20 December

Which were the artist Lap-See Lam’s most stunning exhibition experiences of 2020?

Jumana Manna, Wild Relatives (still), 2018.

Jumana Manna, Wild Relatives, Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm 

The protagonist of Jumana Manna’s film Wild Relatives (2018) is a seed. The plot revolves around an agricultural research centre in Aleppo that is forced to relocate to Lebanon amid the escalating war. As the centre is forced to leave its genetic seed bank behind, it decides to recreate the collection by requesting seed copies from the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a disused mine where thousands of frozen seeds are stored as backup in the event of future disaster. Following the seed’s journey and learning about the people that cross its path and the geopolitical context that enables the transaction makes for a staggering and contemplative film experience.

Salad Hilowle, Passion of Remembrance (still), 2020.

Salad Hilowle, Buuraha U Dheer (The Highest Mountains), Galleri Mejan, Stockholm

Salad Hilowle’s essay film Passion of Remembrance (2020), shown in his MA-exhibition at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, deals with images of blackness in Swedish media history. Archival images from popular culture are combined with staged scenes filmed with analogue film to “create an epic imagery where Afro-Swedish bodies are written into our film history, both symbolically and technically.” The powerful images disrupt the documentary material and linger with the viewer: the Blackamoor Bridge sculpture group in the gardens of Ulriksdal Palace; the woman moving through the forests of Norrland; visitors to Södermalm’s mosque and their friends gazing straight into the camera. I look forward to Hilowle’s upcoming feature film Tungomål (Tongues United). In the meantime, I recommend Waryaa (2018) and Brev till Sverige (Letter to Sweden) (2019), which are available on SVT Play.

Éva Mag, There Is a Plan for This, installation view, Bonniers Konsthall. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.

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

I was one of the many people who were moved by Éva Mags exhibition There Is a Plan for This at Bonniers Konsthall. I was also fortunate enough to see Mag’s performance DEAD MATTER MOVES (2019) at the historically significant Judson Memorial Church in New York when I was there to participate, like Mag, in Performa19. Most of all, I remember the fun and supportive phone calls we shared before the biennial, when at times it felt like “I did not have a plan for this.” With this as an example, I hope for more conversations and organising among fellow artists, especially during these trying times.

– Lap-See Lam is an artist. Her recent projects include a commission for the newly reopened Magasin III in Stockholm. In 2021 she will participate in the performance programme ‘Nomadic Nights’ at Fondation Cartier pour L’art Contemporain in Paris, a solo exhibition at Trondheim Art Museum, and a group show at the Pinchuk Art Centre in Kiev as part of the Future Generation Art Prize. 

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

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