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Stockholm’s Bonniers Konsthall opens symposium and exhibition dedicated to the memories 0

Rita Kaže-Zumberga, specially for

Symposium –  “Art of Memory, “What do we remeber, why and how?”
Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm
Septemeber 4, 2013

Exhibition “Art of Memory
Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm
September 4 – November 24, 2013

What do we remember, and why? What sort of images do we share amongst ourselves from history, and how were they created? This autumn, the Bonniers Konsthall will be completely overrun with memories.


In honor of the opening of the exhibition series “Art of Memory”, Stockholm's Bonniers Konsthall is hosting a symposium in collaboration with the research program Time, Memory, Representation, at Södertörn University. The symposium will feature both the artistic and theoretic aspects on recent transformations in historical consciousness. Invited speakers will discuss not only what we remember today, but also why and how we remember things, as well as how this is mutually connected to the arts, the humanitarian sciences, and history – and in relation to society as a whole. Ever since Bonnier's early beginnings, it has expanded its program by illustrating the synergy that exists between art, literature and scientific research.

 Raqs Media Collective

“In the last few years, questions about memory and history have influenced our culture. In art, literature and national culture, we look more to the past than towards the future. We live in a time that is obsessed with remembering, with the past – but we don't realize that, over the last decades, historical consciousness has been changed and new perspectives have been added. “Art of Memory” contains a lot of alternative images from the past of artists,” is how Sara Arrhenius, director of Bonniers Art Gallery, describes her vision of the upcoming event. “The symposium's discussions will cover what, how and why we remember, and how memory is portrayed in contemporary art, cultural studies and history.”

The invited speakers are artists and researchers that participated in the project, as well as lecturers that advanced studies in the field of memory: Ina Blom, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Classics, History of Art and Ideas, University of Oslo; Gerard Byrne, artist; Victoria Fareld, Assistant Professor, Department of Literature and History of Ideas, Stockholm University;  Dan Karlholm, Professor, Art History, Södertörn University; Trond Lundemo, Professor of Cinema Studies, Stockholm University; Raqs Media Collective, an artist collective; Johan Redin, Researcher of Aesthetics, Södertörn University; Anda Rottenberg, curator, critic and art historian; and Hans Ruin, Professor of Philosophy, Södertörn University.

Among this interchange of lectures and ideas, the main feature of the symposium will be the presentations by researchers and artists. India-based Raqs Media Collective has always surprised with its philosophical – and provocative – approach to contemporary art. This three-person team (Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta) is always in motion – making films, editing books, curating exhibitions, or even directing productions. This time they will ponder changes in time and place – for instance, trans-located meridians and lost constellations.

Gerard Byrne

Gerard Byrne will renew forgotten moments of recent history with his unique capturing abilities using photography and video. His ability to look at people and things through his viewfinder from different angles and perspectives will give the theme of memory a decidedly idiosyncratic feel.

Art historian Anda Rottenberg will speak about the Polish artist Alina Szapocznikow, who died in 1973.  In the last few years, Szapocznikow's works have become highly recognized on the international scene, and the artist's name has regained it's former esteem. Her series of sculptures portraying painful memories has become especially well known, one of them becoming the main image used in the promotional campaign for the “Art of Memory” symposium. The symposium will include not only distanced memories of the artist, but also photographs, videos and letters from private archives.

Research presentations will reveal the idea behind the series of exhibitions around which a layer of philosophical and contemporary art has formed. Time, Memory, Representation is a study program at Södertörn University that has gathered 25 scholars from 14 different disciplines for a joint exploration of recent transformations in historical consciousness and its implications for the humanitarian and historical sciences.

The post-war period has witnessed an increased preoccupation with the role and significance of historical knowledge, and the relation between the present, past and future. During the last decades, a central academic concern that has emerged is the way that history is interpreted due to a linguistic and hermeneutic turn in philosophy, flawed critical cultural analysis, deeply established canons, post-colonial biased narratives, and shallow conceptual analysis.

As the program's webpage expounds: “The program explores this new common territory in three general sections organized along the key words: Time, Memory and Representation. The first section develops the conceptual historical critique of fundamental historical categories, including established chronologies; the second investigates how politics of memory and uses of history shape the relation to the past and explores the existential foundations for historical consciousness; and the third explores how different mediums (literature, film, language) shape and influence historical narratives and representations, and how this orients historical consciousness.”

Alina Szapocznikow. Cendrier de Célibataire, 1972


Once the symposium draws to a close, all are invited to delve deeper into the issues raised by “Art of Memory”, since related events will continue through the end of November. “The exhibition gives one the opportunity to move among various memorials. Museums, in cooperation with Bonniers, created this event to show unique places with a special history and meaning,” says Sara Arrhenius. “Everyone will have the opportunity to acquaint themselves with interesting programs, collections and archives that present stories of the past in various ways. The circle of work includes Vasastan – a place that contains the past and that creates our opinions on history.”

Arrhenius explains further:Since the start, Bonniers Konsthall has built a program with a strong trans-disciplinary profile. Previous collaboration includes fields such as music, film and theater. We also have an ongoing collaboration with different universities.”

In answer to's question on whether their own notions about memories changed while organizing the event, Arrhenius answered: “We now have realized how complex the creation of collective memories are, and how intertwined political, cultural and historical parameters are in creating our image of the past. The question of how memory is produced, kept and displayed in our culture is, of course, a pertinent issue today – with new technologies of memory emerging. Our project has different sources of origin, and our interests lie in highlighting the circle of small historical museums and archives around Bonniers Konsthall. They are all unique spaces for memory that are somewhat hidden. Another starting point was our interest in the research project Time, Memory, Representation, and how the work within this project could connect to contemporary artistic practice.”

Sara Arrhenius notes that this exhibition and symposium could be of great interest to visitors from the Baltic States: “One reason is, of course, the unique possibility to see works by Alina Szapocznikow and to hear Anda Rottenbergs talk about her practice. Then the symposium, in general, will evoke questions around the use and misuse of history in Europe, which is relevant for everyone..”

One definitely shouldn't miss how artist Cecilia Edefalk will allow the ghosts of history to appear in a series of paintings that embrace their history: there will be studies and documentation on the places where they have previously been spotted. In addition, Edelfalk's fans will be especially happy about the fact that her famous video work with August Strindberg (the “father” of modern Swedish literature, playwright, novelist, essayist and painter) – a 4 year-long interview – will be played as an audio piece in the Strindberg Museum.

Alina Szapocznikow

Alina Szapocznikow's sculptures and drawings will speak of the body's painful memories. Her exhibition will be manifold: it will be reminiscent of the memory of artistic practice, materials from private archives will be on display, and there will be films of her working in her studio and photographs of works that no longer exist, as well as documentation of her historic exhibitions, such as one that took place at the Lund Art Gallery in 1977.

Hans Rosentröm's audio piece will take the listener from Vasa Park to the Jewish Museum and Stockholm's Public Library. He will create associations with the role that location has had through ancient times in the memory of art, while also starting discussions on memory technologies in our digital age. In the Observatory Museum, Ann Böttcher will present a graphical world view from the viewpoint of her detailed drawings, while in the Music and Theater Library, Tarek Atoui will create a musical work from the electronic music studio archive.