14 December

Which exhibitions sent art critic Lars-Erik Hjertström Lappalainen off the rails in 2020?

Johanna Gustafsson Fürst, L/anguish–But if the Word Gags, Does Not Nourish, Bite it Off,2019.

Johanna Gustafsson Fürst, Graft the Words, Whip My Tongue, Accelerator, Stockholm 

This was an exhibition about the linguistic dimension of the Swedish government’s Swedification of the Tornedalen region spanning northeastern Sweden and northwestern Finland. I wrote quite extensively about it in my review, and, in retrospect, I want to add to that how the exhibition’s lighting rendered the light a sculptural element. In one gallery, the works’ shadows drew threatening borders and fields of tension on the floor, while one part of the floor was illuminated in a way that made it appear as a haven in which the shadow from a hanging sculpture moved. In the other gallery, the lighting was evenly distributed, and the shadows from the sculptures radiated an agile lightness and openness.

Berit Lindfeldts, Insidor och utkanter, installation view. Photo: Jan Watteus.

Berit Lindfeldt, Insidor och utkanter, The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Stockholm

I had only just stepped inside to see Berit Lindfeldt’s Insidor och utkanter (Insides and edges) at The Royal Academy of Fine Arts when I stopped in my tracks, struck by how good it looked. For the first time, I was faced with the conundrum: Do I really want to go in and see the exhibition, as odds are it won’t live up to this first impression? I went in, and it did. It was a curious and somewhat surreal experience, as the exhibition in a very objective and concrete way seemed to answer the question of what a home is when it no longer exists. It’s still something, but what? Sometimes, I wonder what the Swedish author Lars Norén could have written about it.

Éva Mag, DEAD MATTER MOVES, performance, 2019.

Éva Mag, There Is a Plan for This, Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm

Éva Mag collected all the stuff that her dad, a scrap collector, had in his yard. During the course of the exhibition, the staff sorted through it all, with no specific instructions. The accumulation of things, and Mag’s attempt at organising it in a new way, revealed more than the impossibility of two different sensibilities finding a common relationship to the objects. There were also two different relationships to the past. In addition, both daughter and father appeared as people, in separate times, trying to find something in the margins of the production system. Scrap collecting, repairing and building devices from discarded objects, appeared as the equivalent to our time’s use of temporary labour. All the buyer of said labour – in this case Éva Mag – has to do is come up with tasks, and is rewarded with appreciation and money. People as scrap, scrap as carrier of intimate relationships. In all this, the difficulty of being together in an everyday life defined by the relationship to production. The exhibition was incredible.

– Lars-Erik Hjertström Lappalainen is an art critic, regular contributor to Kunstkritikk, and editor of the online art journal tsnoK.

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