Tag Archives: Political Art

HEIMSENDIR / THE END OF THE WORLD

Vernissage: 10th of August 2012, Artíma Gallerí (Reykjavik)

Natural disasters, weapon of mass destruction, reversal of Earth’s magnetic field or excessive alcohol drinking …

What’s wrong with the world? — What might end it? — And why?

These are classic questions which are often asked even though it´s given that nobody knows — for sure — the correct answer.

Here is a tiny glimpse of how our world might end …

Photographs by Konsthopp

Death, disaster and — to a lesser extent, notions of apocalypse have always been visible in the art history. Concerns about the end of the world were often found in films of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s and the topic seems to have made a remarkable comeback in further contemporary art forms last decades. The theme appeared most recently in “Heimsendir,” an ambitious group exhibition in Artima gallery.

The exhibition was particularly diverse, as you can expect when 23 artists are displaying their work together. The artists are former classmates that studied together at the Iceland Academy of Arts from 2006 to 2009. After their graduation the students headed to different directions — all bringing back new educations, experiences and outlooks.

Apparently — the classmates were cheerful to renew their friendship. After a great night out — waking up the day after with appropriated hangover — some of them probably thought:

Hey, this headache might end the world!

Date: 10th – 19th of August 2012

Artists: Amanda Tyahur, Anne Marte Overaa, Arna Óttarsdóttir, Auður Arna Oddgeirsdóttir, Bergdís Hörn Guðvarðardóttir and María Dalberg, Brynja Kjartansdóttir, Davíð Hólm Júlíusson, Emil Mangúsarson Borhammar, Erla Silfá Hordvik Þorgrímsdóttir, Haraldur Sigmundsson, Hlynur Heimisson, Jonatan Jannert, Kolbrún Ýr Einarsdóttir, Rebekka Guðleifsdóttir, Sara Ross, Sigurlaug Gísladóttir, Solveig Pálsdóttir, Sunna Schram, Þorvaldur Jónsson, Þórarinn Ingi Jónsson, Þórður Grímsson and Örn Alexander Ámundasson

Curator: Árný Fjóla Ásmundsdóttir

Place: Artíma Gallerí, Skúlagata 28, Reykjavik

P.s. In relation to the exhibition the artists published a book that can be bought at the gallery. If you are interested you can check out the graduation exhibition from the same group in 2009 here

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Filed under Art, Group exhibit, Iceland, Konsthopp, Multimedia, Reykjavík

LIFE CLOCK

Vernissage: 22nd of June 2012, Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art (Copenhagen)

Every summer, Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art invites artists to curate an exhibition with a focus on the latest tendencies in contemporary art. This year the art group A Kassen, curates the show and present their own view of interesting art right now, inviting 12 Danish and International artists to take part in the exhibition. The title of the show, Life Clock, is taken from one of the works by French artist Bertrand Planes. The piece consist of a clock that does not record time as normally — in hours and minutes — but instead counts years and age approximated from the average lifespan of a Frenchman. The clock is adjusted so that it’s 54.800 times slower than a normal clock and keeps time with the artists’ actual age. With this simple gesture, Bertrand Planes changes our perception of time from anonymous, collective and perhaps meaningless — to an image of personal vanity and a reminder of the transience of life.

One of Konsthopp’s good friend in Copenhagen, Amir Zainorin, was present at the opening night and took some shots. Enjoy!

Photographs by Amir Zainorin

Date: 23rd of June – 12th of August 2012

Artists: Honey Biba Beckerlee (DK), Julius Von Bismarck (DE) and Julian Charriere (FR/CH), Torben Christensen (DK), Cyprien Gaillard (FR), Robin Gommel (DE), Anna Molska (PL), Simon Dybbroe Møller (DK), Bertrand Planes (FR), Att Poomtangon (TH), Wilfredo Prieto (CU), Troels Sandegaard and Ebbe Stub Wittrup (DK), From The Confected Video Archive of Kling & Bang Gallerí: Hekla Dögg Jónsdóttir, Loji Höskuldsson and Úlfur Grönvold (IS).

Curator: A Kassen art group

Place: Den Frie Centre of Contemporary Art, Oslo Plats 1, Copenhagen


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Filed under Amir Zainorin, Art, Art stroll, Collage/Clip Art, Copenhagen, Group exhibit, Guest blog, Konsthopp, Photography, Sculptures, Visual Art, Workshop visit

“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

AI WEI WEI

On-going: 3rd of February – 10th of June 2012, Magasin 3 (Stockholm)

“Creativity is the power to reject the past, to change the status quo, and to seek new potential. Simply put, aside from using one’s imagination — and perhaps more importantly — creativity is the power to act. Only through our actions can expectations for change become reality, and only then can our purported creativity build a new foundation, and only then is it possible to draw out human civilization.”

Ai Wei Wei

Ai WeiWei — a Chinese artist, activist, curator, blogger & architect — concerns for the individual as a necessary part of the big mass. The on-going exhibition at Magasin 3 shows a selection of his works, focusing on his monumental installations and political work — Chinese socialism, mass production and global trade. In his work, Ai Weiwei often refers to pre-revolutionary China and its cultural and craft traditions. He seeks out iconic objects with great cultural and symbolic value for the Chinese, and then deliberately treats them with complete disregard for its worth or intended function. The artworks can be seen as commentary on the disdain that Mao’s Cultural Revolution showed the past as well as a way for Ai Weiwei himself to dispatch with conventional notions about art and its value.

Ai Weiwei was born in 1957 in Beijing. He co-founded the avant-garde artists’ group Stars at the end of the 1970s before moving to New York in 1983. There he was a leading figure in the community of exiled Chinese artists, writers and musicians and became an active member of the American intellectual and artistic scene. In 1993 Ai Weiwei returned to China where he has worked not only as an artist, but also as a curator, architect and blogger. In recent years his activism for social change in China has increased, making him one of the most outspoken critics of the regime. In October 2011, he was named number one in the ArtReview annual Power 100 list but six months earlier he had been arrested by the Chinese government and held for over two months without any official charges being filed.

Photographs by Konsthopp

As you can imagine the preparation of the exhibition hasn’t been easy as only few months into working together with the artist, Tessa Praun, curator of the exhibition was told that Ai Wei Wei had suddenly been arrested and kept detained — and as she did not know what was going to happen, she had to decide how to move on. In a Konsthopp interview with the curator, this is what she had to say about the continue:

” 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”.

-Tessa Praun

One of the way was to create a reading room, which is one of my favorite parts of the exhibition at Magasin 3. The reading room (which is both digital and physical) also includes documentary films, and really gives the visitors a chance to learn more about the artist and his multifaceted efforts to foster social change in China — an activism that has already put him on a collision course with the Chinese regime.

If you haven’t been at Magasin 3 yet — go this weekend! Tomorrow we’ll be publishing our monthly curator interview with Tessa Praun — who shares an informative view of Ai Wei Wei’s work with an inspiring insight of a young, successful curator.

Stay tuned, and happy weekend!

Date: 3rd of February – 10th of June 2012

Artist: Ai Wei Wei

Curator: Tessa Praun

Place: Magasin 3, Frihamnen (Stockholm)

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Filed under Art, Ceramic Art, Fine Art, Installation, Konsthopp, Political Art, Stockholm, Textile Art, Video Art

PAVILION FOR REVOLUTIONARY FREE SPEECH

Vernissage: 25th of May 2012, Kunsthall Charlottenborg (Copenhagen)

This exhibition, a major installation by German artist Thomas Kilpper was originally created for the group exhibition Speech Matters at the Danish Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale. The work took the form of a raised wooden platform attached to the exhibition building and into the wooden floor where the artist carved 33 portraits of leading figures around the world. These are the people Kilpper believes have been directly or indirectly responsible for promoting censorship, social exclusion or intolerance. His main focus is freedom of speech and censorship, but which is also extended to the freedom of travel and migration.

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Kilpper said that doing the printing of woodcarving technic forces you to go slowly, through the need to cut into this material — the block of wood — before you are able to make a print from the wooden template as opposed to the digital printing which pretty much sums up of the current lifestyle with its extremely accelerated levels of production and consumption.

In Charlottenborg the visitor can stand on the floor between the negative images in the matrix, whilst seeing the positive counterpoint of these images in the actual prints installed in the space and be presented with the choice to chart between these positions.

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Photographs by Amir Zainorin

Thomas Kilpper was born in 1956 in Stuttgart and lives and works in Berlin. He was trained at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf and the Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main. His work has consistently investigated the relationship between history, politics and collective memory, often taking the form of large-scale site-specific installations and floor carvings. Kilpper has exhibited both across Europe and America and has since 2006 run the Berlin-based project space After The Butcher.

Date: 25th of May – 5th of August 2012

Artist: Thomas Klipper

Place: Kunsthall Charlottenborg, Nyhavn 2, Copenhagen

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Filed under Art, Copenhagen, Design, Illustrations, Installation, Konsthopp, Political Art, Print, Sociopolitical art, Visual Art

KONSTFACK SPRING EXHIBITION ’12

Vernissage: 16th of May 2012, Konstfack (Stockholm)

A glimpse in photographs from the opening of the spring exhibition at Konstfack last Wednesday. The exhibition is open until Sunday 27th of May. Stay tuned for more photographs and interviews!

 Live show & performance by Dyke Hard

“The ceremony” by Tobias Larsson

“I wasn’t allowed to wear black” by Liv Pettersson

“Lugnt, Stillsamt, Vackert” by Julia Dalgren

“PATTERN ATTACK” by Lisa Dalenius

“Smara” by Emma Persson

“Girls Club” by Karin Kakan Hermansson

“Happy meal” by Supawan Sihapoompichit

Work by Ida Bentinger

“Extensions, retractions, and missing parts” by Bianca Niabuco

“Ramené” by Emilie Florin

Work by Yusi-Chen

Work by Jonna Fransson

Photographs by Konsthopp

You can check out Konstfack´s 2011 exhibition here and here!

Artists: Newly graduates with Bachelor and Master degrees from Konstfack

Date: 16th – 27th of May 2012

Place: Konstfack, Telefonplan, Stockholm

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Filed under Art, Ceramic Art, Collage/Clip Art, Design, Digital Art, Fashion, Group exhibit, Installation, Konstfack, Konsthopp, Media, Photography, Stockholm, Textile Art, Uncategorized, Visual Art

THE HIGH SPIRITS OF COLLABORATING

— Interview with Jonatan Habib Engqvist (Sweden)

Photograph taken from OCA

Photograph taken from OCA

Reykjavík Arts Festival 2012 had its kick off at Harpa (Reykjavík Concert and Conference Hall) on Friday night. Since 2004 the festival has been held annually in the capital city of Iceland, each year concentrating specifically on different fields of arts. Last year it was music — this year it’s visual arts. As we mentioned in the post (I)ndependent People, the large-scale exhibition is a collaborative visual arts project that involves many of Reykjavík’s various exhibition spaces during the festival and throughout the summer. Two weeks ago I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to meet up with the curator of (I)ndependent people, Jonatan Habib Engqvist, in his time-intervals between answering e-mails and preparing last-minute actions. Over a long cup of coffee Jonatan told me all about the exhibition, his personal speculations about the project and his own role as a curator.

From the opening at Harpa Friday night

ONE BIG EXPERIMENT

The idea of (I)ndependent people came after a seminar called Alternative North that was hold in Reykjavík in 2011, concerning the economical crises and artists initiatives. The last two biennial formats at Reykjavík Arts Festival (curated by Jessica Morgan in 2005 & Ólafur Elíasson in 2008) were some “big deals” with big budgets. In between there were the financial crisis — and now it’s Jonatan’s turn to curate a biennale with artist-run initiatives.

“The brief I got from Reykajvík Arts Festival (Alternative power station of the North) was strong, even though it seemed like a quite job with compound co-operation between different institutions. But there was something exciting about it in terms of curating and I thought that maybe this complex co-operation might be an interesting focus for the whole biennale.”

Jonatan tells me genuinely how he never thought it would actually work out. He already had his job and gave a radical counter-proposal to the organizers of the festival.

“I thought that maybe this could be the concept itself — the collaboration — to make the biennale to an experiment and see if it holds. I received 100% support. When they said yes to the unbelievable there was no going back. And this whole support makes it a pretty radical exhibition in terms of an international biennale. The conglomerate of art galleries, artist-driven initiatives and artists groups (and their will to co-operate) is what will make this possible. You could say that the entire exhibition is like a one big experiment. Why? Cause it’s fun!”

A SINGLE SIMPLE RULE

“I have received so much support, incredibly much freedom — the organizers are satisfied as long as I keep the budget. Which is incredible and actually pretty cool.”

And from there — the collaboration — the idea starts growing. Jonatan tells me about the idea and how he really wants to take it as far as it goes. There are no solo artists, only groups and collaborations between artists — which is something opposite to the whole biennale logic.

“Normally biennales are based on superstars. And for me the curatorial process is exciting, even though I’ve had to say no to artists that are “big” and which work I like. But I have been very tough — holding hard to a one simple rule. NO solo artists. This is what the whole thing is based on. Everyone work on the same terms, there are no solo exhibitions and beside that there has to be a genuine exchange between partners, a negotiation and artwork that influences the theme.”

HOW MANY CURATORS TO SCREW A LIGHT BULB?

We discuss further the collaboration and I ask Jonatan about his role as a curator. He throws me an insider joke and asks me if I know how many curators I need to screw a light bulb?

“It depends on the budget! Everything will work out (or as they say in Iceland “þetta reddast”) as long as you keep budget. Do it yourself if you can’t afford it … So what I am trying to do is just to take some of the on-going happenings and gather them at one place. That’s what you do as a curator. To gather stuff and see what happens if you put this stuff in the same room. I see one thing there and another thing there — and wander what happens if I put them together. It’s not really that complicated.”

But I’m not sure I can buy that from him. The whole process seems complicated — a hard work. Having a dialogue, sharing visual perspectives, finding the artists right places in the context of the whole …

LIKE A HOUSE OF CARDS

… the whole of which is the collaboration. That is — NO SOLOS. And for Jonatan, being the only curator, makes it a bit bissare.

“It is an exhibition of collaboration, but I’m the only curator — which might create some sort of hirarki. But there is a dialogue, support and a concept that holds and helps working it all out. Still I’m there at the top. But maybe that’s ok. I think that there must be someone in charge, so if there is a disaster they can blame it on me. I might be the one that builds the infrastructure and context but I absolutely see the process as collective. It’s impossible otherwise. But it’s an experiment — bit like a house of cards — and if one cards falls it’s important to have someone who can point out and remind, as a part of the experiment.”

WHERE IS THE ART?

An experiment which is really exciting!The whole concept seems to be a lot about structures, experiments and dialoges — but will there be any art?

“Of course that’s a question that’s popped up in my mind. Working with group of artists is incredibly fun and interesting yet also complicated. The concept of infrastructures, research and experiments is a big part of the exhibition — but at the same time we just want to express art. It’s a framework for the art which is exhibited but not a scale of what you like and what you see. It’s challenging to let the art stand on its own — to see if it holds — and bring to the point both the visual as well as its intuition.”

Photographs taken from Reykjavík Arts Festival facebook page

And that might be an experiment on its own. Be sure to experience you own (I)ndependent people, which was opened yesterday. And if you’re not in Reykjavík, follow the festival with us, we’ll be reporting as much as we can!

xox

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Filed under Art festival, Curator, Curator Talk, Konsthopp, Reykjavik Arts Festival, Stockholm, Uncategorized, Visual Art