Jacob Dahlgren, ”Painting into Space and the Meaning of Construction”

Jacob Dahlgren, Work as Method, 2013. Image: Andréhn-Schiptjenko.

Given his history of transforming everyday objects into large-scale installations and intricate constructions that hint at the power of excess and the void, it’s clear that Swedish artist Jacob Dahlgren is no stranger to repetition.

His artistry illuminates both his personal obsession and a commitment to following one path, one notion of simplicity or self-elevated design until its completion. In so doing, Dahlgren emphasises that less is more – that Minimalism still possesses a visual impact on viewers, moulding the mindsets of the masses. Embracing the linear, abstract and geometric, and the human desire to locate order and beauty in a world that often provides neither, Dahlgren’s solo exhibition – his second here – features works (many site-specific or performative) that express how an artist can cultivate awe-inspiring impressions stemming from deliberation and recurring tasks, and from the alteration of domestic objects and common items such as weighing scales, coloured pencils and darts.

Here there appears to be a shift in focus from primarily highlighting Dahlgren’s personal relationship with chosen patterns, stripes or solo-focused work methods, begun nearly a decade ago in works such as Colour Reading and Contexture (2005), towards including everyday citizens in works such as in December 5 Demonstration (2007) (alongside complementary demonstrations occurring in multiple locations worldwide), where strangers walk streets holding his uniquely designed banners and placards (a protest inevitably universalised and anonymised by this motion, for their iconography has no recognisable association) or No Conflict, No Irony: I Love the Whole World (2013).

Here, a colourfully designed 100-metre-long banner, text-free and patterned with coloured lines and shapes, was constructed by the public and sports enthusiasts and carried through Edinburgh, from Meadowbank Sports Centre to Salisbury Crags. This tendency to utilize banners, placards and flags quickly steers one into the realm of politics, asking one to take a closer look at societal constructs, cultural conventions and normative behaviour. In such cases, the artist creates variants of tools like abstract, geometrically designed placards, subverting any tendency to represent real-world ideologies that might be perceived as problematic, vacant or ineffectual.

Oftentimes, Dahlgren’s stripes are incorporated into military and service-oriented uniforms; this visual trademark has been present since his earliest investigations. Yet his relationship with the stripe evolves. Firstly, he obsessively collects and wears striped T-shirts. The film Neoconcrete Space (2012) features 1,027 striped T-shirts that he has worn and will continue to wear until death; in the film Non Object (2013), the artist clandestinely stalks strangers coincidentally wearing similar striped shirts; in Work as Method (2013), stripes are displayed via manipulated coloured pencils placed side by side: parallel, perpendicular, intersecting. In his performance piece and abstract ‘painting’ Neoconcrete Ballad (2013), Dahlgren creates rules for others to collectively create a new piece; they drill holes into the gallery wall, then later place coloured plugs into each hole; the spectator is only able to view the holes, never the individuals working or making the hole; they’re hidden behind a wall as they work.

This gesture persuades one to consider their relationship with work and production, for when a consumer is removed from production, it is easier to objectify the worker and the product. The artist’s choice to highlight the division between spectator and worker mimics the stifled rapport between producer and consumer, so that this performance serves as commentary on how patterns currently present in daily life can be harmful. Yet Dahlgren’s works remain playful even when they have community-based participation in mind.

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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 »