The Playground Project, Lund Konsthall. Curator: Gabriela Burkhalter
Recently, I visited the beautiful Matisse show at the National Gallery of Denmark (SMK), produced in collaboration with MoMA in New York. I also saw the Swedish National Museum’s presentation of Renaissance drawing, a collaboration with the Louvre in Paris. Yet, for me the best art-historical exhibition of 2022 was Lund Konsthall’s The Playground Project, which highlighted a fairly unexplored field between art, play, and urbanism. The collage is sometimes described as the most important invention of modern art, but here the play sculpture emerged as the preeminent aesthetic expression of an ideological revolution: from the nineteenth-century bourgeois ideal of art for the ruling classes, to the welfare society’s democratic ideal of art for all, including the little ones. Just think of all the children occupying public space on their own playful terms! Invaluable.
Björn Lövin, The Surrounding Reality, Moderna Museet, Stockholm. Curator: Matilda Olof-Ors
Which was this year’s best solo exhibition in the Nordics? Anselm Kiefer’s magnificent show at Artipelag in Stockholm or Gl. Strand’s finely tuned Lee Lozano presentation in Copenhagen? Or perhaps Camille Henrot’s turn to painting at MUNCH in Oslo? In any case, this year’s most peculiar exhibition was surely Moderna Museet’s Björn Lövin-retrospective, which reconstructed three of his room-size environments from the 1970s and 80s in minute detail. The highlight was L’image (1981), created for the Centre Pompidou in Paris, featuring fragmentary full-scale sections of a home as well as surveillance footage and interviews with a French family shown in six containers. This puzzling work offered no comfort, but rather disrupted knowledge, estranged the viewer, and made the world incomprehensible.
Third Eye Butterfly, Mint ABF, Stockholm. Curator: Cathrin Mayer
Since thematic group shows do not seem to be held in high regard these days, it was great that the small venue Mint had invited the German curator Cathrin Mayer to organise this butterfly-like presentation in the basement of the ABF* headquarters. Multi-coloured lighting conveyed an ambiguous presence, while works by Nat Marcus and P Staff fluttered to the ceiling or were resting high on the wall of a corridor leading up to a psychedelic film by Storm de Hirsch. But rather than having my mind expanded, I had an ominous premonition of life wearing thin as we are forced to constantly react to sensory stimuli. Perhaps our lives will be shorter, like an insect’s?
* The Swedish Workers’ Education Association.
Frans Josef Petersson is an art critic, and editor of Kunstkritikk in Sweden.
For this year’s contributions to Kunstkritikk’s Advent Calendar, see here.