4 December Valerie Kyeyune Backström

Which were the most memorable exhibitions of 2020? Today we hear from Valerie Kyeyune Bäckström, novelist, art critic, and regular contributor to Kunstkritikk.

Michael Rakowitz, The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist, (Room G, Northwest Palace of Nimrud, Room G-24), installation view, Tensta Konsthall, 2020. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.

Michael Rakowitz, The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist (Room G), Tensta Konsthall

This exhibition was possibly even better in Malmö Konsthall’s church-like exhibition space, where it was shown last winter, but there was still a sense of reverence in Tensta Konsthall when Michael Rakowitz’s The Invisible Enemy Should Not Exist (Room G) was exhibited there later this spring. Rakowitz’s huge reliefs of pilfered cultural heritage recreated using food packaging were sad and nuanced ruminations on difficult issues of repatriation, heritage, culture, war, and imperialism.

Johanna Gustafsson Fürst, Mother Tongue, 2019. Photo: Christian Saltas.

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

The movement, resistance, and musicality of Gustafsson Fürst’s sculptures as they came up against issues of native tongue and language policy will stay with me for a long time. The violence and beauty grafted into her visual language was perhaps most visible in the floating piece Mother Tongue (2019).

Faith Ringgold, American Collection #1: We Came To America, 1997. Courtesy of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Art by Women Collection, Gift of Linda Lee Alter.

Faith Ringgold, Bildmuseet, Umeå 

Seeing Faith Ringgold’s entire oeuvre for the first time in Sweden was a total privilege, and Bildmuseet should be praised for bringing the exhibition here. In retrospect, Ringgold’s quilts emerge as a highlight, in which she manages to combine her painting with storytelling and radical artistic activism. All things considered, she is one of the great American artists, and it is gratifying that this fact is finally starting to be recognised.

– Valerie Kyeyune Backström is an author, art critic, and regular contributor to Kunstkritikk. Her debut novel Ett nytt England (A New England) was published in 2020. 

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