Category Archives: Documentary

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

Final words: The Icelandic Love Corporation

It’s the last day of June and time to move on. Before we continue onto the summer — keeping a lower profile on the country side — we are wrapping up the “flavor of the month“, closing June with an artistic work that touches upon existential and political issues, which is theatrically staged with a humorous angle — in a peculiar fusion of realism and surrealism…

Happy summer everyone!

The Icelandic Love Corporation — Eirún Sigurðardóttir, Jóní Jónsdóttir, Sigrún Hrólfsdóttir and Dóra Ísleifsdóttir (who left the group in 2001) — met in Reykjavík, at the Icelandic College of Arts and Crafts. Their first big performance was “The Kiss”, featuring the artists kissing and was broadcasted on national TV in 1996.

The Kiss / Photo taken from ICL’s homepage

A kiss — they say — that was a little bit longer than a friends kiss but a little bit shorter than a lover’s kiss. In the end of the performance one of the artists kissed the camera lens and in the meantime, sent a kiss to every home in the whole country.

“With this performance we were trying to spread love and good feelings,” Sigrún says (in Grapewine 2007).

And since then — since that first kiss — the mission of the group has only expanded in line with their steadily growing career.

Women good enough to eat / Photo taken from ILC’s homepage

To The Icelandic Love Corporation, there are no rules — anything goes and nothing is irrelevant. Even though spreading love and good feeling is a part of their performances, The Icelandic Love Corporation has never been afraid to go all the way. Humour, femininity and carelessness is mixed with political thoughts and serious topics in their work, which is mostly performative — depending on time, place and “had-to-be-there” moments.  The group is enigmatic and their vibrant, life affirming work is both transient and anonymous. It’s not resistant to pin-pointing or analysing — and trying to do so is rather futile. Their work is honest — and refreshing — with a serious undertone that isn’t unwieldy. As is written in an interview with the group in the SiouxWire Annex from 2006:

“As a whole, their body of work is like an ornate diary, a window into their own personal journeys with the most incredible, enlightening outlook”.

“Where do we go from here?” / Photographer: Páll Stefánsson

Through performances and other mediums (including installations, prints, textile, sculptures, poetry, photography and videos), the group works to breakdown the distance between art and audience, and their projects often result in participatory events or public offerings. In one of their latest collaboration with Lilith Performance Studio in Malmö, the group created — in a living web of 5000 nylon pantyhose — a singular visual experience “Think Less, Feel more” that worked on irrational levels of the thinking process. The performance had its starting point in the visible and invisible contacts between people — conveying experiences of control and lack of control, conflict, sensitivity and elasticity …

… taking the performance artform just a one step further.

Think Less – Feel more / Photo taken from Lilith Performance Studio

The Icelandic Love Corporation (Gjörningaklúbburinn) was established by four Icelandic women in 1996 and since then, the group has gained a reputation both in Iceland and abroad. The fourth member (Dóra Ísleifsdóttir) left the group in 2001 but the three remaining members; Eirún Sigurðardóttir (1971), Jóní Jónsdóttir (1971) and Sigrún Hrólfsdóttir (1973), have kept on making artwork together, tour the world and surprise both audience and bypassers with innovative performances and lasting by-products including installations, sculptures, prints, textile, photographs, poetry and videos. Believing in the power of collaboration, the ILC’s history counts more than 200 exhibitions, as they’ve performed in small galleries and large museums, collaborated with renowned artists and musicians (f.ex. Björk) and invaded public spaces in major cities across the world. Their work can be found found in numerous public and private collections. 


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Filed under Art, Choreography, Documentary, Iceland, Installation, Live art, Media, Music, Performance, Photography, Political Art, Print, Reykjavík, Sculptures, Sociopolitical art, Sound Art, Textile Art, Video Art, Visual Art

“ART IS AN AMAZING WAY TO DEAL WITH LIFE”

– Interview with Tessa Praun (Sweden)

When did you start curating? Tell us something about your educational background and curatorial experience?

Curator Tessa Praun with Ai Wei Wei at his ateljé in 2010/ Photo by Magasin 3

 I started curating for real on my current job, the private art foundation Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall. My background is in the Humanities Study Program and Art History at Stockholm University. I did my final internship at IASPIS (International Artists Studio Program in Sweden), an artist in residency program that really got me interested in contemporary art. From there I moved on to shorter experiences at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice and as assistant curator at Kunstverein München, amongst others. In 2004 I started as assistant curator at Magasin 3 and became curator two years later. Since then I have curated exhibitions with artists such as Miroslav Tichy, Christian Boltanski, Annika von Hausswolff, Marijke van Warmerdam, Ai Weiwei, etc. and have done collaborative projects with other art institutions in Europe and been working with Magasin 3:s own collection.

What is your personal relationship with Ai Wei Wei and his work? How did it come about that you got to curate his show at Magasin 3?

I was very taken by Ai Weiwei’s project “Fairytale” that he did for Documenta XII, this impressive idea to invite 1001 Chinese people to come with him to Kassel in Germany in the summer of 2007. It is a fantastic social multi layered project that lives on through stories that are being told as well as through physical remaining parts with an amazing visual strength. Experiencing this work in Kassel made me read more about Ai Weiwei and follow the work he did after.

In 2010 I was in China and had the chance to visit Ai Weiwei in his combined home and studio in Beijing. This was in a time when he was already very pressed by the Chinese authorities and he had just been under a three days house arrest when we met. Meeting him in his own environment and under these pressing circumstances effected me strongly and coming back to Stockholm I invited him to have the exhibition here at Magasin 3 this spring.

Fairytale (dormitory) by Ai Wei Wei 

Tell us more about the Ai Wei Wei exhibition. What has been your main role as a curator of the show?

From the beginning I knew that I did not want to make a retrospective exhibition, instead I wanted a selection of works that focuses on China as synonymous to mass production and Ai Weiwei’s concern for the individual as a necessary part of the big mass. Ai Weiwei did the first selection of works that he and I then discussed and added to. Only a few months into working together, in the beginning of April 2011, he suddenly was arrested and kept detained on no legal grounds in an undisclosed location. Not knowing what was going to happen, if and when he would be released, me and my colleagues had to decide how to move on. Together with Ai Weiwei’s assistants we came to the conclusion that the best thing that we could do in that situation was to continue the preparations of the exhibition, it felt even more so important to show his work and make his voice heard. Despite my deep concerns for Ai Weiwei’s situation I had to focus as much as I could on completing the exhibition and do so in the most respectful way.

World Map by Ai Wei Wei

Can you explain the importance of the reading room being a part of the Ai Wei Wei exhibition? Why emphasize on all that information?

At the point when Ai Weiwei was detained and couldn’t be part of the preparations of the exhibition anymore, I felt it was important to give our visitors a deeper insight into Ai Weiwei’s situation, why he is on a collision course with the regime and consequently has become so known also outside the art world. So I developed a reading room. A physical one in the actual exhibition space, side by side with the artworks. It includes reading material, a sound archive where various people contributed with their stories and reflections on Ai Weiwei, interviews and documentaries on and by Ai Weiwei. But also a digital one, a special homepage gathering articles, documentaries, the sound archive, filmed documentation of all panel discussions that we have arranged in connection to the exhibition etc. in order for people to explore his work both as an artist, activist, blogger, architect. He himself does not really distinguish these roles. I found it interesting to bring this up through the reading room. Both the physical and digital reading room have proven very useful and much appreciated.

Video work by Ai Wei Wei 

Do you think new and digital media used in contemporary art has brought new aspects to arts and curating? Yes or no, explain why.

Well yes, I think since these new media are part of society today it is only a natural development that also artists explore them and art institutions adapt them in communicating with the audience. In some cases art can be brought closer to the viewer through various new media and attract those who are hard to reach in a more traditional manner. In our part of the world we live in a time with a tremendous fast pace. It is important that art can both adapt to these new circumstances but also offer a brake from just that. The content has to be the driving force otherwise the experience will be lost completely. It is a challenge for both artist and curator to find the right balance.

Stool by Ai Wei Wei

Photographs by Konsthopp

What qualities do you think a good curator should have?  

A good curator knows how to both support and challenge an artist, is curious and open minded, dedicated to the project and flexible to deal with different characters and situations under time pressure : )

From your point of view, how does the future of professional curating look like? What are your personal wishes, hopes and perspectives on your future curatorial plans?

My main motivation for being a curator is to learn more about life. Being close to art is an amazing way to deal with life, to explore notions of the present, history and future, to be inspired to thoughts and feelings. If I can transmit this also to other people then I think I am doing something good.

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Filed under Ceramic Art, Conversation, Curator, Curator Talk, Documentary, Fine Art, Installation, Political Art, Sculptures, Sociopolitical art, Stockholm, Textile Art, Uncategorized, Video Art, Visual Art

“MASKULIN”

Ongoing: 11th – 30th of April 2012, Young Art (Stockholm)

From the series “Närhet viktigare än sex ” by Viktor Johansson

This month, Young Art is presenting their first “themed exhibition”, with work by Johan Ray Pedersen and Viktor Johansson. In the exhibition Maskulin, the focus is laid on how social norms of masculinity looks like, can be questioned and changed. The two artists tackle the theme from different perspectives and with different techniques but come together in their interest of the expectations and definitions of today’s manliness.

“Utan titel” by Johan Ray Pedersen 

Johan Ray Pedersen (b. 1975) focuses on the stereotypical male ideal of society and the arts. For two years he has been working with paintings and collage, studying classical male attributes and symbols, such as penises, horses, bodybuilders and industrial environments. The paradox in choices of subjects can both go against and emphasize what is considered to be masculine but still un-masculine to portray. According to himself, he has even been asked if he isn’t afraid to become gay, while painting penises! With his work Johan wants to de-dramatize the emphases on what is feminine or masculine  – and instead focus on what is human. Or as he self puts it:

“Is it really that dangerous to paint some penises?”

“Golden Receiver” by Johan Ray Pedersen

“Göteborg” by Johan Ray Pedersen

From the series “Vem mäter mina drömmar” by Johan Ray Pederses

Viktor Johansson (b. 1987) works with photography as an artistic medium. In the past year, he has (among other projects) examined men in groups and their fear of physical contact. For the exhibition, Viktor Johansson has chosen to follow five male friendship pairs, portraying best friends and their way of socializing. The theory he carries is that men often only have one or two friends where the physical contact is natural, artless, and without prejudice. Through his photographs Viktor Johansson questions the social norms of masculinity and studies men’s views on non-sexual physical contact. Why can women, unlike men, hold hands and share a bed without anyone questioning their sexual orientation?

From the series “Närhet viktigare än sex ” by Viktor Johansson

From the series “Närhet viktigare än sex ” by Viktor Johansson 

“Närhet viktigare än sex ” by Viktor Johansson

Photographs by Viktor Johansson belong to Young Art / Other photos taken by Konsthopp

So– what does it really mean to be a man today? Is masculinity carved in stones? An image associated with taboos – saying that men should not show emotions or paint penises? Or is it constantly changing? As many of today’s gender debate is often dominated by the theme of how women can change, I believe the theme of “masculinity” hits right across!

As we have mentioned before, Young Art  is the place for those who are interested in enthusiastic art by emerging artists, and is always worth visiting! This time there is no exception! The exhibition runs until 30th of April 2012.

Artists: Johan Ray Pedersen & Viktor Johansson

Date: 11th – 30th of April 2012

Place: Young Art, Artillerigatan 6, Stockholm

Opening hours: Wednesday – Friday, 12.00 – 18.00 ; Saturday – Sunday, 12.00 – 16.00

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Filed under Art, Art stroll, Collage/Clip Art, Documentary, Konsthopp, Paintings, Photography, Political Art, Sociopolitical art, Video Art, Young Art

GOOGLE PHOTO PRIZE 2012

Net stroll: Viktor Johansson (Sweden)

The 24-year-old Swedish photo student, Viktor Johansson, has been named as the winner of the Google Photography Prize 2012. Viktor impressed the judges with his documentary series of Christoffer Eskilsson, Sweden’s top male 10m diver.

The jury’s motivation:

“Viktor Johansson has chosen to show us an alternative view, one that we are not used to seeing from sport photography in the media. Instead of glamorous action shots of an athlete in competition, he has produced arresting and unexpected photographs that focus on the long, lonely hours of repetitive training and practice that it takes to excel in your field.” (Nigel Hurst)

Viktor Johansson (b. 1985) studies his last year at the Nordic Photography school Biskops-Arnö (related post). You can see some of Viktor’s photographs at the ongoing exhibition “Maskulin” at Young Art in Stockholm. And if you’re in London, Viktor’s photographs of Christoffer Eskilsson will be exhibited along with the 9 other finalists photographs at The Saatchi Gallery, between 25th of April – 22nd of Jule 2012.

Congratulations Viktor!

 

Photographs belong to Viktor Johansson


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Filed under Documentary, Stockholm, Young Art