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Art That Sticks. An Exhibition at Magasin 3 0

Alida Ivanov from Stockholm

On the Tip of My Tongue
Pierre Bismuth, Tamara Henderson, Miranda July, Stina Nordendsam, Tino Sehgal, Danh Vo
Magasin 3, Stockholm
September 13 – December 8, 2013

Opportunities to see art or take part in an art event are pretty scarce in the summer. Magasin 3 kick-started On the Tip of My Tongue, which is a series of multiple projects and events. These are built to expand the concept of an exhibition by taking it outside of the realm of the physical space of Magasin 3, and then taking it back into it.

Stina Nordenstam's sound installation Imagine a Human

Once a week since July 1st, and continuing until mid-November, I and many others will get an email from Miranda July. The project, entitled We Think Alone, consists of email-threads by, among others, Lena Dunham, Kirsten Dunst, and DanhVo. They write on a given subject – a dream that they had, money, an email they didn’t send, and so on. The build-up continued when Swedish musician and artist Stina Nordenstam took part in the music festival Way Out West in Gothenburg, at the beginning of August. She presented her sound installation Tänk dig en människa (her own translation: Imagine a Human), which is now in the exhibition-part of the series On the Tip of My Tongue, at Magasin 3. This is a way of looking at an artwork from different angles, by changing the context of it.

 Works of Canadian artist Tamara Henderson

In the on-going exhibition, we are first met by the work of Canadian artist Tamara Henderson. Her chairs kind of lead you in. These are everyday objects that have been elevated to art as dictated from the subconscious. The chairs were designed under hypnosis, and afterward, made into real objects. Each chair has the name of the city in which Henderson was located during the hypnosis session. Straight ahead, into a darkened part of the space, her 16 mm films are being shown. In these, she continues to explore the subconscious and its relationship to objects and art.

The piece by Tino Sehgal, This is New, is a choreographed situation that explores what happens between the visitor and the artist. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see/experience this one. The line was too long, so I read this instead: Tino Sehgal: Invisible art worth £100

 Danh Vo’s copper work We the People

My favorite piece, by far, in the exhibition is Danh Vo’s We the People: the Statue of Liberty in a scale of 1:1, shredded into 400 pieces of copper that are two pennies-thick and never to be conjoined. The name of the work comes from the first line of the introduction of the United States’ Constitution from 17 September, 1787. The statue was erected about 100 years later, designed by Fréderic Auguste Bartholdi and then dedicated in 1886. It was seen as a gift to the US from the French people, but was actually a way to spread democratic values; the meaning of it hasn’t changed that much over the years, but I’m not really sure what the statue means for Danh Vo. In the end, the meaning of it is probably quite secondary for me, in this case. The composition of the pieces on the ground floor at Magasin 3 has taken that first spot. It looks like a strange metallic burial ground; it’s really beautiful. The thin copper layers add a certain fragility and ephemeral air to this gigantic endeavor, while the copper itself makes it seem so strong. The copper, turning green after oxidation, will make the piece even more beautiful; it will definitely age with grace.

But, I have to admit that it’s been a bit of a struggle to write a review of this one because my opinion of it hasn’t really developed any further from the initial “it’s nice…” impression. Did I feel anything? Did it perplex me? Make me wonder? Make me question? Did it make me angry? Anything else than “it’s nice…”? The inspiration for the theme springs from Untilled, by Pierre Huyghe, which was shown at Documenta 13. The work consists of a garden, compost and living animals: a dog and a sculpture of a woman with a head of bees; the questions asked are “can life be art?”, or, “can art be alive?” (I’m aware that this is a very shortened and generalized version of what the work actually is). The curators, Tessa Praun and Richard Julin, agree that something about this work stuck with them – in the sense that they couldn’t really describe or grasp the experience that it was. They wanted to create an experience that moves spatially and virtually, indoors and outdoors, and that extends from the walls of Magasin 3. It started by email, kept going at a music festival, and now continues into the kunsthalle and will…proceed with Pierre Bismuth’s work-in-progress/project, which can’t be described just yet. Suspense is created. 

Miranda July's project We Think Alone

Why can’t I go past “it’s nice”, then? The exhibition has a divided outline. Each artist gets his or her own space. I really like the fact that you get to encounter each single artist individually. It gives you an opportunity to partake in just one experience at a time. However, this division continues thematically, which disturbs the narrative. How do we go from Miranda July’s name-dropping emails, to Stina Nordenstams’s leading boy-voice, to Tamara Henderson’s subconscious objects, and to Tino Seghal’s visitor/artist relationship? And then down the stairs, to Danh Vo’s statue pieces, and ending up at Pierre Bismuth’s “work that cannot be talked about”? The show has definitely been deliberately built for multiple visits, but will it add up to an art experience that sticks with you?