Christian Saldert, The Politics of the Unpolitical

Christian Saldert, The Politics of the Unpolitical, 2011, image: Christian Saldert

Only a little by way of explanation is provided about the artist Christian Saldert on his site or on Galleri Kleerup’s site representing him or his recent digital-poetic solo exhibition “Bodies of the Unreal” inspired by found, appropriated web images of American nudists from the mid-twentieth century. Influenced by pop art and an avant-garde collage aesthetic, Saldert’s work stands alone in their own Scandinavian terrain of beauty—mysterious, detached from a world known to most: a suggested “unreal” one, or as a press release remarks, Saldert creates a discussion “about the World Wide Web and our era, about our persona on the Internet and the pretense of being someone you are not.”

Often using large-scale dimensions, the artist’s subject matter adds emphasis to an underrated anonymous or hush-hush view (works such as Funeral Parlour, 2009, are sexually charged, sacrificial, sadomasochistic), and select titles such as To Hell with Culture, 2011, and The Hierarchy of Knowledge, 2009, hint at a rejection of entrenched authority and powers that dictate those who may discover themselves privy—even victim. They are a reminder that ”Golden Boys,” ”Prodigal Sons” and ”Art Stars” frequently stem from already-established positions of inheritance. In other words: privilege does not predicate prodigy. It’s good fun to take a peak behind the curtain: where do worthwhile ideas originate, who is doing the work, who is speaking, who is heard, who (or what) is shunned?

Often portraying rosy-cheeked, seemingly innocent children reminiscent of Hummel figurines which grew in popularity post-World War II in Germany and Switzerland (oddly enough, these same collector’s items have been farcically highlighted or referred to as Satanic, indicators of Aryan or European imperialism and middle-class, consumerist malaise), Saldert’s work uses unbridled potentiality as a thematic forerunner. One example illustrating a vibrant set of youths is Saldert’s The Politics of the Unpolitical, 2011. Ironically, their pastel glow is positioned against the scratchy background of an annihilated cityscape and solitary, leafless tree. Remaining architectural frames resembling apartment complexes in the background are in shambles, hinting at a post-apocalyptic aftermath. The sky appears to be filled with ash or other precipitates.

Are these two soft sprites future lovers? Do they share a platonic camaraderie accessible only to them? What do they mutually regard, and should one read into the fact that no authority figure accompanies their exploration? They appear playful, liberated—like almost everyone either openly or secretly desires to be. Their combined energies, perhaps, serve to override a previous disaster, together scheming to unleash an imagined future.

The phrase the politics of the unpolitical connotes both personal responsibility and the absence of such. When is any thought or action unpolitical? The decision to not act is still a decision—everything and everyone is fundamentally political. One person’s decision to not act affects another individual’s decision to act affects a territory’s ability to progress affects a child born affects a vision uncharted. Not even art escapes such forces of causation and influence. Russian writer Vladimir Nabokov was obsessed with butterflies and a committed taxonomist; he loved the delicate creature’s detail and symmetry. Consider American mathematician Edward Lorenz’s butterfly effect, where one flapping wing inspires the air to tremor causing a gale of wind which becomes a tornado which destroys a house and everyone in it except one entity who survives to become a catalyst for a revolution, or in contrast: a nominal, traumatized offshoot. Underestimating any seemingly insignificant action (or non-action) seems unwise.
To see the review in context, click here.

Edgar Cleijne & Ellen Gallagher, “Better Dimension”

Edgar Cleijne & Ellen Gallagher
Installation view. Image: Jacquelyn Davis.

Presenting collaborations between Dutch artist Edgar Cleijne and US artist and filmmaker Ellen Gallagher, ‘Better Dimension’ at Stockholm’s Bonniers Konsthall includes experimental works that provide socio-political commentary on US history and race relations from a cosmic, obscure distance. More »

Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art (RIBOCA1)

Aslan Gaisumov
Aslan Gaisumov, People of No Consequence, 2016.

For the first Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art, curator Katarina Gregos has chosen to view Latvia as ‘the center of the world,’ where other regions and nationalities become satellites. This is refreshing, for the Baltics have previously been considered to have a peripheral status. More »

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 »