• Sweden's news in English

Artists' take on Sweden at the Moderna Museet

The Local · 15 Oct 2010, 09:36

Published: 15 Oct 2010 09:36 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Now on view at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm is "The Moderna Exhibition 2010". Running until January 9th, it is the second in a series that occurs every four years.

The intention is to present an overview of Swedish art today, but of course, it is nearly impossible to define Swedish art simply by its national borders. For this reason, the exhibition includes many international artists who are active in Sweden, as well as Swedish artists who are active abroad.

This year’s installment features the work of 54 artists (28 women and 26 men). As the artists’ works are so varied, there is no overarching theme for the show.

Rather, as Moderna’s curator of Nordic Artists Fredrik Liew explains, they have identified four contexts where these artists intersect: “images of Sweden, discussions about authorship and narration, revisiting modernist formal idioms, and the ethereal and spiritual.”

The overall aesthetic of the installation is airy and light, but the strongest works are to be found in the darkest rooms, in video installations from Ann-Sofie Sidén, Petra Bauer, and Maria Lusitano Santos, as well as in Christine Öglund’s ephemeral Thought-Forms and Leif Elggren’s mysterious curio cabinet.

No stranger to the Stockholm art scene, Sidén has just opened a solo show at Christian Larsen Gallery. Her video piece at Moderna is first encountered in the preceding room, where the sound of ringing bicycle bells and mooing cows can be heard.

In a narrative with an old western feel, two horse riders are filmed during a 38-day journey from Stockholm to Skåne. Images move in a panoramic flow from right to left, and private moments - church bells, a woman planting lavender at a loved one’s grave - are juxtaposed with humorous still images of country folk looking suspiciously at the camera crew. The clip-clop of horse hooves drag the viewer along in this mesmerizing 38-minute long video work.

In contrast, the video piece by Lusitano Santos is much less produced. It, too, examines the image of Sweden, but from an immigrant’s point of view. With a format somewhere between essay film and documentary, the artist combines interviews with snippets from Sweden’s public radio and animation featuring Bamse the bear, a popular Swedish children’s television programme. As gentle snow falls in the background, the artist wonders what it means to be a foreigner in Sweden, and what constitutes home.

Ownership and authorship, one of the central axes of the exhibition, is explored in Kajsa Dahlberg’s A Room of One’s Own/A Thousand Libraries. In this project, Dahlberg borrowed every copy of Virginia Woolf’s novel available in Swedish libraries and photocopied each page, recreating readers’ underlines and margin notes. By “republishing” Woolf’s novel as an artist’s book, Dahlberg’s piece discusses re-readings, true authorships, as well as the relationship between public and private.

A similar idea is explored in Sarah Jordenö’s installation, The Persona Project, after Ingmar Bergman’s classic film. Through documentary-style video interviews and collected newspaper clippings, Jordenö dissects various aspects of the film, considering how the film is constantly reinterpreted, reedited, and reclassified.

In Johan Tirén’s piece, Drawings Made from Collected Descriptions, the relationship between artist and patron is examined. In the project, a buyer conceives of a drawing he/she would like to purchase from the artist, and has an intermediary communicate this idea to the artist along with a contract.

Digitally reproduced copies of the drawings (not the originals), are exhibited side-by-side with the contracts. The artist and buyer never meet; the formality of the type-written contracts is contrasted with the diverse, whimsical, and often non-sensical drawings the artist produces.

The critics’ reception of “The Modern Exhibition 2010” has thusfar been lukewarm. Nils Forsberg’s review for the Expressen newspaper brings attention to the fact that, since the last installment four years ago, Sweden has passed through a financial crisis, and two parliamentary elections.

At the time of the 2006 installation, he wrote that the exhibition would certainly seem dated four years later, “But after seeing this year’s edition,” he wrote last week, “I’m not so sure about that.”

In comparison with the 2006 installment, Sebastian Johans of the Upsala Nya Tidning (UNT) newspaper asserts that this year’s show plays it safe; the art is more toned down, less provocative, its installment “a bit paler and less visually striking.”

Story continues below…

Dagens Nyheter (DN) reviewer Sinziana Ravini takes readers through a roller-coaster ride in her review. She found the exhibition concept “as exciting as a cup of watered-down coffee” and the installation “unobtrusive and tidy,” lamenting the lack of provocative artistic choices. On first glance, it offers “no major surprises,” but as Ravini’s path through the show progresses, the low-key quality becomes seductive as “delicate micro-worlds emerge,” and unlikely dialogues between artists become apparent.

On the whole, Moderna Museet seems to be trying to make their exhibition practices more transparent. In the exhibition catalog, which is published according to Creative Commons guidelines and complementary with museum entrance, there are numerous views of the installation process, with works leaning against walls, ladders exposed. The exhibition also includes a performance and research room, where visitors can find workshops that suit their interests. The calendar of lectures, workshops, and events is full to the brim, further adding to the museum’s welcoming, energetic attitude.

This energy will likely be sustained as the museum ushers in a new director, Daniel Birnbaum, in November. Birnbaum is a philosopher, critic and curator, whose previous posts include the director for IASPIS (The International Art Studio Program in Sweden), as well as artistic director for the Venice Biennale 2009.

If the exhibition leaves you wanting more of the Swedish art scene, many of the artists whose work is included in this show are also exhibiting in Magasin 3 Konsthall’s fall show “Thrice Upon a Time,” which is on view through December 12th.

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Swedish researchers plan new trucks for women drivers
File photo of trucks in Sweden. Photo: Thomas Johansson/TT

Could vehicles adapted for women attract more female truckers to the profession?

These stats show Swedish driving isn't so gender equal
File photo of a Swedish woman driving a car. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

A new survey shows that few Swedish women get behind the wheel when driving with their male partner.

Revealed: Game of Thrones could be coming to Sweden
Game of Thrones cast members at the Emmy Awards in September. Photo: Jordan Strauss/AP

The producers of the hit show have asked for three rounds of location pictures of Swedish island Gotland.

Prime Minister to meet Swedish troops in Iraq
Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and his Kurdish counterpart Nechervan Barzani. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Sweden's Prime Minister Löfven is set to meet Swedish troops in Iraq on Tuesday.

Swedish politicians wage war on winter time
Soon it will look like this on your way home from work in Sweden. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Should Sweden stick with summer time all year round?

'Don't turn the Pope into a global teddy bear'
Sweden's Queen Silvia and Princess Leonore visiting Pope Francis in the Vatican last year. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

It's time to hold the Pope to account and make sure he turns his words about reform into action, argues a minister of the Swedish Church ahead of Pope Francis' visit to Sweden.

Löfven: 'Sweden will double its number of troops in Iraq'
Stefan Löfven and Haider al-Abadi during the visit on Monday. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has promised to double his country's number of troops in Iraq following a meeting with Iraqi counterpart Haider al-Abadi on Monday.

Will Swedes soon be looking for fairtrade porn?
Should Swedes think fairtrade with porn? Photo: Karin Malmhav/SvD/TT

A fairtrade attitude to pornography would be beneficial, Sweden's health minister told The Local.

Presented by Stockholm University
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Simon Paulin/imagebank.sweden.se

Nordic fashion took centre stage in the Swedish capital last week as Stockholm University hosted the “first-ever” academic conference looking at luxury and sustainability in the fashion industry.

Referee, coach and parents in Swedish youth football fight
File photo of a referee holding a red card not related to the story. Photo: Stefan Jerrevång/TT

A football dad broke his leg in the brawl in front of 11-year-old kids after a Hammarby youth football game.

Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Why we're convinced Game of Thrones is based on Sweden
Sponsored Article
This is Malmö: Football capital of Sweden
People-watching: October 21st-23rd
Fury at plans that 'threaten the IB's survival' in Sweden
Blog updates

6 October

10 useful hjälpverb (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej! I think the so-called “hjalpverb” (auxiliary verbs in English) are a good way to get…" READ »


8 July

Editor’s blog, July 8th (The Local Sweden) »

"Hej readers, It has, as always, been a bizarre, serious and hilarious week in Sweden. You…" READ »

Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Analysis & Opinion
Are we just going to let half the country die?
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Angry elk chases Swede up a lamp post
The Local Voices
'Alienation in Sweden feels better: I find myself a stranger among scores of aliens'
People-watching: October 20th
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
The Local Voices
A layover at Qatar airport brought this Swedish-Kenyan couple together - now they're heading for marriage
Sponsored Article
Swedish for programmers: 'It changed my life'
Swede punches clown that scared his grandmother
Fans throw flares and enter pitch in Swedish football riot
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
Could Swedish blood test solve 'Making a Murderer'?
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Property of the week: Linnéstaden, Gothenburg
Swedish school to build gender neutral changing room
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
People-watching: October 14th-16th
Sponsored Article
Why you should 'grab a chair' on Stockholm's tech scene
Man in Sweden assaulted by clowns with broken bottle
Sponsored Article
Where is the Swedish music industry heading?
Nobel Prize 2016: Literature
Sponsored Article
One expat's strategy for making friends in Stockholm
Watch the man who discovered Bob Dylan react to his Nobel Prize win
Sponsored Article
Nordic fashion in focus at Stockholm University
Record numbers emigrating from Sweden
People-watching: October 12th
The Local Voices
'Swedish startups should embrace newcomers' talents - there's nothing to fear'
How far right are the Sweden Democrats?
Property of the week: Triangeln, Malmö
Sweden unveils Europe's first elk hut
People-watching: October 7th-9th
The Local Voices
Syria's White Helmets: The Nobel Peace Prize would have meant a lot, but pulling a child from rubble is the greatest reward
Missing rune stone turns up in Sweden
jobs available