”Imagine Being Here Now”

The Long Now Foundation, 2011, image: The Long Now Foundation

From the perspective of one who had viewed the Sixth Momentum Biennial before the recent massacres in Oslo and Utøya Island, and who now proceeds to discuss it afterward, the biennial’s title “Imagine Being Here Now” carries even more significance. Momentum’s curatorial statement reads: “The inherent present of each individual not only extends to momentary impressions but to his or her past as well as their expectations of the future, owing to the fact that we have the ability to imagine being somewhere else entirely, in any other place at any other time.” It now seems difficult to imagine “being somewhere else entirely” and impossible to ignore the tragedy’s influence on arts and culture in Scandinavia and beyond.

In the event’s “reader,” published by Mousse, Momentum’s Nordic curators draw attention to collaborative setbacks. Yet the question remains: What steps, if any, can be taken to ensure more successful collaborations? More provocative than their analysis of such obstacles, though, is the curatorial team’s attempt to override any preconceived notion that they are expected to only feature “Scandinavian” artists. They united a motley sample of international participants, including Michael Baers, Simon Starling, and Mandla Reuter.

At such expansive events, which are influenced by a mélange of external forces, curatorial will can be interpreted as being in either accord or discord with the intentions of chosen artists. The ideological turf wars, even played out within single pieces, are sometimes discreet but at other times obvious, as in specific works that seem to bite their thumbs at inequity-at-large yet still tacitly sanction their own participation (perhaps paying unintended homage to Simone de Beauvoir’s opportunistic theory of altering a dominant system via the “inside job”). One such example is provided by Heman Chong’s performative reading (Simultaneous, 2011) of Maarit Verronen’s 1996 book Kulkureita ja unohtajia (Wanderers and Forgetters), a collection of fourteen texts questioning whether community can exist when selfishness and inane bureaucracy usurp and violate personal space. Another instance of criticism appearing hand in hand with participation is Wooloo’s Two Years’ Untouched Garden, 2011. The Danish collective’s proposal for the biennial—that Galleri F15’s lawn be left untouched as a protest against Norway’s environmental policies—was shunned by district politicians. With this original vision nixed, Wooloo instead exhibited a paper trail recording its negotiation process as well as its discontent not only with the supercilious mix of nonaction and detrimental action on the part of UN-REDD (an environmental department of the United Nations), but also with Momentum’s thematic and spatial inaccessibility. One may feel perplexed by Momentum’s incongruous curatorial jargon pertaining to time, space, and relativity, yet specific works serve as guiding lights―even if they turn out to be not stars but satellites. 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 »