20 December

Warm humor and dark premonitions haunted artist Sara Ekholm Eriksson’s year in art.

Peter Geschwind, Haunted House. A Trailer, installation view, 2019. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.

Peter Geschwind, After Image, Bonniers Konsthall, Stockholm. Curated by Theodor Ringborg

In contrast to streamlined AI images, which can sometimes feel creepy, the recently deceased Peter Geschwind’s spatial animations evoked a sense of DIY, humour and playfulness. By making the illusion visible, Geschwind created a high-spirited atmosphere reminiscent of Steamboat Willie (1928), Walt Disney’s iconic film in which Mickey Mouse took his first tentative steps. Perhaps in the future we will look at today’s AI-generated images with a similar gaze? The installation – with the dancing mops, the campsite and the trees – summoned memories that have been etched into my mind’s eye. Just as the light from the illuminated chair remained when I closed my eyes and walked out of the room.

Annika Larsson, Strange Powers – Prologue, installation view, Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm.

Annika Larsson, Strange Powers, Andréhn-Schiptjenko Gallery, Stockholm

The gallery changed its form with red foil over the windows, and on the floor were speaker-like formations that turned out to be theremins. For me, Fuzzy Speaker (2023) – a small black box of magnet and membrane with a coiled copper wire – was the centrepiece of the exhibition. As I approached it, I heard a crackling bird song, the only sound that could be transmitted through this simple speaker. It felt magical and dystopian, emphasising the unique capacity of birdsong to be heard over long distances. The video Strange Powers – Prologue (2023) hinted at the use of canaries to warn miners of oxygen deficiency or toxic gases. Through the window, I saw people walking in the streets in a red atmosphere and wondered if someone is warning us now – and if so, are we listening?

Åsa Elzén, “time walk”, 2023. Photo: Emanuel Hallklint. 

Åsa Elzén, “time walk” in Tänka med jorden (Think with the Earth/Dirt), Art Lab Gnesta, Sörmlands Museum, and Nynäs Castle and nature reserve, Tystberga. Curated by Caroline Malmström

In the artist Åsa Elzén’s “time walk” around Nynäs Castle, a 17th century manor house south of Stockholm, and its environs, historian of ideas Axel Andersson presented an essay on the history of the castle, while poet Filip Lindberg read a poem referring to the nuclear power plant in nearby Studsvik. Standing above a dam that prevents brackish water from the Baltic Sea from reaching Trobbofjärden lake and protects the power plant, I heard the sound of the open water seemingly answered by the stream in the forest. Cornelia Stjernlöf and Morgana Hyvönen sang kulning, ancient Swedish herding songs, to each other from either side of the dam, recalling a time when the waterway flowed freely. Did they show how kulning can be a form of communication between people, animals, and perhaps even with nature itself? Or was it an attempt to warn us of a dam’s consequences for biodiversity?

Sara Ekholm Eriksson is an artist living in Stockholm. During 2023 she exhibited at Bonniers Konsthall and Uppsala Art Museum. She also presented a new work as part of the mentioned Tänka med jorden (Think with the Earth/Dirt), a collective project by Art Lab Gnesta in collaboration with Sörmlands Museum, and Nynäs Castle. 

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