Lina Selander at the Venice Biennale

It was announced today that Lina Selander will represent Sweden at the Venice Biennale 2015.

Lina Selander, Anteroom of the Real(still), 2011.
Lina Selander, Anteroom of the Real (still), 2011.

Today, Moderna Museet officially announced that a solo exhibition by Lina Selander (b.1973) will constitute Sweden’s contribution to the Venice Biennale 2015. The exhibition will take place in the Arsenale, following an invitation from the Biennale curator Okwui Enwezor. The Nordic Pavilion is shared between Norway, Finland and Sweden, and this year it will be organised by Norway.

Congratulations on the exhibition! What are you going to show in Venice, and where will the exhibition take place?

– I will show a number of installations from 2014 and earlier, and a new film that is a collaboration with Oscar Mangione. The exhibition will take place in the Arsenale, in a 300-square meter room following directly after Enwezor’s exhibition. Thereafter, other national participants follow, Lina Selander tells Kunskritikk.

Selander’s film installations often draw upon historic events, and she uses both essayistic and archaeological approaches to uncover the way private as well as public images define memory or history. «Selander’s artistic practice is about finding traces, as much as about leaving traces», wrote Kunstkritikk’s critic Magnus Bremmer about her exhibition at Index in Stockholm 2011, while Martin Grennberger described the piece Silphium (2014), shown at Kunsthall Trondheim earlier this year, as a film where the traces of nature and history are «aligned with the instruments for surveillance, control, regulation of and production of knowledge in the modern era».

Lina Selander. Photo: Cecilia Grönberg/OEI Editör.
Lina Selander. Photo: Cecilia Grönberg/OEI Editör.

You and Oscar Mangione recently collaborated on the film Silphium. Mangione is known mainly as a writer and editor of the magazine Geist. What is his role in the collaboration?

– I have been having an ongoing discussion with Oscar about my work since 1999. The last couple of years the conversations have become more and more practical in scope, extending into the actual work. We are very close and the films have ultimately become embodiments, projections or manifestations of our conversations on the problems and possibilities of the image. The film-work is, so to speak, a continuation of the conversation by other means.

Can you say something about the film you are making for Venice?

– Right now we are thinking and reading, and then the task of finding images, rhythms, and lines that continue what our thoughts have started is a delicate matter. I am not ready to discuss it yet. The films find their form in the editing process. But the new film will pick up the thread from recent work like Model of Continuation and Silphium, investigating the image as a both exterior and interior object.

Last year Hilma af Klint was included in the main show of the Venice Biennale, and last time Sweden organised the Nordic Pavilion, in 2011, the exhibiting artists were Fia Backström and Andreas Eriksson. Moderna Museet’s director Daniel Birnbaum, who was head curator of the Venice Biennale 2009, thinks that Selander’s work deserves a larger audience.

– We have discussed this decision together at Moderna, and we all agree that Lina Selander is one of the most exciting artists in Sweden today. She has exhibited internationally, but not participated in the really big events, Daniel Birnbaum says to Kunstkritikk.

Lina Selander and Oscar Mangione, Silphium (still), 2014.
Lina Selander and Oscar Mangione, Silphium (still), 2014.

How will Selander’s work do at the Venice Biennale?

– She can seem intellectually challenging, but I do not think we should underestimate the audience in Venice. It is big and mixed, but it is also sophisticated and used to complex artworks. I have been following Selander’s work for some years now and have been looking for an opportunity to exhibit her. We will do an exhibition here at the museum in Stockholm as well.

Selander’s exhibition at Moderna Museet opens in October 2015, and will partly overlap with the Venice Biennale, which runs from May 9 to November 22. Lena Essling, curator at Moderna, will organise both exhibitions.

– Lina Selander’s works operate on their own wavelength, I feel, and they have a strong visual presence and an inner density that captures you, regardless of whether you as a spectator immediately comprehend all layers and references, Lena Essling tells Kunstkritikk.

– Lina and I just came back from Venice where we examined the exhibition space, which is fantastic and has a great location in the Arsenale. At the moment we are thinking about the space, as well as the selection of works. A publication will be made for the exhibition, but it is not yet decided what form it will take.

Lina Selander, Model of Continuation, 2013.
Lina Selander, Model of Continuation (still), 2013.

Daniel Birnbaum also talks about the significance of the exhibition space, and emphasises the importance of establishing a dialogue with the adjacent international exhibition.

– When I was curator of the Biennale, I thought that it was the most beautiful room, Birnbaum says of the location inside the Arsenale.

– I know Okwui quite well and remember shows such as Archive Fever at ICP in New York 2008, which had a tone similar to Lina’s work. I hope and think that this will be good for her and the Biennale as a whole.

Selander has previously exhibited at Manifesta in Genk 2012 and at the Bucharest Biennale 2010. This weekend the first large-scale presentation of Selander’s work in Sweden will open at Kalmar Konstmuseum. The exhibition is called A Series of Images About You, and is curated by the director of Kunsthall Trondheim, Helena Holmberg. Later this year she will exhibit at INIVA – the Institute of International Visual Art in London.