Anastasia Ax, “Swallowed Fear”

Anastasia Ax, view of Swallowed Fear, 2014. Image: Anastasia Ax.

Anastasia Ax does not shy away from the visceral, using her hands and body to construct raw images, sculptures, sound and performative pieces. The Stockholm-based artist’s medium is ink and paper, but she provokes one to rethink how they can serve as charged mediums, and she has a history of collaborating with experimental artists such as Lars Siltberg (in the case of this exhibition, Siltberg and Ax opened with a performance) and Marja-Leena Sillanpää. She often adopts the role of curious detective or archaeologist, searching or hunting for that which does not obviously prevail in the world as it appears to most. Ax’s work possesses an archival quality; she catalogues, collects and sifts through debris, the remnants and remainders of her creative journey. The works that make up her exhibitions are like relics from a broken era.

In this exhibition, Ax appears interested in the delicate boundary between nature and society, the works on show suggesting that these spheres aren’t in accord–that chaos and ferality inevitably reign despite attempts to rein them in. The show consists of posters and brittle, paper-based sculptures that insinuate both the constructive energy and dark side of change since the artist fixates on transformations that are simultaneously progressive and destructive; these works ask one to contemplate how mankind’s narrative has been documented for centuries using simila fibres and to reconsider the direction we are going, together and individually. In the press release, Ax insinuates the fact that these same fibres are derived from plants; our history has often been inscribed using such natural materials. Society, plants and paper likewise deteriorate and decompose, leaving room for new constructions inspired and fuelled by recycled energies. Additionally, the half-century-old paper Ax chooses to use is symbolic of humanity’s intellectual culture–fragile, deteriorating, layered. On the gallery floor sit two sculptures emphasising the violent, unpredictable quality of existence. Curled paper bubbles up–charred, crumpled and sitting atop piles of creamy paper, as if tainted by a now-silenced war zone or catastrophe. The unsaid, muted and masked motivate Ax’s feverish spectacles, which tend to be wordless and cryptic.

The poetic images in the posters portray moments during which culture moves towards and merges with nature. Each of them seems to be a window into what went awry at a given point in history (eg, images focus on apocalyptic, shock-and-awe moments: blackened cityscapes, intricate vortices), yet it is difficult to decipher what particular points in history the works refer to. It is this ambiguity which makes Ax’s work alluring: as if presenting once-buried hieroglyphics intended to represent the downfall of any culture from any era, she creates a constrained language. She forces an alternative communication, provoking the imagination with a unique array of codes, symbols and scenarios that can be widely interpreted. Like filmic stills that relay neither the climax nor denouement, these illustrations nevertheless convey Ax’s fragmented narrative of unexpected pivotal moments. Images of hands, eyes and off-kilter visages exist alongside circular objects and words (e.g. ’void’) engulfed in black ink. The power of each displayed image is magnified by the choice to minimise language, constraining any message via the usage of ink and paper.

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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 »