The duo Jens Strandberg and Jenny Richards have been appointed new directors at Konsthall C in the Stockholm suburb of Hökarängen. Their program launches this weekend with the first Swedish exhibition of Mierle Laderman Ukeles. Maintenance Art Works 1969–1980 is produced in co-operation with the Grazer Kunstverein and will be shown parallel at Marabouparken in Sundbyberg, another Stockholm suburb, and Konsthall C. A selection of Ukeles’ work up until 1977 will be shown at Marabouparken, while the later project Touch Sanitation (1977–1984), where Ukeles shakes hands with sanitation workers in New York, will be shown at Konsthall C.
Jens Strandberg is an artist trained at Glasgow School of Art and Konstfack in Stockholm. Richards has a Masters in Art and Politics from Goldsmiths College, and has been project manager at the artist-driven Cubitt Gallery in London. The duo takes over from Karolin Tampere, who operated Konsthall C from 2013–2014 together with the artist-duo akcg. The new directors now reside in Stockholm, and Richards’ project Home Economics, which examines the politics of the home through a series of films and participatory events was shown in parts at Tensta Konsthall during the spring of 2013. Strandberg worked earlier with publications and with sculptural installations in people’s homes.
– We both have long been interested in various collaborative forms of distribution and production of art, and this approach will be visible at Konsthall C as well, Richards and Strandberg expressed to Kunstkritikk.
– Our interest in the conditions of work will also be reflected directly in the konsthall’s operation moving forward, which seems logical as Konsthall C shares space with a common laundry room, where ideas of gender-segregated labor are built into the very architecture, so to speak.
Parallel to Maintenance Art Works 1969–1980 there will be a small group exhibition entitled From Her House, where two artists from the same generation as Ukeles – Anna Sjödahl and Margaret Raspé – will be exhibited at Marabouparken, while Konsthall C will show new work by Joanna Lombard, who draws on her struggle with breast feeding, reminding us of «the shared challenges faced by mothers and the need to continually address them». The project also includes a collaboration with Film i Samtidskonsten [Film in Contemporary Art], who are behind a film program showing at the movie theater Zita during the month of February. According to Strandberg and Richards, the project in its entirety, whose conceptual framework goes under the title Home Works, anticipates the coming two years of activity at Konsthall C.
– Together with our producer Anna Ahlstrand, we will be running an exhibition program that we hope will be relevant, both locally and within broader political discussions. We have also had the help of Gunilla Lundahl, who is involved in developing the exhibition program, which has produced a number of issues that we have started to work from, among others the characteristics of home and community. This will guide the exhibitions with, for example, Ciara Phillips from Canada and the Norwegian artist Anna Ihle.
Since its inception, Konsthall C has been marked by its focus on the neighborhood of Hökarängen as related to questions of social planning and the history of the Swedish welfare state. In recent years, questions about gentrification have been discussed in seminars and exhibitions that take ongoing local changes, not least in Stockholmshems’ project to give artists access to cheap studio space in Hökarängen, as their starting point. Richards and Strandberg see this grounding in the local as a prerequisite and testament to the opportunities available at Konsthall C.
– It is our responsibility as directors to, in a visual and non-didactic way, communicate questions that extend from local concerns to broader global problems. We hope that we can create a meaningful program of exhibitions and events that is able to engage and be relevant to a large audience – who also then feels welcome shaping the future of Konsthall C, claim Richards and Strandberg, who also emphasis the potential Konsthall C has to be a critical voice in the art world.
– Konsthall C offers lesser-known artists great opportunities, and it is a place that is flexible and focused on dialogue between the artist and organization about the available means of production. Historically, it has been a space that offers an opportunity to challenge the standardized ways of making and viewing art.