11 December

Which were the most thought-provoking art events in 2020? Today’s advent calendar is signed by Theodor Ringborg, artistic director at Bonniers Konsthall.

An Ecological Arctic Town, 1958. Architect: Ralph Erskine Illustration: Lars Harald Westman.

Kiruna Forever, ArkDes – Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design, Stockholm 

For someone like me, who’s spent time in the Kiruna region, it was easy to appreciate Kiruna Forever at ArkDes. It would have been easy to make a sensational exhibition by focusing on the fact that the whole city is going to be moved – even though that isn’t entirely true. It’s more about demolishing and building a bit further away, with some buildings being “moved.” With ArkDes’ more thoughtful course, the fact emerged that this ongoing manoeuvre was predetermined, and that through this event one gets the opportunity to see not only how industry, colonisation, class, state, people, language, law, global systems, and infrastructures are intertwined, but also that an exhibition format that mixes art, architecture, and documents can contribute to a better understanding of this complex occurrence.

Royal Institute of Art, Degree Exhibition with works by Salad Hilowle (middle), Monika Milivojevic (left) and Simon Hägglund (right).

Degree exhibition, Royal Institute of Art, Konstakademien, Stockholm

In the shadow of crises, students at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm finally opened their exhibition at Konstakademien after the summer. Not all of it was great. But it’s important to remind oneself that best-of albums rarely are the best. In such compilations, the structure and composition of the different songs seldom add anything. But they did at Konstakademien. There was something indefinable, yet captivating in the air. Instead of a vague theme trying to encompass all the works, the title was simply MMXX. I especially remember Leif Engström’s soulful painting full of an indeterminate desolation, Lap-See Lam’s virtual reality journey through a 3D scanned Chinese restaurant, and Salad Hilowle’s tapestry of one of the “blackamoors pulling nets” statues in the gardens of Ulriksdal Palace, which covered half of the Nike sculpture in Konstakademien’s large sculpture gallery. The works weren’t forced to have anything to do with each other, which meant that the practices could coexist in a way that was fruitful for each one of the artists. 

Christoffer Paues, Trea nr 1 för folkfronterna, 2020.

Agentur, History Is Not Over (February 12, 1934), Mint ABF, Stockholm

The independent research group Agentur presented an event about the French author Marc Bernard’s book The Workers’ Days of February 9 and 12 (1934)Parts of the book were read, after which Kim West presented on the book’s central historical moment: when two opposing anti-fascist demonstrations in Paris merged as a united front, after all. For me, the event was permeated by these key words: “after all.” Jörgen Gassilewskis’s performance was a survey after all, and Samuel Richter showed a film that shouldn’t be a film, but which here, after all, was a film. Emma Kihl then talked about the montage, which, after all, becomes image. If something is to happen “after all,” it requires reflection, commitment, and a certain optimism, three things that nowadays seem difficult to combine. Which is why this was a particularly uplifting evening.

– Theodor Ringborg is artistic director of Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm. In 2020, he curated The Work of Mourning at Bonniers Konsthall, and for 2021 he’s working on one solo exhibitions with Ann Böttcher and one with Lawrence Abu Hamdan. Ringborg defended his doctoral thesis at Goldsmiths University London in 2020.

For this year’s contributions to Kunstkritikk’s Advent Calendar, see here.