November. This is probably the most depressive month of the whole year. To go on a gallery round, or to even go outside, really, or to EVEN just meet people, feels kind of wrong. November is for movies: being either in a dark theater or at home. So, in the shadow of the Stockholm Film Festival, I started my gallery round (semi-reluctantly) a bit earlier, so as to get into the mood of running around for the evening. It started off as the same old route, but with some small pit-stops along the way.
AnnaElleGallery is exhibiting Beata Fransson and Bigert & Bergström at Gallery Niklas Belenius. Both exhibitions opened on November 9th.
Beata Fransson AnnaElleGallery November 9 – December 9, 2013
Upon entering AnnaElleGallery, the first thing that meets you is a reflection of yourself. Beata Fransson’s installation Studio Work consists of large foldable screens that alternate between panels of photographs and mirrors, creating a maze through the gallery space. Your walking almost becomes predestined: there are no alternatives in walking through it, and you’re left with only one way of moving. Fransson bases her work on the history and present state of portrait photography. She explores how the high frequency of self-portrayal evolves ‘the image’, and in extension, how photography has changed the way we look at and translate images today.
Bigert & Bergström “The Drought” Gallery Niklas Belenius November 9 – December 8, 2012
I continued in the darkness (this was around 4 pm and yes, it was dark already) and went by Bigert & Bergström’s The Drought, at Gallery Niklas Belenius. I saw the show quickly during its opening, but this really deserves an extra look. It’s hard to explain, but this show is a perfect next step in relationship to their previous work. It’s not often you get to see that type of a limbo-exhibition – in the middle between the past and the future, between reality and fantasy.
For this exhibition, Mats Bigert and Lars Bergström went on a couple of research trips to the Mediterranean: one to the ancient salt pans of Margherita di Savoia on the Adriatic coast of Italy, and the other to the newly-built desalination plant at the Llobregat River, outside Barcelona in Spain. The first facility subtracts the salt, and the latter extracts it from the enormous basin of the sea. Bigert & Bergström use salt as a symbol for thirst, and have used it in most of the works in the show. This can be especially seen in the crystal-shaped light pieces, Salt Pan Crystal, which are the first thing you see when you enter the gallery space: salt is not only reflected in the name and shape of the piece, but also in the imagery depicted on the work: landscapes made up of the desalination process. Here the two artists still investigate climactic threats/changes, and connect it to how we live and how the earth copes with it: in this case, our relationship to salt water vs fresh water.
Daido Moriyama “Hokkaido/The World Through My Eyes” Galleri Riis November 14 - December 21, 2013
I ran off to Fredsgatan to see Daido Moriyama’s Hokkaido/The World Through My Eyes at Galleri Riis. The Japanese photographer gives an account of his stay in Hokkaido in 1978. During it he suffered from depression, and as a form of self-medication, he constantly photographed his surroundings.
The gallery’s first room sets the mood. The photos, in rows with no space between them, create a flow that almost mimics a film. They can be seen as memories, rather than documentation: moments in time, but at the same time, they are hard to place in time. Several of the photographs show travelling of different sorts: trains, buses, boats and seemingly endless roads. They make up a narrative through this, and you become a part of the story. During the time that Moriyama spent in Hokkaido, he took about 2,000 photos, so this is just a small part on display.
Moving further into the gallery and into the showroom, there are some of Moriyama’s more recent works. These digital color photos are all from Tokyo and from the publication Color 2008-2012. These large-format prints give the same intensive examination of a city and its people – a very similar feeling to the prints in the first room of the exhibition.
Carnegie Art Awards The Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts November 14 – December 8, 2013
The surprise on this route was the Carnegie Art Awards. It’s an award established by the Carnegie Investment Bank to promote Nordic contemporary painting, and is awarded to three artists. It was founded in 1998 and is basically an exhibition that tours the Nordic countries: in connection to this, they publish a book with all of the participating artists. This year, Dag Erik Elgin (NO) won SEK 1,000,000; Sophie Tottie (SE) – SEK 600,000; and A Kassen (DK) – SEK 400,000. In addition, a grant of SEK 100,000 was given to Davið Örn Halldórsson (IS).
The exhibition is being held at The Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts (not to be confused with The Royal Institute of Art) and is sharing its space with the National Museum, so when you run around in the building, you see signs for the museum scattered around. There are several things that I didn’t like about the show, but most of them are connected to the fact that the show is too disseminated: first, you had to go up to the fourth floor to see one part of it; then, on the second floor, once you think you've “seen everything”, you realize that there is yet another back-room in the beginning part. It just didn’t feel cohesive.
Christian Andersson “While You Were Sleeping” GalerieNordenhake November 14 – December 22, 2013
After that I, made my way to Hudiksvallsgatan. Christian Andersson’s exhibition While You Were Sleeping, at GalerieNordenhake, was really nice. I never expect to like Andersson’s work, but I am always surprised. The best thing about his work is that it is built up in so many different layers. Visually, they often trick you, and after having dissected their meaning, you find references to history, high and popular culture, psychology, and so on – and all of this could be contained in just in one piece.
In the exhibition, Andersson has constructed a contradictory narrative of secrets and realization. He uses the concept of the museum to propose alternative versions of the past, and in extension, he tries to develop new canons of knowledge. Andersson shows his fascination for the Rorschach test in a series of works that consist of rotating blots that seem to be three-dimensional in their movement. It is shown both as an iconic cultural symbol and as a specific moment in the historical development of psychoanalysis.
Rob Hann “I Dream A Highway” Christian Larsen November 14 – December 15, 2013
Then I went up to Christian Larsen, which is hosting the Rob Hann exhibition I Dream A Highway. Hann’s photos are inspired by the traditional road-trip across the USA – the one that we so often see in films or other forms of popular culture. Perhaps “inspired” is the wrong word for it, because what the pictures depict is exactly that – a road-trip across the USA, with all of the romanticism that that entails. This creates a feeling of déjà vu, because either you have seen this before, or you have read about it, or you have already experienced it in some other way.
Jacob Dahlgren “Painting into Space and the Meaning of Construction” Andrehn-Schiptjenko November 14 – December 22, 2013
At Andrehn-Schiptjenko, Jacob Dahlgren is showing his second solo exhibition, Painting into Space and the Meaning of Construction. It is like a compilation of geometric and abstract patterns in the vernacular world. You recognize the artist himself by the striped t-shirts that he’s worn for the past 13 years, and which he plans on wearing throughout his life; he becomes an exhibition in himself.
He uses the striped t-shirt in the film Non Object, in which the camera follows and films people who are wearing striped shirts – the filmed persons being completely unawares that they are being filmed.
The performance piece Neoconcrete Ballad is a large-scale abstract painting that is being created on-site by wall plugs of different colors and sizes. The painting is being continually added on to during the length of the exhibition. People hidden behind the wall drill holes and put plugs in for a few hours each day, all according to directions that are given by the artist.
My personal favorite pieces in the show are all part of the section titled Work as Method – large-scale canvases with multicolored pencils that create different patterns. These are so obsessive in their form that I really couldn’t take my eyes off of them.
I ended my evening at the artist-run Minibar Artist Space, for a talk on collaboration within the arts as a part of “Foxhole” – a discussion series organized by art critic and curator Jacquelyn Davis. The discussion evolved around how to create sustainable cooperation between different cultural actors such as curators, artists and so on. Foxhole,in itself, is an attempt to strengthen creative connections and reliable networks between local and independent curators, and through that, create an alternative platform for brainstorming, troubleshooting and knowledge-building. In other words: sharing is caring. It was an interesting event that provided discussion and a wonderful detour on my selected gallery route.