The Moderna Exhibition – Society Acts Moderna Museet Malmö, Sweden September 20, 2014 – January 25, 2015
Every four years, the Moderna Exhibition presents an inventory of Swedish contemporary art. Previously held twice at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, this year’s exhibition differs in two geographical ways. First, the exhibition has moved to Malmö; secondly, the focus is not only on Sweden, but on contemporary art from six other Baltic-area countries: Finland, Denmark, Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. In total, 38 artists and artist groups will participate in the Moderna Exhibition, which is subtitled “Society Acts”.
The curators of the exhibition, Andreas Nilsson and Maija Rudovska, were gracious enough to answer a few questions from Arterritory.com.
54 artists participated in the Moderna Exhibition 2010 – and all came from Sweden. This year's exhibition features 38 artists from several Scandinavian countries, the Baltic States, as well as from Poland and Finland. One could say that the the Moderna Exhibition series has completely changed the essence of its original concept – now there is more of a focus on artworks that fit within a certain theme, rather than just an overview of what is going on in one region, namely, the Swedish contemporary art scene. Could you explain the reasoning behind this switch from a regional/geographic focus to a conceptual one?
For the first time, the Moderna Exhibition is taking place at the Moderna Museet in Malmö, and it coincides with the hundredth anniversary of the Baltic Exhibition, which at that time represented culturally diverse material from the whole Baltic region. This served as a good reason to broaden the Moderna Exhibition by shifting its focus from being solely a survey of Swedish contemporary art, to that of a conceptually structured contemporary art exhibition that uses the Baltic Sea region as a frame for its research area.
The two previous Moderna Exhibitions took place at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, in 2006 and 2010. Since the end of 2009, the Moderna Museet also has a branch in Malmö. It was also this reason that made it feel natural to present the exhibition in Malmö this time.
Has the art work represented in this exhibition been shown anywhere else? Were the works produced specifically for this exhibition?
The works selected for the exhibition are both new productions and previously exhibited artworks. Moreover, we decided to include a few historical artworks, from artists such as Zenta Dzividzinska, Tadeusz Kantor and Björn Lövin, for example.
There are many new pieces that were made specifically for this occasion, by artists such as AaBbCc, Patrik Aarnivaara, Egle Budvytyte & Bart Groenendaal, Joachim Hamou, Mette Winckelmann, Lea Porsager and Michala Paludan, among others.
Tell us some more about the exhibition’s theme, “Society Acts”. Why have you chosen to name it so? How broad of an interpretation does it allow for?
The title “Society Acts” refers to a broad meaning of the word “act”, which can be understood as action, visible or invisible movement, performance, transformation, dynamics, etc. The title works as a comprehensive and transparent concept through which various themes and directions can be read. Several works in the exhibition engage in a performative, participatory expression in which the relationship between observation and action is central.
Other aspects investigated by the artists are, for example, the relationship between fact and fiction, the influence of time in reading images and text, and also the interrelations between personal and collective identities.
How did the artists deal with the theme? What kind of artworks can we see in the exhibition?
The exhibition presents various different themes and topics that range from socially engaged practices, queer and feminist discourses, the public and private spheres, and socio-political aspects, to interests in speculative realism theories and private encounters. The intention was to produce a diverse yet cohesive exhibition that opens up a space for discussion and thinking about contemporaneity.
What kind of media did the artists use?
There's a range of different media represented in the exhibition, starting with paintings, drawings, sculpture, prints and photography, to video art, performance, site-specific objects, artist books and so on. The media utilized was a secondary aspect when we selected the artists.
In the press release for the exhibition, it states that some of the works require audience participation, and not just passive observations. How much are visitors really involved in the exhibition?
Every work in the exhibition asks for some form of involvement from the visitor – especially in relation to time because “Society Acts” is a time-consuming exhibition. We have also included a film program that is six-and-a-half hours long. Each of the works shown in the exhibition has a specific background and/or context which, in order to engage with it (and the whole exhibition), requires one's attention. There are also several performances and works that are exhibited in public spaces, for example, Johanna Gustafsson Fürst’s “White Pillars” (2014), in Möllevångstorget in Malmö, and Lea Porsager’s newly produced work “Golden Insider – 81 Inflated Facets” (2014), which spreads throughout the museum and out into the open. The artist Joachim Hamou will implement a performance titled “UIP 27” (2014) – a round-table debate that the audience can follow and engage in. This is being done in collaboration with the local theatere Inkonst, and the work addresses the problematics arising from the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
What have the artistic duo of Miks Mitrēvics & Kristīne Kursiša contributed? And Zenta Dzividzinska?
Miks Mitrēvics & Kristīne Kursiša have produced a new version of their previously-shown work “Let Me Google That for You”, which focuses on the circulation of information and the search for different methods of disseminating it. They use the Google “filter” as both a source and a tool for revealing the hierarchies imposed by it, as well as for their personal matters – as a “map” for their internal and external journeys.
Zenta Dzividzinska is represented by a selection of original photos from her personal archive that features her series on the Riga Pantomime (ca.1964-67). Pantomime performances offered a certain level of freedom of expression while remaining voiceless. This selection of Dzividzinska’s series on pantomime will be exhibited for the first time.
How would you characterize the overall feeling/atmosphere of the exhibition?
The Moderna Exhibition 2014 – “Society Acts” provides rich and broad material on various themes that cover both historical involvement and current demands. The artists in the exhibition move between perceived experiences and dreamed aspirations. We hope that the exhibition sets a tone about both art’s and society’s relationship to contemporaneity, in which the complexities of constant shifts and transformations are faced head-on.