stockholm, one detects that Heldén is receptive to nuance; each creative gesture confirms his dedication to both text and image, expressed with equitable consideration. More »

Malin Gabriella Nordin, “Floating from Within”

Malin Gabriella Nordin, Veil of Dreams, 2017. Image: Gallery Steinsland Berliner.

Stockholm-based artist Malin Gabriella Nordin is one of many Swedish women artists who resort to the basics – or perhaps the old ways, meaning they’re not particularly interested in the digital. More »

“Survival Kit 9”

Andris Eglītis, Laboratory of Poetic Research, 2017. Image: Jacquelyn Davis.

The 9th edition of Survival Kit is orchestrated by a small team of Baltic and Scandinavian curators: Jonatan Habib Engqvist, Solvita Krese and Inga Lāce. All possess a background in organizing independently and within the confines of institutions, which may be their strong point—their fluidity. More »

The 9th Momentum Biennial

Jenna Sutela, Sporulating Paragraph, 2017. Image: Momentum 9.

Momentum 9, taking place in the industrial town of Moss, Norway, is being curated by Ulrika Flink, Ilari Laamanen, Jacob Lillemose, Gunhild Moe, and Jón B.K. Ransu, who together represent the Scandinavian region. With this biennial’s focus on ‘alienation’, the curators joined forces to determine how alien processes and entities are infused in our lives through technological, ecological and social transformations. More »

Klas Eriksson, “Vet din mamma var du e?”

Klas Eriksson
Klas Eriksson, Evidence of Patchwork, 2017. Image: Göteborgs Konsthall.

Swedish artist Klas Eriksson has developed a practice rooted in examining subcultures via works in public spaces and spontaneous performances. With an interest in how power flows and how crowds function, the artist attempts to unpack sociopolitical dynamics using playful tactics. More »

Lovisa Ringborg, “Night Remains”

Lovisa Ringborg
Lovisa Ringborg, Fountain, 2017. Image: Cecilia Hillström Gallery.

In Lovisa Ringborg’s second exhibition at this gallery, the artist upholds the argument that displaying a set of harmonious works can be more potent than a plethora of free-floating entities. More »

Przemek Pyszczek, “1989”

Przemek Pyszczek
Przemek Pyszczek, Public Relief No 6, 2016. Image: Gallery Belenius.

Polish-born, Canadian-raised, Berlin-based artist Przemek Pyszczek displays new works which are primarily sculptural and mixed media, with stints into collage. More »

Ulf Rollof, “Kleptomaniac”

Ulf Rollof
Ulf Rollof, Hungry Stranded, 2016. Image: CFHILL.

Sequestered above the restaurant Nosh & Chow in Stockholm (designed by Barcelona-based Lázaro Rosa-Violán), renowned Swedish artist Ulf Rollof’s current solo exhibition is the last installment in a trilogy that began in Mexico City. More »

“Personal”

Dziurlikowska
Magdalena Dziurlikowska, Corona Radiata, 2016. Image: Gotlands Konstmuseum.

Differentiating between public and private spheres can be challenging. This group exhibition focuses on how one might successfully share a subjective experience when most individuals are conditioned to distance themselves from others. More »