Supermarket Art Magazine #8

Page 1

ISSN 2000-8155

9 772000 815083 SEK100/€10/£8.80/USD12


artist-run art magazine

LEGACY Who Will Survive, and What Will Be Left of Them?



























53 52 51 PHOTO14+ ARTISTS








41 OEI







18 INCHINA 404

































Editorial Board EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Alice Máselníková CONTRIBUTING EDITOR PONTUS RAUD ART EDITOR ANDREAS RIBBUNG CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Lucas Battich, Axel Andersson, Alice Máselníková, Dizzcock (Ondřej Bělíček), Róbert Repka, Anna Tomaszewska, Gideon Smilansky, Gerald Heffernan, Mikael Löfgren, Pontus Raud, Caroline Wendling, Magdalena Blom CONTRIBUTING ARTISTS & PHOTOGRAPHERS Cato Lein (2), Zoe Beloff (8–9), F-WERK (8–9), Elias Hillström (11), Falko Erichsen (11), Jan Šrámek (13, 14, 15), Barbora Kleinhamplová (14), A2 (14), Christian Jankowski (17), Adam Šakový (17, 18, 19), Tomáš Kmeť (17), Slavomíra Ondrušová (18), Jorge Peris (19), Peter Jánošík (19), Filip Vančo (19), Juraj Rattaj (19), Brieke Drost (21), Anna Katie Zazenski (22), Styrmir Örn Guðmundsson (23), Bartosz Górka (24), Katarzyna Kalinowska (25), Jakub de Barbaro (26), Consortium for Post-Artistic Practices (26, 27), Luka Rayski (27), Radek Wojnar (27), Gregor Różański (27), ŻUBRZYCE (28), Joanna Stembalska (29), K.Włodek (29), Gideon Smilansky (30), Adi Levy (30), Dfna Gazit (31), Sofia Åhrman (34), Katharina Peter (35–39, 43–45), Mikaela Peterson (36), Bibbi Forsman (36–37), Johan Zetterqvist (38), Linda Tedsdotter (38), Camilla Engman (39), Pontus Raud (40–41), Ross Fraser McLean (43–45), Caroline Wendling (45), Mary Bourne (45), Sandra Sundström (46), Becko Ellnemar (46), Galleri Majkens (46–47), Gudrun Carlsson (47), Sandrina Cerda (47), Malin Lindgren (47) GRAPHIC DESIGN KATHARINA PETER TRANSLATION RICHARD G CARLSSON LANGUAGE EDITING AND PROOFREADING ALICE MÁSELNÍKOVÁ, STUART MAYES ADVERTISING SALES NADJA EKMAN ADVERTISING CONTACT AD@SUPERMARKETARTFAIR.COM ECONOMY ERIC TORESTAD PRINTING PRINTON TRüKIKODA LTD PUBLISHER PONTUS RAUD

Cover image: Birds Collections, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution. Photo by Chip Clark


Supermarket 2018 Team Who we are and what we look like.

Project Directors Pontus Raud Artist, co-founder of Supermarket, former member of Studio 44, public art consultant, multi instrumentalist and imperialistic gin drinker. Andreas Ribbung Artist, co-founder of Candyland and Supermarket, prime beard-wearer, zealous application writer in demand and renowned curry chef. Project Manager Alice Máselníková Artist, curator, editor, devoted friend of literature, freelance heavyweight lifter and persistent disputer from the sunlit lands of slivovice.


Talks & Performances Coordinator Franziska Sperling Multi-tasking museum officer mast­ ered in Cultural Studies, soft-spoken yet hardcore organiser, baking and cheese-party aficionado. Professional Networking Participants Coordinator Emer Ní Chíobháin Artist, co-founder of Sample-Studios and former member of Detroit Stockholm, cupbearer and spokes­ person for the leprechauns in diaspora. Meetings Coordinator Katarina Evasdotter Birath Education officer and accessibility coordinator at Nobel Museum, Cultural Studies Bachelor and peanut antagonist. Information & Volunteers Coordinator Paulina Granat Artist and illustrator, Uppsalaean undergraduate in Ethnology, hairstyle transformer and cultural entrepreneur in making.

Press Officer and Social Media Felicia Gränd Bakery shoplifter, relentless communicator, promising apprentice in Media, Communication studies and Marketing at Stockholm University. Social Media Assistant Kenneth Pils Artist, co-founder of the ‘Being in the world’ art project, former member of Studio44, habitual hat-wearer and in-law Laplandian. Bookkeeper Eric Torestad Ruralist, cultural anthropologist, numerolog and affectionate gardener. Graphic Designer Katharina Peter Remote alpinist typographer with affection for the Viking tribe, designer by day and passionate email conversationalist by night. Webmaster John W. Fail Trans-disciplinary events organiser, former Ptarmigan supervisor, enthusiastic sauna-goer and dream virtual companion come true. Proofreader Stuart Mayes Artist, shop-window gallery curator, fiery punctuation promoter and undercover flâneur based in Enköping. Ad sales Nadja Ekman Artist, co-founder of Candyland, member of Glimpse interactive mobile photo studio, teacher at Stockholm School of the Arts and obstinate nordic walk enthusiast. photo: Cato Lein

Information Assistant Sophie Lindberg Student of art history and gender studies, acclaimed pancake-producer with a long-term penchant for photo­ graphy.

artist-run art magazine #8


1 Editorial Board 2 Supermarket 2018 Team 5 Editorial 7 Legacy Playlist 8 The Nostalgic Impulse – Lucas Battich 10 Axel Andersson from Kritiklabbet presents ‘The Last Mass Mail’ at Supermarket 2018 13 Post-whatever interview with Dizzcock: On the Prague music scene, gentrification, music subcultures, cool caps, the medium and the message – Interview by Alice Máselníková 17 We don’t rely on selling artworks: The independent uncertainty of Slovak artist-run spaces – Róbert Repka 20 “What will be left after you?” 23 Legacy of Struggle – Anna Tomaszewska 30 Gideon Smilansky: Alliance of the Artist-Runs 32 The Meming of Harambe: The Legacy of a Former Ward of Cincinnati Zoo – Gerald Heffernan 34 Notes on Konstepidemin, January 2018 – Mikael Löfgren 40 The Postmodern Pop-up – Pontus Raud 43 White Wood: A Three Hundred-year-old Legacy – Caroline Wendling in conversation with Alice Máselníková 46 making room for women artists – Magdalena Blom

GOTHEN BURG FINE ART VALAND ACADEMY On-site & off-site exhibitions April—May 2018

3600 sq.m. on 6 floors with international contemporary art 2 hours from Stockholm Arlanda

Varje droppe färg i avloppet är en droppe för mycket


Foto: Ewa Ahlin och iStockphoto.

Du kan bidra till en bättre miljö genom att välja att måla med kadmiumfria färger och ta hand om dina färgrester på rätt sätt. Mer information om hur du målar miljöanpassat finns på

För renare sjöar och skärgård

editorial The individual legacy or the legacy of individualism When we selected legacy to be the overarching theme of Supermarket 2018, an album by an American band Murder by Death came to my mind. ‘Who will survive and what will be left of them?’ narrates the story of the Devil coming to a small Mexican town where he is shot and robbed whilst drinking a pint, and so he decides to take revenge on the whole city, and wipes the immoral inhabitants off the surface of the earth. Not to scrutinise the moral of the story, the title says a lot about certain questions of legacy – what consequences do my actions have? Who will remember me and how? What remains after us as humans, individuals or collectives, artists or politicians? In the secularised and growingly atheistic western societies there are no devils or deities who can decide for us what is right or wrong, how to take the best direction or make a mark on the world; we are left by ourselves without guidelines for a good life. Artist-run art spaces that constantly deal with the ephemerality of their existence, lack of status and uncertain futures often die out without even starting to function properly. The guidelines they follow, aside from their own idealism and vision, are mostly directed by cultural policies, rental prices and overall struggle for financial survival. Interdependence with art institutions is perhaps less obvious, yet the antagonism is vital for the art sector with their different aims, structures, markets, and publics to address – and sometimes resulting in lasting collaborations. In his ‘Winter Notes on Summer Impressions’ Dostoevsky wrote that people are no longer in need of great ideas and just want to live their own lives. He used this as a criticism of the 19th century petty bourgeoisie unable to stand up for unifying values and other than their own comfort. The pattern has re-emerged and individualism is now one of the key notions of postmodernity and liberal democracy – and, above all, marketed as its biggest achievement, with the self-indulgent “be yourself – be happy” motto appropriated as the main driving force of the era. The inspirational message of singular happiness is omnipresent in popular culture and most often devoid of any subtlety: from L’Oréal’s “Because you’re worth it,” through Nike’s “Find your greatness” or “The only limit is you,” to “Be the change

you want to see in the world,” a bogus quote attributed to Gandhi, and so on. Yet it is the very principles of collaboration and shared perspective that define the nature of the non-profit art sector. Instead of nurturing the star persona of the curator or gallery director who pursues their own particular interests, a common cause is developed through shared work processes and flat hierarchy – and the pressure of the individualistic art market is thus challenged. This is important for a broader understanding of the legacy of art, as the romantic notion of artists who channel their inner genius by and for themselves, independent of the society and its demands, is a mere utopian image. It is only within a specific context where an artwork is created and gains its meaning, legibility and historical credibility. Nevertheless, there is a major difference between the narrow-scoped legacy of individualism and individual legacy. Where the former remains within the preset limits of one monetised political ideology, the latter refers to how we utilise, contextualise and bequeath our talents, aims and efforts. This magazine issue opens with a short pondering on nostalgia, the good old melancholic friend of memory. In the Legacy of Harambe, the unpredictable nature of internet memes is shown in the case of Harambe, the late Cincinnati Zoo gorilla inhabitant. With Supermarket 2018’s focus on Central Europe, we discover the Slovakian self-organised gallery sector, peek into the undergrounds of music with the Prague-based music producer Dizzcock, and gain insight into the Polish artist-run scene’s re-formulated relationship to art institutions influenced by the recent changes in the country’s cultural policy. A short feature on The Last Mass Mail presents a collaboration between Kritiklabbet and Supermarket 2018, and a special insert introduces Galleri Majkens, a new Stockholm feminist art space. This and much more – the edition embraces a rather loose but varied scale of articles under the umbrella of legacy, both individual and collective. I hope that you will enjoy the reading. Alice Máselníková, Editor-in-chief


Foto: Ole Jais

Landskrona konsthall Landskronit Visas 14–22 april 2018 Fotoutställning. Arr: Fotosällskapet Urinvånarna. Asle Nyborg och Lage Pergon Visas 5 maj–17 juni 2018 Skulptur och måleri. Arr: Landskrona konstförening. Nell Walden – jag ville något med mitt liv Visas 30 juni–19 augusti 2018 Om konstnären och Der Sturm organisatören Nell Walden.

INGEN ÄGER TIDEN Vem har rätt till historien? Kungliga konsthögskolan på Örebro läns museum

24 mars – 27 maj 2018

Landskrona Foto Festival 14–23 september 2018 Tio dagar med utställningar, föredrag, workshops och mer. Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd – Tecknet. Ordet. Siffran. Visas 12 oktober–25 november 2018 En utställning om konstnären Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd och hans förhållande till ord, siffror och tecken.

Legacy Playlist 1

Everybody Wants To Rule The World

Tears For Fears

“All for freedom and for pleasure, nothing ever lasts forever. Everybody wants to rule the world.” Do people actually fantasise about ruling the world?


From Gagarin’s Point of View

Esbjörn Svensson Trio

I want to see what he saw.


This Country

Fever Ray

“Free abortions and clean water.”


The War of the Worlds

Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version

Because it’s just freaking amazing, and the evil aliens, I wish they would actually come.


Der Ring des Nibelungen

Richard Wagner

Valhalla and all the Gods are destroyed. The whole society goes to hell. A fifteen hour long playlist makes space for one’s life contemplation.



Sven-Bertil Taube

From the 1970s movie Äppelkriget. Sung by Sven-Bertil Taube, the son of the Swedish legendary songwriter Evert Taube, who wrote it for the film, which is about exploiting a beautiful countryside. “Jorden vi ärvde,” the earth we inherited.



Ali Farka Touré

Traditional music taking inspiration from blues, which comes from West African music. The snake bites its tail.


Life on Mars?

David Bowie

Life on Earth?


My Way

Paul Anka/Frank Sinatra

“For what is a man, what has he got / If not himself, then he has naught / To say the things he truly feels / And not the words of one who kneels / The record shows I took the blows / And did it my way.”


I Was Here


And she is still here! We are still here!


The Legacy

Iron Maiden




It sounds like he sings “Legacies – Fun!” but it’s actually “Black X6, Phantom”!


To Die Amongst Strangers


Gives you the shrills. “The whores of Rome and the kings of France / Have tried to brave my fire / Now the snakes curl up, the curtains part.”



Cosmic Truth

The only truth is the cosmic truth.


Until Morale Improves, the Beatings Will Continue

Murder by Death

From the album Who Will Survive, And What Will Be Left Of Them? There is definitely some moral advice to be taken in regard to whether or not it is a good idea to shoot and rob the Devil.


Visa från Utanmyra

Jan Johansson

A modest Swedish folk song turned famous.


Jorge Ben

Taj Mahal

No relation to of a princess and a prince.


Waitin’ Around To Die

Townes Van Zandt

Life choices.



Yusuf / Cat Stevens



Marble House

The Knife

How to raise your children.


Get Down Moses

Joe Strummer

As a friend of mine said: “Bra gung!” and the lyrics fit.


My Night

Billie Trix (Frances Barber) and cast from the 2001 Pet Shop Boys stage musical ‘Closer to Heaven’

A very personal choice – my boyfriend who died in 2007, claimed that this was his signature tune – it’s clubby, clever, irreverent, and reaches an extravagant climax. We played it at his funeral service.


One Minute To Midnight


Melodic, grand and electronic. It reminds me of theme songs / soundtracks from old post-WW2 movies, touching upon a strong fear of a WW3 approaching, gently reminding us that there is misery to come in the future...


Ends of the Earth

Lord Huron

“What good is livin’ a life you’ve been given / If all you do is stand in one place.”


Are You What You Want To Be?

Foster The People

A prime existential question in under five minutes.


We Were Here


“And the rains get rough, but time can’t wash us off / We won’t ever disappear.” Makes me want to dance all day long.

The Nostalgic Impulse Lucas Battich “Today the canon appears less a barricade to storm than a ruin to pick through.” (Hal Foster, 2002, p. 81)

Zoe Beloff, ‘Glass House’, video-stills, 2015

The cultural bequest of others is for us to uphold,

of the modern teleology of progress, nostalgia became a

process, recreate, and to police. What is remembered

longing for a lost time, either a time located in the past

and how is one of the paramount jobs not just of

history, or an imagined home within an imagined

museum curators and archivists, but of the whole

utopic, even future time.

artistic populace, from institutions to dealers, collectors, and, most importantly perhaps, artists

In our forward-looking progress-obsessed times, it may

themselves. In dealing with this legacy, it seems all too

seem uncritical to look back with a nostalgic tinge to

easy to aggrandise the splendor of past achievements,

some past artistic grandeur, be it the Dutch old

often to the denigration of our own cultural times. In

masters, the formal concerns of modernism, or even

this respect, it is helpful to be aware of any nostalgic

the anti-nostalgic spirit of the early avant-garde. But

impulse that may affect us.

not all nostalgic impulses are naive or uncritical. In her perspicuous study of the malady, Svetlana Boym deline-

The word nostalgia comes from two Greek roots. Nostos

ates two different nostalgic impulses, which provide a

signifies “return home”, algia signifies “sorrow”. The

critical basis to address the nostalgia often displayed,

word was coined by Swiss doctor Johannes Hofer in

both implicitly and explicitly, in the arts of our time. On

1688, who thought his scientific neologism was

the one hand, there is what Boym terms restorative

particularly suitable “to define the sad mood originat-

nostalgia, which “puts emphasis on nostos and proposes

ing from the desire for the return to one’s native land.”1

to rebuild the lost home and patch up the memory

Among the first victims of the newly diagnosed disease

gaps.”3 Politically motivated nationalist revivals, and

were freedom-loving students from the Republic of

reconstructions of past monuments fall under this

Berne studying in Basel, domestic help and servants

category. In fact, many projects driven by a restorative

working in France and Germany, and Swiss soldiers

nostalgic tendency do not consider themselves

fighting abroad. With the advent of Romanticism,

nostalgic at all. There is a reflective nostalgic tendency

nostalgia passed from being a curable sickness and an

on the other hand which emphasises algia. Reflective

object of medicine, to a more abstract condition in the

nostalgia does not attempt a recovery or return to some

realms of literature, philosophy and art.2 In the context

mythical past, but thrives on the notion of the

impossibility of any nostalgic return. It is enamored of

uncritically revive Eisenstein’s project, nor to erect

distance, not of the referent itself: “reflective nostalgia

monuments. By using the term reflective, Boym

lingers on ruins, the patina of time and history, in the

suggests that this nostalgic tendency also contains the

dreams of another place and another time” (Ibid.).

possibility of the criticism of its own nostalgic feeling. In this sense, the loss – the object of nostalgia – is

In her 2015 film and installation ‘Glass House’,

never completely recalled. There are no obsessive

exhibited at the PrintRoom during the International

attempts to rebuild the lost home or object. Instead,

Film Festival Rotterdam and part of a larger project A

“this type of nostalgic narrative is ironic, inconclusive

World Redrawn: Eisenstein and Brecht in Hollywood, artist

and fragmentary.” Embodying this reflective nostalgic

and writer Zoe Beloff exemplifies this reflective

impulse, ‘Glass House’ is aware of the mythical and

nostalgic impulse. The film and installation are based

constructed nature of its own sentiments. While it

on Sergei Eisenstein’s notes and drawings for a science

conjures up a vision of Eisenstein’s world, it also invites

fiction movie of the same title, ‘Glass House’, that was

us to reflect upon the gap that separates that world

never realised. The movie was pitched to Paramount

from our own. ■

Studios during Eisenstein’s visit to Los Angeles in 1930, and was to be a satire of capitalism’s powers of illusion and make-believe. In presenting this failed project, Beloff’s film makes ingenious use of archive footage arranged within an architectural framework of


transparent walls and surveillance, and includes

Foster, Hal, ‘Archives of Modern Art’, October, vol. 99, 2002, 81–95.

recitations from Eisenstein’s notes, with several nods to

1  Hofer, Johannes, translated by Carolyn Kiser Anspach, ‘Medical Dissertation on Nostalgia by Johannes Hofer’, Bulletin of the Institute of History of Medicine, vol. 2, no. 6, 1934 [1688], 376–391, p. 380.

1930s Walt Disney style. The installation is certainly a celebration, a kind of homage, to Eisenstein. It has a degree of nostalgia, as if the work intends to channel Eisenstein’s energy and his criticism of America. Yet Beloff never attempts to

2  Starobinski, Jean, translated by William S. Kemp, ’The Idea of Nostalgia’, Diogenes, vol. 54, 1966, 81–103. 3  Boym, Svetlana, ‘The Future of Nostalgia’, Basic Books, New York 2002, p. 41.

Zoe Beloff, ‘Glass House’, PrintRoom, installation (wood, glass, digital video), 2015, photo: F-WERK

Axel Andersson from Kritiklabbet presents ‘The Last Mass Mail’ at Supermarket 2018 If you wander around the art fair this year at some point you will come across Kritiklabbet’s editorial corner. What happens there is the public editing and production of The Last Mass Mail, “an experiment in participatory citizens’ criticism” as goes the description by Axel Andersson, the editor of Kritiklabbet. During the art fair, a number of issues will be published and distributed amongst the visitors on a daily basis. The overarching theme of the newspaper, related to Supermarket 2018’s theme Legacy, will be the work of art that we want to take to eternity. The audience at the art fair is invited to contemplate this question when approaching the exhibited artworks. All the contributions will be collected from the visitors. Everyone is invited to send a short text (150 words maximum) about an artwork they want to be remembered, for whatever reason, together with an image of it (an installation shot or a detail) and send it to A collected compendium of all the editions will be deposited at the The National Library of Sweden after the fair has closed.

labbet’s work? What is the difference between a work of art seen by an art professional and a so-called non-professional? – It might not always seem like it, but in the wake of the digitalisation, western society has gone through a profound democratisation. More people can express themselves in whatever way they want, and even exclaim their disrespect for previously venerated idols and authorities. This is not a smooth ride, but it is an interesting one. At Kritiklabbet it has been important to understand the changing public sphere and see how criticism can work with it in a constructive way. We also cherish democracy, Masskritik, screenshot of tumblr blog for Kritiklabbet’s participatory criticism at Gothenburg book fair 2016

understood as a shared common world and not only as What can we look forward to reading in The Last Mass

a system of governance. In this context, a dialogical

Mail? – The Last Mass Mail (TLMM) will feature critical

form of criticism needs to be articulated. Participatory

responses to art works written by visitors at Supermar-

criticism is one such form. Put simply, the receiver of

ket 2018, as well as short essays on aesthetic theory

the art work can become a producer of her or his own

published in the format of a feuilleton. A not-for-profit

reception, not merely a consumer of artistic products.

art fair creates a messy, fluid, and intense context

For this, it can be useful to have help from someone

where it is easy to lose sight of the singular works

who is familiar with the tools of the craft of writing

themselves. We want to redirect the gaze back to the

criticism. This creation of a combined consumer/

art. TLMM will become a map for finding something, or

producer position was inspired by the internet in its

for getting lost in a different way and on a different

utopian childhood when it still had a contributive soul.

level of concentration. But exactly how the paper will

That is, before it fell prey to platform capitalism

look is up to the visitors – up to us! That is the exciting

business, and went to the dogs.

bit. We simply do not know. So the brief answer to what we can look forward to reading is criticism in a broad

Regarding the question of what differs if the art is seen

definition: selections. What would we like to take with

by a ‘professional’ or not. First, let us at some basic level

us from the fair. And maybe, even save for eternity?

all be allowed to be amateurs – that is, in the original meaning as lovers of something – and maybe even be a

Why is the idea of participatory criticism that is, a

bit clumsy and spontaneous exactly like those in love!

critical approach of the general public to art pieces, or

Some people have the knowledge of the craft and of the

products of culture in general, important to Kritik­

ethical framework as well as the ability to earn some

(but very little) money from criticism. But this

concentrated critical work in the paper and let

professionality needs the context of the non-profession-

everything through. This is how the media worked

al. The important bit here is not that there is an

before they became ‘social’. We believe that this kind of

amateur gaze and a professional one; that is not how

care for the shared public space has positive elements

participatory criticism works. Instead, the idea is to set

that could be incorporated in the future of media. At

up contexts where professionals and amateurs can

least we dream and experiment in that direction.

meet, discuss and inspire each other. This may be a

Democracy is not about the right to say anything,

first step for someone to become a professional, or a

anywhere to anyone.

means for the professional to reflect together with those who are the audience for their criticism. The aim

It is also important to underline that we are editorially

is to explore what a ‘culture of criticism’ might be,

independent from Supermarket 2018. Those running

rather than just engage with the criticism of culture.

the art fair will not be able to intervene in the

So, the relevant question is how a professional–amateur

publication process, in terms of influencing what we

meeting can generate new ways of looking at art that is

publish or do not. If you would like to contribute under

relevant for our times. How this will pan out is hard to

a pseudonym, this is also fine – as long as we, the

guess. It is an experiment. Let’s find out!

editorial team, know who you are.

Why do you ask for a combination of image and text

The overarching theme of the newspaper will be the

for the contribution to the newspaper? Why not just

work of art we want to take to eternity. How do you

text, what does the image add to the opinion? – It is, of

want to relate this to the experience of the readers/

course, perfectly possible to have art criticism without

contributors? – You can’t bring stuff to heaven, but you

images. However, the image is part of the genre

are welcome to bring it to eternity! Or at least to a long

convention. The images usually used in reviews are

period of time. In five hundred years, there will only be

installation shots provided by the institution (gallery,

a faint rumor going around when someone unexpect-

museum etc). Technically such images are part of the

edly unearths a copy of The Last Mass Mail from a

work’s description. It helps our understanding of the

dilapidated archive or a burial site (from those rough

work. Such descriptions are not uncritical, contrary to

times when the lining of coffins was done with

what is often said. They always contain critical

newspaper). It is quite simple after all, and madden-

elements of what is described or not. And images are, of

ingly complex: if you could pick a work of art at the fair

course, not innocent documentation. They are points of

and humbly hope that people will, in some capacity,

views. When the institution controls the images of art

talk about it after we are all gone, which one would it

then they also control one part of the critical process.

be? ■

Kritiklabbet striking a pose in connection to the release of a special issue dedicated to the theme of ‘Harmlessness’, 2017, photo: Elias Hillström The Last Mass Mail front page preview, Rikard Fåhraeus, ‘Offer’, mixed media sculpture, Studio 44 at Supermarket 2017, photo: Falko Erichsen

We would like to see what happens if we reconquer that part. And, besides, almost all of us carry powerful cameras in our pockets. We can go close, on the level of detail, or far away to achieve new framings. Everything is possible. The image is criticism. Will the contributions be edited? Will you publish anything that the visitors send in? – There will be a

The Last

Mass Mail Kritiklabbet at Supermarket 2018

No 1 ∙ Thursday ∙ 12 April 2018 ∙ Stockholm

light editing of the texts if needed, but respectful (it might come down to correcting some spelling and so on). The main editorial intervention, however, is in how the material is framed. We will supply a title and a lead paragraph. We will also put the material together, as the layout is also part of the editorial process. If you wonder how it all works, come by and ask us at the fair! And, yes, of course we will not publish material that we would not like to print. It remains the publisher’s responsibility to not break the law for example. We are also people of flesh and blood and would not like to print things that hurt our fellow human beings. Publishing without retaining the prerogative not to publish is senseless. That is why one has editors and an editorial board in the first place. It is also a question of trust. We ask for readers’ attention with this project, and it would be careless if we did not invest our

LEGACY: Who Will Survive, and What Will Be Left of Them? ‘Offer’ • Rikard Fåhraeus • mixed media sculpture Studio 44 at Supermarket 2017, Photo: Falko Erichsen

Does it make any difference what will happen to our art after we are gone – and what difference does it make when we are here? We feel that the idea of legacy is a relevant topic for artist-run art spaces, who constantly deal with ephemerality of their existence and status. Legacy in this context is closely followed by legitimacy, with artworks and artistic practices justified by their pedigree, gaining value through historical definitions and constructs of the market. Institutions

face similar problems: museums, archives and contemporary galleries fulfil their purpose by preserving dead and living artists, but how they do it and whom they reach is another issue. Legacy is not only what is left after us, but also what has been left to us.


24 FEBRUARI–20 MAJ 2018


THE ONLY WAY IS UP 26 maj–26 augusti

Jorunn Myklebust Syversen, Crying Man, 2016, videoverk

Curator: Maya Økland

Kulturhuset Komedianten |

Jone Kvie, Second Messenger #4 (2017). Foto © Niklas Hansson, Courtesy of ELASTIC Gallery.


Post-whatever interview with Dizzcock On the Prague music scene, gentrification, music subcultures, cool caps, the medium and the message Interview by Alice Máselníková

In the description of your music, you say you make

Is there any sub-culture specifically connected to

post-rave, or post-grime, or something like that, I

these music scenes? You always wear a kind of cool

confuse them all together. Why is it so popular to give

baseball cap, does one have to wear one if you want to

these post-whatever labels to music genres today?

be part of the post-X clique? – I wear my cool cap

Does such an artificially constructed name actually

because I like to have it on me when I am partying. The

bring new elements to music, or is it simply to attract

thing I find interesting about Lightning Glove’s shows is

new audiences when really it only recycles the old

that they attract all sorts of different people. We played

genres? – In our band Lightning Glove we use the label

for rockers, punks, metalheads, ravers, hip-hoppers and

post-rave on purpose, because the heritage of the rave

hipsters. But yes, I feel that at many parties and shows,

scene from the early 90s is something that we want to

especially in Prague, there is this weird subliminal

carry on with us. Not so much music-wise as in a sense

pressure that one needs to look perfect and cool. I

of what it represents. The idea of diy free parties

remember when at one music festival someone told me

resonates strongly among us. Today, it is very difficult

that my jeans looked “too conservative”. You see, for

to come across such a party. We are grateful that we

some people even my cool cap could not save me from

could play at squats and abandoned buildings in Bristol,

looking like an idiot.


Hannover or Prague. Every time we had the opportunity to play at these kind of parties, it was the most fulfilling

How is it with producing and publishing your music in

experience. The whole event instantly gets this ‘free

the Czech Republic? Do you publish your tracks on

and friendly’ vibe unlike shows where you play in

vinyl or have them available to download online only?

ordinary clubs. When you go to the club you feel like a

Are these the usual ways for starting music producers

guest who has to be served because you paid some

to spread their music? I think it has been a very hyped

money to enter, and you expect artists to entertain you

thing, right, recently, to buy vinyl and chill down and

and keep you in your comfort zone. But during free

watch the record spin around whilst smoking pot.

parties you feel like you are a participant rather than a

Well … that is what I imagine all the cool Prague kids

mere guest and suddenly it is okay to go outside of your

do... – Well, it is all about money. At our label Red for

comfort zone and just enjoy your evening. The main

Colour Blind we release music on cassette. And it is not

difference between the 90s rave and our music is that

because it is cool and hipsters are loving it. We operate

we make dark and unnerving sound whereas early rave

with low-budget, so if we want to release our music in

music was more about positivity and love. That is why I

some physical format, we choose tapes. The cheaper

like to call our music hate-rave. In my solo project

way is to release your music on CDs, but its not a format

Dizzcock I sometimes refer to the post-grime label. It is

that we prefer. I agree that cassette is a very exclusive

just a way to express the affiliation to a certain music

format nowadays and only audiophiles tend to buy it.

scene, while knowing that your music is not really a

You also need a tape deck or walkman to play tape, and

proper grimey thing. You can call it a recyclation of the same-old, if you want. However, in today’s music, everything is recyclation of some genre. You can not really invent something truly new in music nowadays. I think that this deconstruction of dance music genre opens up many ways to make music and how it sounds. Genres that recently popped-up in the electronic music industry, like electro chaabi, batida, juke, gqom etc. were invented on the outskirts of big cities and they are also based on the deconstruction of popular global genres mixed with specific local sounds.

Dizzcock, Jan Šrámek & Lumír Nykl, still from ‘Between the World and Me’, 4:53, 2017

lots of people are telling us that they will not buy the tape because they do not have the equipment to play it on. It also has qualities that are unique. The sound of a reeling tape is like a sad and melancholic howling. The sound of a CD is sterile and it does not add anything special to the music. We produce only limited editions of cassettes and you can also buy a digital version online. The sales’ numbers of tapes and the digital version are more or less the same. Thinking about it, I would love to release our music on vinyl actually. But it is almost ten times more expensive than releasing it on tape. We are not a big label, so the sales of our records are uncertain and in the end we would not be able to cover our costs. I think that this is the way all the alternative labels in Czech Republic operate. Very few of them release their music on vinyl. We were lucky with Lightning Glove that the British label ONO TESLA decided to release our album Radical Zoo and Raving Peacock’s Tail on vinyl. Interestingly, we are going to have a new album released very soon on a Czech label NONA, and it will be in vinyl format. NONA is a rather new label and it is related to the popular Bastl Instruments company that makes handmade electronic musical instruments. I am not sure though if spinning vinyl is a hype thing around here. I would say that playing tracks online via Spotify, Soundcloud, Bandcamp etc is more common around here.


In your album Elegy of Unsung Heroes you talk about issues of gentrification and spaces that are forcefully

Dizzcock, portrait, 2016, photo: Barbora Kleinhamplová Dizzcock & VJ Kolouch, 10 years of Ádvojka, Neone, Prague, 2015, photo: A2

emptied out to be taken over by development

place close to the city center for organising shows with

companies. Why do you deal with these topics? Is this

quality sound and space. It is called the Underdogs’

something that is directly relevant to you and

Ballroom, and is located in the former administrative

happening in Prague at the moment? Is this a larger

building near the Smichov Railway Station. It is owned

problem in the Czech Republic? – It is a huge problem

by people from around the popular hardcore music

around here. Right now it is even more serious than it

festival, the Fluff Festival. They have been reconstruct-

was two years ago when my album came out. There are

ing the building with their own money, attempting to

more and more neighbourhoods where ordinary people

turn it into an independent music space. Another good

cannot live anymore. The rental prices in the center of

spot for alternative music shows is situated way out of

Prague are also growing due to airbnb. People who work

the city centre, the autonomous social centre Klinika.

in ordinary jobs are moving to the outskirts of the city.

We had a great show there few months ago. Gentrifica-

It is an extremely unsustainable situation and everyone

tion is a problem for all the bigger cities in the whole

is just waiting until this bubble bursts. It also affects

world. When something like Underdogs’ Ballroom or the

the music culture. There are not many alternative

Klinika squat appears in your city, it is a blessing that

venues left, especially in the center of the city, where

unfortunately does not last for long. I hope that at least

the enthusiastic promoters, who organise events for

Underdogs’ Ballroom will remain for many years to

their favourite bands and upcoming musicians, could


book their shows. After the recent closing of the popular pop-up club Neone, there is only one suitable

How much impact can such niche music, or any narrow and genre-specific art scene, have on the audience and can the message you want to convey even get through to them? – Well, in the case of my album Elegy of Unsung Heroes I think that the audience got the message judging by the reviews and the reception it got when I won the Vinyla award for the album of the year. One music critic even stated that I am the “new voice of revolution”, which is a bit

exaggerated if you ask me, but why not. It is a nice

the visuals to work in close connection to the music. I

compliment. Regarding Lightning Glove, I was very

think that the role of VJing during music shows is to

positively surprised that especially people from

underline the message and vibe of the music. If it works

England appreciated the lyrics of our tracks. One guy

just as a supplement to the music, it becomes boring

from Manchester told us that we should play in

and pointless.

Glasgow. He was suggesting that when the people out there hear our tracks, there will be rioting on the

Will anyone remember post-rave in ten or twenty

streets. Nonetheless, I also came across a weird

years? Will you still be making your music? – I do not

reaction to one of the tracks where the main verse is

think anyone will remember it because it is not an

“Europe is falling in the mud”. It was in Brussels around

actual thing. It is just a label that we created for

four years ago. Some coked-up dude who looked Arabic

ourselves. When we started to play, a lot of people came

was over-excited about this track and he kept telling me

to us and asked us what kind of music is that. We were

that he totally digs the lyrics, and that he also hates the

amused by such a reaction. Lots of people could not

zionist capitalist pigs from the USA. I was trying to tell

understand what was happening. I did not know what

him that that is not what the track is about, but he

to answer, so we were talking about our inspirations

would not listen. I was stunned and for the first time I

and music that we like. In the end we figured out that if

realised how differently can people understand the

you say post-rave and explain what it means, then

message that you are trying to convey. People in the

people might finally understand it in some way. We do

Czech Republic don’t really get lyrics in English and I

not really place much emphasis on the genre label, but

think that a lot of them who have heard our stuff do not

at the same time, when you put your stuff on Sound-

fully understand what the tracks mean and they just go

cloud, Spotify or Bandcamp, the system requires you to

with the vibe of the sound.

put it in a certain box, so that the algorithm of the system can put it in some category and recommend it

Do you feel that you need an image, a visual side to

to the listener who is playing something similar and so

music? Your live sessions are often accompanied by

on. Post-grime, on the other hand, is the actual genre

visuals and you have produced work and video clips

that is taking specific music elements from grime music

together with the video artist VJ Kolouch. I just

and using them in a different way. Its sound is often

wonder: is music itself not enough? It was enough for

very spectral-like. some of my favourite producers who

classical compositions and jazz and they are still alive

are associated with this genre are Visionist, v1984,

and grand – no-one needs to see videos with

Murlo and Celestial Trax. I do not know if I will be

Rachmaninov or Tchaikovsky’s music. – I think that in

making music in ten or twenty years, but I hope that

some way you definitely need a certain visual side that

some people will at that time still remember that

further defines you. It does not necessarily have to be

something like Dizzcock and Lightning Glove existed.


the visuals, but the audience tends to not only listen to your music, but they also look at you, your clothes, the

Dizzcock is a Prague-based music producer and a

way you move and so on. They associate the look with

member of the murky Czech post-rave trio Lightning

your music and it helps them understand the concept of

Glove. He received the Vinyla award for best Czech

what your music is all about. I would say that the visual

album of 2015. Albums: A.L., Night Rider, Elegy of

culture and how people perceive it has changed

Unsung Heroes, available on cassette and online. ■

dramatically since the times when Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky were composing their pieces. Today’s audience demands the visual. They love to watch video clips. Look at contemporary hip-hop stars like Travis Scott or ASAP Rocky. They understood this trend very well and now they make amazing movie-like video clips. It is all due to Youtube and the internet in general. The younger generation does not watch TV anymore, they look at Youtube videos, and artists make profit from it if it is popular. In my case it is a bit different. I understand that you need some visual side nowadays, but my aspiration is not to be a Youtube star. When I was making my first release, A.L., I had this idea to make specific visuals to accompany my tracks during live shows. I did not know how to do it though and at that moment VJ Kolouch approached me and said that he likes my music and he would like to make visuals for me. We worked on it very carefully because we wanted

VJ Kolouch & New Magic Media, screenshots from AV performance Dizzcock, 2017

När du har en utställning i Oslo När tavlorna välter i lastbilen När du spiller kaffe på datorn När nån snor dina alster När nån nallar din smartphone När nån snubblar in i din skulptur När du trampar på en spik När nån trampar på din spik När du hamnar i rätten När du hamnar på sjukan en tid När du flänger på jobb i Berlin När du får en vattenskada i ateljén När det brinner i knutarna Rätt skönt att ha allt försäkrat Ring 08-440 54 40 eller besök

SIROUS NAMAZI – METROPOLIS 3 mars – 29 april 2018

Fri entré

We don’t rely on selling artworks The independent uncertainty of Slovak artist-run spaces Róbert Repka

Despite the strong tradition of Slovak conceptualism

However, what the local rather conservative and

since the 1970s and the interest in Eastern European art

provincial Slovak art scene needed was a spark of

in the 1990s, forty years of Socialist rule left the

young, independent, and spontaneous alternatives.

self-organised gallery scene depleted. Nevertheless, it

Three years after the establishment of Hit Gallery,

was later, at the turn of millennia, that the first

Bastart Contemporary, the brainchild of Petra

non-governmental, private, and independent galleries

Feriancova, was created. “The in-your-face provocative

started to slowly emerge. “Speaking of galleries, these

name was something unheard of in these parts, and the

first years seem to me very reminiscent of the dark

gallery did its best to live up to the ‘les enfants

ages,” recalls a young Slovak artist Roman Bicek. Even

terribles’ image,” says Roman who was personally

though all the newly emerging galleries shared similar

involved with its origins. It represented a grassroots alternative to the status quo and the elitism so often perceived in the art world. In this light, one might argue that the tensions between the established and the alternative scene, or the cause and effect principle, might be the essential driving forces for many artist-run initiatives.


With a similar motivation, another student-run gallery Photoport was founded in Bratislava in 2006. During the past twelve years of exhibiting, its goals have remained the same: to be an independent, alternative and free exhibition space supporting young, emerging and talented artists, whose lack of self-assertion does not reflect their quality. Currently, Photoport is the leading and defining example of what an artist-run gallery in Slovakia means to be. In the words of its chief-curator Filip Vančo, “A key feature of an artist-run space is not only the artists’ mutual understanding and prioritising of quality over profit. In our case, it is also the very problems, the alternative and independent ones

selection of artists who we cooperate with. In addition

struggled harder in finding sustainable funding and

to long-term collaborations we also focus on discover-

support. The same situation prevails today and many

ing young talented artists as well as re-discovering

artist-run galleries tend to vanish after few years of

forgotten or neglected authors of the older generation.”

initial enthusiasm.

Photoport represents a counter-example to the

Among the first artist-run spaces in Slovakia was

established, profit-based, and commercial art scene.

Hit Gallery formed in 2003 in the premises of the

“Our strength lies in the independence from market

Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava. “Given the location, as well as the demographics of its visitors, I would definitely say that the atmosphere feels more akin to that of a ‘student gallery’. However, with that being said, the Hit Gallery is still going strong to this day, and – building upon its niche – has long since become the premier artist-run gallery in Bratislava,” asserts Roman. Being part of the Academy, allows not only the meeting of professionals and amateurs but also of the established and the independent.

Christian Jankowski, ‘Walking Logic’, exhibition installation view, 2017, photo: Adam Šakový ‘Breaking Balance’, group exhibition view, 2017, photo: Tomáš Kmeť

pressure. We do not rely on selling artworks” states

struggle to preserve their independence and alternative

Vančo. However, a recent rejection for financial support

qualities, Beastro bar was rather a temporal interven-

by the Slovak Arts Council might result in Photoport’s

tion into the local artist-run scene, having existed

eventual closure. “On the other hand, we feel much

slightly over one year between 2016 and 2017. Photogra-

freer. Sometimes unfavourable conditions can be very

phers Ivan Kalev and Michaela Dutková, both keen on

inspiring,” continues Vančo.

pursuing something different and unconventional,

In close collaboration with Photoport, HotDock Gallery

created an alternative gallery space, a social melting

run by Juraj Rattaj is an example of how a single

pot for contemporary artists and like-minded individu-

individual’s willingness and passion for art and

als. Soon it had become a space for engagement and a

exhibiting can overcome often unfavourable circum-

bridge between the artistic and the non-artist world. In

stances. Founded in Bratislava city centre, then moving

Ivan’s words, “Beastro was an unconventional space, that was the basic idea. It was very simple, yet very dangerous. If you stayed long it had its risks, it could mess with your mind. It came about from the need to socialise and, at the same time, it was a sanctuary for people trying to escape. I was observing the evolution of this dynamic space. The objective was accomplished, the experiment was successful.” To move away from the Slovakian capital, in its eastern counterpart in Košice, a collective of artists founded the Make Up Gallery in 2011. It follows the artist-run logic and thus rejects mainstream and commercial orientation. Moreover, they not only aim to present local artists but also to reach out to quality young artists abroad. “We would like to challenge the common attitude that young artists create only weird things. We do not want to be categorised like that. We would also welcome older generation of visitors,” they state. The most recent addition to the artist-run scene is Temporary Parapet led by a young Slovak artist

Slavomíra Ondrušová, ‘Must’, wax, mixed media, 2017, photo: Adam Šakový

Alexandra Barth in Bratislava. Her aim is to propose an to the industrial periphery and ending up in the

alternative to the galleries who are either exclusive,

forgotten margins of the biggest urban neighbourhood

rely on quantity of new artists presented, or lack proper

in Slovakia, Petržalka, its white-cube exhibition space

selection and hence they remain without clear attitude

has always been in strong contrast to the gallery’s

and eventually become mediocre. “I would like to

location, always resulting in a special and unique

question the usual set-up of the art-scene in Slovakia

ambiguity. Its mission is to organise short-term

and present a different point of view,” she asserts. As a

exhibitions for emerging young artists and recent

practising artist, Alexandra appreciates the opportu-

graduates. In the light of the manifold of struggles,

nity to communicate with artists and strives for a

anxieties, and problems that Rattaj has stumbled upon,

mutual understanding. “There is no gallerist-artist hier-

HotDock manifests dedication, enviable motivation,

archy; in the artist-run sector you are all colleagues. I

and an almost stubborn passion for art and the

still have to be the one in charge but more as a host or a

presentation of young artists. “My greatest motivation

guide than a director,” Alexandra explains. Similarly to

is the collaboration and communication with the

HotDock and Photoport, the key and specific features of

artists. That is what keeps me going. If it ends, I do not

an artist-run space are its freedom and non-predefined

see it as a tragedy, I will be looking for a different place.

approach or goal. “The absence of the pressure to sell,

I know it is not forever, it is not a sustainable situation,

which often comes with a financial partner, makes you

and I cannot influence it by any means,” Rattaj says

free to choose to exhibit only what you truly believe is

recalling the uncertain times after he was kicked out

worth it.”

from the industrial harbour. Thanks to Rattaj’s

As described above, sustainability, funding and support

ultimate devotion, motivation, enthusiasm, and even

together with the small scope of the sector are the

quixotic passion, HotDock still exists. In its ephemeral-

essential problems of Slovak independent artist-run

ity and constant movement, it has been shaped by

scene. This was supposed to change with the new

various struggles, although always prioritising quality,

arrangements in public funding introduced in 2014.

independence, freedom and personal artistic mission

“Slovak Arts Council is a self-governing public

over quantity, profit and commercialisation.

institution guaranteeing support of contemporary art

If HotDock Gallery and Photoport represent a long-term

activities, culture and creative industry, […]. The

of financial support, which however, is not supposed to work in a long-run. Currently, it is not that difficult to write a project proposal, receive funding, start a small art project or initiative, present a few local artists and not be bothered with questions on sustainability, local impact, and future plans. Others claim that it is so far the best systemic and institutional change within the art and culture support and financing, which is

Jorge Peris, ‘Acidus’, site-specific installation, 2017, photo: Adam Šakový Peter Jánošík, ‘PARAFA 20017’, exhibition view, Photoport Gallery, 2017, photo: Filip Vančo View over HotDock Project Space rooftop, 2017, photo: Juraj Rattaj

necessary and vital for any well-functioning and educated society. Whatever the case is, the question of sustainability Council replaced a substantial part of the former grant

remains at the core for artist-run spaces. Apparently,

system of the Ministry of Culture of the Slovak Republic

some of these initiatives are willing to sacrifice their

and is independent of the central bodies of state

sustainability, financial support and comfort for the

administration.”1 This systematic approach to support

sake of freedom, independence and strong attitude. The

cultural and artistic activities has been mostly

only thing that matters is the passion for art, the

welcomed within the art and culture sector, although it

infinite and inexhaustible motivation, and the ongoing

has its perils.

daily struggle within oneself and with the art world.

Formalisation and professionalisation render any artist

Their everyday practice is not subjected to profit,

to be a grant-seeking and degree-holding professional,

commercial goals or the pressure of the market, but

whose financial support often depends on luck,

relies on the artists’ subjective motivations, attitudes,

personal relationships, or bureaucratic manoeuvring

beliefs and needs. Hence, their prioritisation of

and invention. Moreover, the Council is not an ultimate

independence, freedom and attitude over profit not only

guarantee of a sustainable funding, as the case of

shapes their everyday existence but also positions them

Photoport illustrates. Vančo claims that the commit-

as an opposition and counter-force to the elitist,

tee’s decision to reject funding did not follow profes-

profit-seeking, and commercial artist-world.

sional criteria but it was based on personally motivated reasons. “It seems to me the officials have misunder-

Moreover, this shared uncertainty of the Slovak

stood their role as well as the Council’s role. Instead of

artist-run scene often demonstrates itself in intensive

looking for reasons to support non-state culture, they

and unconventional projects or initiatives, as well as in

have been looking for reasons not to support it,” he

looking for alternative mechanisms of self preservation.

continues, referring to his recent experience.

However, it is questionable whether further state

Despite this, Alexandra Barth and Roman Bicek agree

financial support and institutionalisation would help to

that there is a rise in the number of artist-run galleries.

improve the current situation or harm the artist-run

Although, as Alexandra continues, “there is still certain

scene’s unique way of expressing itself. Actually, it is

disproportion between the exhibition needs of artists

the poor state of public interest and understanding of

and the exhibition opportunities available. I think this

independent art and cultural projects, that demands

is what leads the artists who do not want to bargain to

our attention. ■

take the initiative. Hence, they organise their exhibitions in their own studios, borrow unused spaces, or launch their own artist-run galleries or studios including an exhibition space.” Tha Slovak Arts Council was supposed to bring a coherent system of financial support replacing the previously disarranged and unclear grant scheme of Slovak Ministry of Culture. Some argue that the new institution represents a temporary comfortable bubble 1


“What will be left after you?” A collection of replies to the question “What will be left after you?” from Supermarket 2018 exhibitors & staff members.

– When I go, I will leave behind almost nothing. Pots and pans and hangers and second-hand linen thrown into the garbage with boxes full of stained sketches. A collection of tickets from visits to the cinema, some subway fare from Paris or London or Berlin, and receipts from various events where memories were made. Piles of drawings and paintings stuck together with paint that I was too rushed to let dry before stowing them away. There will be computer files that might never be read and online personas, that my loved ones don’t know about, going quiet – digital avatars and presences just ceasing to exist without an explanation to those in contact with them. – Bad days: Delayed amplitude of my existence that I will never get to see. Good days: Some great memories. Some mediocre art. A couple of kids (?) – Probably around a thousand business cards that never got their chance to be handed over during dull upper-class art-world mingles. Just imagine all the career opportunities missed. – Most likely a migrating consciousness which will enter a new body (another cycle in Samsara), but ideally – no body at all.

– within the boundaries of the canvas as a performative arena, a stage or set where decision making engages the very human need to provide networks of understanding and cognitive associations in the face of one’s own mortality, leaving a legacy which reflects autobiography and the culture of a specific time and a place, within an historical flow of painting. – issn: 14045095 – Ten lonely squirrels, Nine bitcoins, Eight packs of chinese soups, Seven ice cubes, Six senses, Five sentences, Four new yoga poses, Three fingers, Two happy people, One whisper. – A lot of unsellable paintings and an enormous amount of things* that I thought would be useful someday, many of them in a need of repair. *objects/things/stuff/gadgets – My daughter! <3 – Think I’ll pass on this one. I guess a box with binders full of invoices and receipts =) Not so much fun =) – What will be left is the initiative, not the result.

– When I die my paintings are what will remain. They contain my memories, hopes, and dreams. An identity of sorts and the drive towards cognitive meaning, all within the political possibilities in painting. Although they are engaged with ideas of mortality and death, as well as existential states and political action, they do so in a celebratory sense by raging against the negative and dark unknown of these unavoidable ends. Using color and bold compositional structures they go loudly on their way towards that finale. Jarring fields of color, embedded with marks, scrawls, erasures and blockages – Frankensteinian

– There will be things like boxes of postcards (both written to me or just sampled all the years in shops, cafés, at events..), a lot of books (I should make a note which are worth reading!) and some boring stuff I just couldn’t get rid of my whole life (tea cups, stuffed animals, cheap treasure chests without treasures … ). And I want to leave happy memories in the minds of friends and family. It shouldn´t be so difficult to make that happen. – Unfinished thoughts, all with strong potential for greatness.

– One of my small paintings from the series ‘For the Love of Desire’. It is a memento mori ring; I want to depict the immateriality of my work; very small panels on which precious objects are painted, illusions that express my longing for beauty, in a way these paintings are vanitas still-lifes. On the second picture you see the literal answer to the question: what will be left after you? This photo is on the front of one of my books and it’s a image from a grave with the most ancient jewelry ever found. – Haven’t a clue. I live in the present and don’t think in terms of legacy. – Spent resources and serious strains on my immediate and global environment – but also efforts made to reverse the devastating effects of climate change. The dreamer in me would like to define my legacy as part of a game changing generation.

– No matter what you make of this universe and the meaning of life, the facts of nature stare us right in the face. Every living creature follows the same call: “Copy me!” At the end of the day, we’re just animal machines striving to pass on our genes. Yeah, evolution through natural selection can seem like a cold bitch. Yet here we are – its freaky children with brains big enough to figure out not only the origin of our own species and our own universe, but also capable of deliberately rebelling against the tyranny of our Selfish Genes. No matter how many children we have, our genetic signature will dissolve in the human gene pool sooner or later. But the work of our brains, our ideas and whatever we transform our creativity into – it can last forever! Or, you know, until the Suns swells up and burns us all. What will be left after us? Who can tell? But I’m pretty sure it’s going to be memes, not genes. Or maybe I’m reading too much Richard Dawkins lately. Oh well. Time will tell. – Glitter

– Traces of wisdom can be found on the internet. The idea of sharing, networking and knowledge will be lived through during Supermarket and continued further into the future. – Gridlock on the 405 freeway and the smell of stale beer. – If I’m lucky, I’ll be my family’s mysterious artist who still worked analogously and left a lot of paintings. In big competition with my mother who left a lot of paintings to me. Historically, I leave a small contribution to the independent field of contemporary art. I was part of creating a place with low resistance and a lot of creativity. A place unlike any other room for art and that I shared with a lot of others. I think of it as a small leaf dropped into the Grand Canyon and I hope the next generation will hear an echo. – Usually after I leave I am alone for some time and than I am back because I miss you.

– We were all born with an umbilical cord which connected us to our mothers and this cord had been cut simultaneously with our birth. This umbilical cord is physical, psychosomatic and psychological. Humans begin to search the senses of belonging and security on earth where we fall/think along with cutting this cord. This searching sometimes comes into existence in a feeling (or a moment), sometimes in a subject (or a place), and sometimes in another human’s body (or soul). This searching of me comes into existence in a braiding as an object and in Stockholm as a place. I buried my braiding in Stockholm. It connects me to the world. What will be left after me? My soul. My body. My mind. I. – I will be transformed into an eccentrically hairy, ill-natured and ill-shaped animal in my next life, breathing fire and eating sulphur for breakfast, bringing joy to the short ones and sorrow to the tall ones, who stick out way too much.

Anna Katie Zazenski, ‘Machine’ (detail), 2017, Stroboskop Art Space, Warsaw


Ansökningsinfo på hemsidan!

Legacy of Struggle Anna Tomaszewska

In the Supermarket 2008 art catalogue, Aneta Szyłak published a text P for Polish and the Political that began with this relevant sentence: “The Polish art scene is at a point of significant re-grouping: changing strategies and spectacular tactical shifts, it appears to be undergoing another major transformation, comparable to the one at the beginning of the 1990s. Although the turn of the century froze the scene shocked by the events connected with political manoeuvres over public art institutions, it now seems that the movement of art organisations strikes back.” Ten years later, in 2018, the situation in Poland is even more complicated. Once again, artists and cultural workers have to struggle for freedom of expression and access to spaces for critical thinking. Even the relation between independent art

International Solidarity with Culture Makers in Poland’

organisations and contemporary art institutions is

in November 2017. The current tendency is centralisa-

different today, all this in the face of a new political

tion and nationalisation of culture; the number of

power system that does not shy away from acts of

initiatives supported by the state has been limited, in

censorship, withdrawal of subsidies, and support of

favour of right-wing and religious organisations. The

conservative and politically correct artists. That is why

development of the situation is very similar to what has

today writing about the independent art scene in

been happening in Hungary, and the policy of Victor

Poland cannot be done in isolation from contemporary

Orbán is an obvious and explicit point of reference.

art institutions that are increasingly uncertain of their

Heritage and history have become the main objectives

future, which, paradoxically, sometimes brings them

for the group in power, which is evident in the specifics

closer to the independent galleries and other grassroots

of the newly-established and planned museums, as well

initiatives. In the artistic environments, however, once

as in the priorities and manner of distributing subsidies

again return questions about the legitimacy of how the

for institutions and organisations. Nationalism, sexism

institutions function in the present formula. Subject to

and xenophobia find top-down consent, which can be

criticism is the institutions’ exploitative attitude

seen in public statements and social media activities of

towards artists, as well as the state of artists’ working

many key politicians. But the current situation is also

and living conditions and the amount of self-censor-

the effect of many years of negligence of the previous



Since October 2015, the ruling Law and Justice party

People, however, put up resistance. Once again, we are

and its Ministry of Culture and National Heritage in

dealing with a large civic activation, be it in the form of

Poland, directed by Piotr Gli ń ski, have been implement-

street protests or grass-roots initiatives. In the field of

ing a programme of changes in the cultural system

culture, the most active participant has been the

aimed at making culture a tool for propagating patriotic

theater community, which was the first to experience

and conservative values, and thus supporting the

the censorship and dismissal of the people in charge. It

right-wing party policy. “For two years members of the

is worth mentioning here two large civic projects that

ruling party have executed their cultural visions by

took place in Warsaw in 2016 and 2017 – the Citizens

means of the political apparatus – launching new

Culture Congress (with more than 140 working groups

cultural institutions aimed at promoting acceptable

and 3000 participants from the whole country) and the

values, changing directors of institutions directly

Forum for the Future of Culture – that gathered

subordinate to the Ministry of Culture and National

activists, artists, cultural workers, and some politi-

Heritage, dominating the public media, and limiting

cians. Both events took place under the umbrella of the

financial support for cultural non-governmental

Powszechny Theatre that consciously and consistently

organisations who do not share their far-right world-

collaborates with different social movements,

view”, wrote Igor Stokfiszewski in his ‘Appeal for

neighborhood associations and independent culture

‘The Space Program’, Stroboskop Art Space, 29 July 2017, Participants: Roi Alter, Thomas Berra, Paweł Brylski, Centrala, Agata Cieślak, Luca De Angelis, Michał Frydrych, Frederik Gruyaert, Karolina Grzywnowicz, Jae Ho Youn, Olga Micińska, Ruben Montini, Tymon Nogalski, Łukasz Radziszewski, Maciej Ratajski, Agnieszka Szostakiewicz, Stachu Szumski, Julek Tarasiuk, Mikołaj Tkacz, Yael Vishnizki-Levi, Stanisław Welbel, and Daniel Zorzano. Curators: Alex Urso and Styrmir Örn Guðmundsson, photo: Styrmir Örn Guðmundsson

recent changes on the political scene. The debate made everyone realise the necessity of organising further meetings during which decisions will be taken on further actions in relation to the current socio-political situation in Poland.” But there is of course not only one relevant strategy for such difficult times and circumstances. Some artists, curators and activists create informal groups, meeting places, organisations, platforms, and projects, which help them to act and react immediately; others move abroad or deliberately avoid the current political issues. In the case of artist-run spaces, for many, working with this kind of initiatives is already a political statement. Despite the big cuts in the cultural sector (or maybe because of that), there are more and more new initiatives scattered throughout the country, focused on experimenting and acting in various formats, like Potencja in Kraków, Dwie Lewe Ręce and Nie Zastawiać! in Katowice, Stroboskop Art Space, Róż nia and Śmierć człowieka in Warsaw, Wykwit and Miejsce przy Miejscu POMADA, photos: Bartosz Górka ‘Night with Videotapes’, event in frames of POMADA 7 queer festival, 30.09.2017, Warsaw ‘The Heritage’, exhibition in frames of POMADA 7 queer festival, 29.09–01.10.2017 Czesław Miłosz’s Room, Palace of Culture and Science, Warsaw

in Wrocław, Pracownia Portretu in Łód ź, Raczej, makers, alongside its regular politically engaged

Oficyna, Skala and Ł ęctwo in Pozna ń or the nomadic

repertoire. The theatre is financed mainly by the city of

gallery Sandra, which works mostly with female artists.

Warsaw, which is not ruled by the Law and Justice

Among the older initiatives that are still active, it is

party. The city has its own budget for culture activities

worth mentioning Galeria Szara, which in 2016 moved

and can hence still support experimental and critical

from Cieszyn to Katowice, Galeria Wschodnia in Łód ź,

forms of art. A similar situation prevails in some other

Zona Sztuki Aktualnej in Szczecin, f.a.i.t. in Kraków or

cities like Łód ź, Szczecin, Gda ń sk, Katowice, Słupsk or

lokal_30 in Warsaw, although the last two galleries

Wrocław and that is how in recent years contemporary

have evolved in a more commercial direction. All of

art institutions as well as several independent artistic

these places are constantly struggling for survival, and

initiatives have maintained their activities. Both of

they get funds for their activities in very different ways.

these often seek out young artists and are open to new

As state grants are a rarity today, some galleries are

cooperations. The most progressive institutions in the

more often able to obtain support from city budgets.

country cooperate with independent organisations in

Almost half of the places I have mentioned are

different ways; this also includes covering part of the

self-financed, combining various types of activities:

costs, such as artists’ fees. So, the current fight is

sales of works, organisation of paid artistic workshops,

doubled – for the survival of grass-roots organisations

concerts, poetry slams or other events. Crowdfunding

and independent artistic activities, as well as for the

has gained increased popularity, often conducted

preservation of democratic and pluralistic principles of

through the portal – a platform for

public institutions dealing with contemporary culture,

supporting creative people. When asked about their

which are gradually being taken over, transformed and

attitude towards cooperation with institutions and

used as ideological channels.

festivals, most of the initiatives declare themselves open to such possibility. Independent initiatives expect

When analysing the early reactions of the art world to

support in the form of purchase of works, interest in

the changing reality in the country, two projects held in

their programme, assistance in promotion, participa-

2016 seem especially relevant: ‘Making Use: Life in

tion in their events. Recently, a number of new

Postartistic Times’, an exhibition at the Museum of

residency programmes have been launched, including

Modern Art in Warsaw that contributed to the creation

Wschodnia, Raczej, Wykwit, and Pracownia Portretu. A

of Consortium of Post-Artistic Practices (to which I will

new residency programme, in cooperation with the

return later) and an exhibition and debate entitled

Silesian Museum, is also planned to be launched by

‘DE – MO – CRA – CY’ at the Labirynt Gallery in the city

Galeria Szara.

of Lublin, referring directly to the current changes in the country and the very meaning of the term

The issues of relations with institutions, functioning in

democracy. As we can read on the gallery’s website:

conditions of expanding isolationist tendencies in

“What is significant, the meeting was the first of such a

Europe, limited funds for independent activities and

kind among the art community members after the

access to public space, as well as strategies for the

future were also discussed during the ‘Politics of

attention to their social problems. The artists’ protest

Collaboration’ project, organised in May 2016 as part of

organised by the Civic Forum of Contemporary Art

the programme of the European Capital of Culture –

provoked a discussion about its effectiveness and the

Wrocław 2016. The programme covered group

possibilities of organising the artists operating in the

discussions between representatives of the AIM

contemporary system that does not even guarantee

Network, a network of artist-run initiatives, together

access to the health insurance. This discussion keeps

with representatives of independent galleries from

coming back. “Artists and institutions are partners out

various parts of Poland, including local Wrocław

of necessity, not out of love”, wrote Łukasz Musielak in

initiatives. A group of students of the Wrocław

his article Dusk of the Institutions (‘Szum’, 05/01/2018),

Academy of Fine Arts also became involved in the

and both sides, especially in today’s Poland, are well


aware of this.

The question of remuneration and the insurance

In connection with the priorities of the current

system for artists remains problematic and returns

Ministry of Culture, several large art institutions have

frequently in the public and private discussions. The

recently decided to deal with the topics of national

vast majority of independent galleries never pay

identity and Polish cultural heritage in a more or less

salaries to the artists for exhibitions or for participating

(mainly the latter) successful way. One of the reactions

in projects. In the case of cooperation between

to the phenomenon was the programme of the seventh

bottom‑up initiatives and public institutions, this part

edition of the crowdfunded, independent queer festival

of the costs is often (but not always) covered by the

POMADA, organised in Warsaw by artists, curators and

latter. This is not a new situation, but a result of the

other enthusiasts of non-heteronormative currents in

negligence of previous ruling governments, which

culture. The programme included an exhibition

consistently ignored the real problems not only of

’Heritage’, concerts, performances, film screenings and

artists, but also of other working groups. On May 24,

other events. The organisers decided to ask the

2012, the first artist strike took place in Poland. This

following questions: ”Does Poland have any queer

day was proclaimed the Day Without Art. Closing the

heritage and if so, what is it? Who are our queer

galleries and museums in a gesture of solidarity with

ancestors? Can history help us create a different

the cultural workers was aimed at drawing public

future?” But when asked about what issues and ways of


acting seem most important in the current socio-political situation in Poland, artists associated with Wykwit 1  AIM Network was established in 2010 as a network comprising independent organisations from eleven European countries in order to create a common forum and scene for meetings and exhibitions. The summary of the meeting in Wrocław can be found in the publication issued in 2017, ‘The AIM Network. Artists’ Initiatives Meetings’, edited by Andreas Ribbung, Anna Tomaszewska and Alice Máselníková (available for free download at:

in Wrocław responded: ”Actions that let you forget about the current socio-political situation in the country and those that offer a sense of solidarity”. Representatives of many other independent galleries answered in a similar way, that is that the current political situation affects each of them individually as Polish citizens, but that it is not really reflected in their group activities. Many artists, and a large part of the society, moved on to demonstrations against the increased surveillance of citizens and control of institutions and public media, as well as opposing the attempts to exacerbate the anti-abortion law, paralysing the Constitutional Tribunal, or logging of the Unesco-listed ancient forest, Białowieża. Taking part in protests, getting out of galleries and art academies, acting in public spaces and at the peripheries, getting closer to the viewer, and reaching out to other than the usual groups of recipients was characteristic of the last two years in Poland, and similar to the difficult political atmosphere of the 80s. It contributed to the creation of new artists’ groups, ephemeral projects or other interdisciplinary bottomup organisations related to informal education. These are the initiatives that respond most quickly to further changes in the country and its undemocratic political decisions.

An abstract painting banner entitled ‘Dodawacz otuchy’ (‘Comforter’) created by Katarzyna Kalinowska for a demonstration in defence of free courts in Warsaw, December 2017, photos: Katarzyna Kalinowska

1, 2: The Crazy Gallery, photos: Jakub de Barbaro 1st Convention of the Consortium for Post-Artistic Practices in the Labirynt Gallery in Lublin, 2017, photo: courtesy of Consortium for Post-Artistic Practices

In the summer of 2016, Szalona Galeria (The Crazy

cultural center visited small towns and villages in

Gallery), a project created by Jakub de Barbaro,

various regions of Poland. Many artists, designers, theo-

Agnieszka Polska and Janek Simon, began in Poland as a

reticians and filmmakers have been invited to

direct response of artists to changes in the country.

cooperate. The gallery, built of several converted

”Current government wants to turn culture into a tool

trucks, organised amongst other things an open-air

for the production of obedience, with no room for

cinema, a bookshop, contemporary art exhibitions,

criticism or the artist’s own opinion. It worries us so

lectures and concerts. The artists, however, did not

much, that’s why we decided to act!” read the descrip-

focus on the presentation of critical works. The

tion of the project on the previously mentioned

democratic dimension of art, accessibility to culture,

platform For two months, the nomadic

creativity, abstraction, absurdity and art’s capability of being an alternative to everyday life had become essential to them. In the center stood the understanding of the political potential of art as a way of showing how things can be done differently. The organisers tried to choose works that would be likely to break some of the stereotypes about contemporary art, likely to be held by the audience. An example here is Sebastian Buczek, who records music on gramophone records made of beeswax, produced in his own bee hives. The Crazy Gallery was crowdfunded, partly financed by the artists themselves and supported by many local institutions. Documentation of the project, selected objects, installations and scenography were later presented at the final exhibition in the Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw. Public activities and transcending the gallery context are also the domain of the Consortium for Post-Artistic


Practices, initiated by Sebastian Cichocki and Kuba Szreder, curators of the above-mentioned exhibition ‘Making Use: Life in Postartistic Times’. The idea of the consortium was presented during the Culture Congress, in a panel discussion dedicated to the involvement of artists in political and social matters. It is an interdisciplinary and informal alliance of art people operating under the slogans: ‘We are realists, we demand the impossible!’ and ‘Imagination is our weapon!’ The composition of the consortium is not permanent and its members are involved in the current, most pressing social and political issues, such as the migration crisis, defence of free courts, fights in defence of women’s rights, the fight for workers’ rights, anti-fascist coalitions etc. Their patron Jerzy Ludwi ń ski, wrote in 1971: “It is very likely that today we are no longer dealing with art. We have simply missed the moment when it transformed into something completely different, something we can no longer label. However, it is certain that what we do today has more capacity and possibilities.” The consortium now effectively mobilises and incorporates students of the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, who have previously only passively observed the situation in the country. Furthermore, it consolidates and supports individual artistic actions. The group of students affiliated with the consortium also engages in the establishment of the position of a spokesperson for gender equality at the Academy. Members of the consortium additionally cooperate with

institutions involved in the political debate in the

designers and illustrators, centered around such

country, like Powszechny Theatre (Forum for the Future

initiatives as ‘Graphical Emergency’ and ‘Illustrated

of Culture) or Galeria Labirynt (1st Convention of the

Democracy’, who in the last two years designed and

Consortium, which included team games, reconstruct­

provided free-to-use graphic design projects subse-

ions of art works, conceptual gymnastics, acoustic and gastronomic activities, and presentations of proposals for actions). Inspired by the slogan ‘Imagination is our weapon!’ for a demonstration in defence of free courts in December 2017 Katarzyna Kalinowska prepared an abstract painting banner entitled ‘Dodawacz otuchy’ (‘Comforter’) – an experiment that was intended to encourage further struggle and give hope, which is easy to lose when unconstitutional laws are introduced despite a strong public opposition. Kalinowska is now working on an improved version, which, as she says, will better cope with the windy weather and comfort more protesters. Another example of an action organised by people from the Consortium of Post-Artistic Practices during the last demonstrations in defence of the courts was the reenactment of a significant performance from 1980 by Akademia Ruchu (Movement Academy). A group of young people carried a long banner with the inscription ‘Justice is the mainstay of strength and durability of the Republic of Poland’. It

quently used in street demonstrations. It is significant

was perceived as a very powerful gesture that gave the

that in the difficult historical moments of the country a

opportunity to build an intergenerational bridge. The

strong graphic design has been created, for example

consortium sometimes also cooperates with graphic

posters in the 80s. The symbol of the recent protests would certainly be the poster ‘KonsTYtucJA’ (‘Constitution’) by Luka Rayski. On the wave of manifestations for human and citizen rights, and in the context of cultural regression, in March 2017 a performative and protesting artistic group called ŻUBRZYCE MÓWIMY NIE (‘BISON LADIES WE SAY NO’) was established. The composition of the group is not permanent and remains always anonymous. The strategies of their operation can be compared to the Guerilla Girls group founded in 1985 in New York. Like them, ŻUBRZYCE wear masks during their actions, but they are bison heads, instead of gorilla heads together with brown capes. One of the participants of the group explained to me that for them ż ubrzyca, the bison cow, is a symbol of strength and

survival. In Poland, bison is also considered to be a symbolic animal, almost archaic, and in a sense representing the power that has survived in the country. “We do not want the gentrification of our rebellion – we remain anonymous and leave a fresh field for subsequent actions on subsequent protests. Masks give an image of power, strength, fearlessness, and in this way, they are – paradoxically – protection against sexism. We intend to cooperate with all who want equality, respect for dignity, respect for individual rights, the right to equality”, say the members of the group in an interview with Adam Mazur in ‘Szum’ magazine (22/12/2017). The collective strongly opposes all forms of oppression, misogyny, sexism, domestic

Reconstruction of the happening ‘Justice is a mainstay’ (1980) of the Movement Academy during the July 2017 protests in Warsaw in defence of independent courts, photo: courtesy of Consortium for Post-Artistic Practices

Poster ‘KonsTytucJA’ (‘Constitution’) by Luka Rayski, photos: Radek Wojnar

Jakub de Barbaro, project from the ‘3xveto’ website with graphics for free use during the July 2017 protests in defence of independent courts Gregor Różański, project from the ‘3xveto’ website

institutions are most often open for critical and experimental practices and use different tools to reach wider audiences. They also deal with issues related to the local context, sometimes in close collaboration with the bottom-up initiatives. One of the latest noteworthy approaches was the 5th Biennale of Urban Art – OUT OF STH – ‘Occupation’, organised by the BWA Gallery in Wrocław in collaboration with different local independent organisations (among others Wykwit), artistic groups and activists, with the objective to reverse the

Dwie Lewe Rę ce f.a.i.t. Galeria Szara Galeria Wschodnia Ł ę ctwo ŻUBRZYCE MOWIMY NIE (‘BISON LADIES WE SAY NO’), photos: courtesy of ŻUBRZYCE Protest in front of MOMA, New York, May 2017 Protest in front of CSW Zamek Ujazdowski in Warsaw, May 2017

violence, patriarchy and the lack of equality. ŻUBRZYCE is a very interesting phenomenon, also in the context of the #MeToo campaign, which the Polish art world practically omitted. So far, they have organised sixteen performative actions. The group criticises phenomena such as the domination of men in the academic staff of Polish art schools, sexism among university lecturers, outdated models of art education in Poland, including lifelong employment contracts, and the dominance of works by male artists in museum and gallery collections. They also express their disappointment with the artists’ employment conditions and the institutional rules for accepting artistic works in their collections. Ż UBRZYCE are strongly in favour of more transparency

in institutions, and of the admission of artists as institutional managers. In order to better understand the specificity of the contemporary artistic environment in Poland, one has to remember that during the last ten years many art institutions in the country have been reconstructed and some were established from scratch. A number of them, both in large and small cities, have been able to build good relations with artists and appreciate their trust. In those places one can find people who were previously working from the bottom-up or are still active in both sectors. A recent example is the New Museum of Art, NOMUS, lead by Aneta Szyłak.2 These 2  Szyłak is also founder and artistic director of Alternativa International Visual Arts Festival and co-founder and director of Wyspa Institute of Art (2004–2014) – the intellectual, independent environment for contemporary visual culture in the former Gdańsk Shipyard premises in Poland.

lokal_30 Miejsce przy Miejscu Nie Zastawia ć! Oficyna POMADA Potencja Pracownia Portretu Raczej Róż nia SANDRA Skala Śmierć człowieka

Stroboskop Art Space WYKWIT Zona Sztuki Aktualnej

relationship between the institution and the “extra‑institution sector”.3 These kinds of projects and collaborations additionally contribute to the further discussions and redefinitions of the models of the art institutions in Poland. One thing is certain – because of the difficult political situation in the country the art audience is now more sensitive and actively observes all the adjustments within the institutional sector. The dynamics of the changes in other countries, for example in Hungary, or in other cultural sectors in Poland, show that the structural changes within institutions can take place at any time, so it is still very important not to be completely dependent on the bigger actors. At the same time, examples of different models and formats of the artistic activities previously mentioned in this text show that in critical situations it is only informal groups that are able to self-organise and immediately respond to changes, but also that running an independent organisation does not automatically mean increased involvement in issues related to the current problems or crises in the country. According to Chantal Mouffe, real democracy must at all times be under revision and discussion, and can

WYKWIT ‘Layers’ project and the team of the BWA Gallery in Wrocław; in frames of the 5th Biennale of Urban Art – OUT OF STH (project: UWAGA! WYKWIT WARSTWY BWA). Guided tour of the private areas of WYKWIT with the commentary of the curators from the BWA Gallery (on the photo: Joanna Stembalska and guests) Promotional board of the competition in which the ‘DIY WYKWIT’ set was a prize; in frames of the 5th Biennale of Urban Art – OUT OF STH, graphics: K.Włodek

never be completed because of the different power relations present in society. The Polish example appears to confirm the validity of this statement. The EU membership and the transformation of a former socialist state under Soviet dominion into a democratic market economy seemed to immunise the country against any form of return of a totalitarian regime. The rationalism of the liberal-democratic political system made it appear as the only possible order. But not only did many Poles feel left out from the transformation, there were also political powers present to exploit their disappointment. The Law and Justice party won the elections largely due to social promises, but is also successfully using tools such as nationalism, xenophobia and historical injustices in order to mobilise its core supporters and keep society in a continuous state of conflict. How will the art world react to that in the future? I guess that the horizontal self-organised initiatives will continue to exist, most probably in an even bigger variety of formats and intersectional hybrids, in dialogue with or against the institutions. ■

3  Term used by the curators of the Biennale in the descriptions of the project that took place in Wrocław during 19 May–23 July 2017.


Gideon Smilansky: Alliance of the Artist-Runs

Artists-Run Alliance website Gideon Smilansky, self portrait in the studio Alfred Institute, 2015, photo: Adi Levy

Legacy is based on a false assumption of a wondrous and extraordinary past. Visionaries of days of old are perceived as mythical figures who shape our history, and set a bar to which we aspire. It is as though the past experiences consisting of pain, hardship, distress, misfortune, doubt, misery and failure are, at best, reduced to a romanticised narrative. Thus, legacy is the collection of failures resulting from the attempt to realise a vision.

Can you explain what the Artists-Run Alliance is and what the main ideas of the project are? – The Artists-Run Alliance is an online platform intent on connecting and serving artist-run initiatives, artist cooperatives, and independent galleries and art spaces located anywhere in the world. Essentially it revolves around the idea of having a go-to space, in which any or all of the previously mentioned art initiatives, who are independent of the commercial art world, wish to collaborate and exchange knowledge and ideas with others of a like mind.

The word vision, whether referring to an idea of a desired future, a prophecy or as a synonym for dream,


consists of a horizon of possibilities. The Artists-Run Alliance is a very recently launched artist-run online platform

How does this work in practice? – The platform should function as a kind of indie-art dynamic database. All artist-run initiatives (ARIs) have their names placed on an easy-access visual map,

directed from Tel Aviv, Israel. Supermar-

which is the first thing that a visitor will

ket approached Gideon Smilansky, one of

see when entering the website.

the people behind the project, with some questions about the platform, its ideas and aims, and also the future vision that the team holds for its development. Aside from answering our questions, Gideon also

Each member is allocated a profile that allows them to tell their story, write information about who they are, how they came into existence and what sort of art they

contributed in a short text, written by members of the

create; basically to share whatever information and

Alfred Institute, on the undercurrent legacy theme of

pictures they think are interesting or helpful. They are

Supermarket 2018.

invited to inform the art world and general public of current exhibitions and events that are or will be

Thank you for this poetic legacy-introduction. Can

taking place, and to highlight professional activities

you tell our readers a little about yourself and

such as open calls, residencies, gallery talks or new

introduce your recently launched project? – My name


is Gideon Smilansky. For the past fifteen years I have been active as an artist in Israel and as a member of

Where did the original idea for the platform come

the Alfred Cooperative Institute for Art and Culture

from? – I think the idea evolved out of my own

since its founding in 2005. The Alfred Institute recently

personal experience as an artist, and from a collective

launched an online platform called the Artists-Run

experience of running the Alfred Co-operative as a

Alliance. I would like to stress that the project is very

group of actively engaged artists. When I first began

much an Alfred Institute group effort, although I am its director. The opening passage of this text is also written by members of the

working as an artist, I found the art world to be very elitist and involving things like networking and other commercial aspects that made me feel uncomfortable.

Alfred team, Lior Shur and Dvir

I joined Alfred because I was interested in the sense of


community that comes from working within a collective group. As an artist, my career was built

around the philosophical and ideological notions that

How can people sign up? Is it free? – Basically, an art

are part of the spirit of ARIs and art co-operatives – the

space simply registers their profile on the online

sense of collaboration and building on something,

platform. All instructions are given in the FAQ section.

being part of a broader dialogue connected to the world at large.

And yes, all members can and will always be able to register and maintain their profile for free.

Can you tell us more about the Alfred

Is the platform attracting artist-run

Institute and what you have learned

initiatives? How many members do you

as a co-operative that can contribute

have at the moment? – The feedback has

to the ARA platform? – I think our

been very positive. Right now we have over

experience, gained as a collective working together over a long period of time, will contribute to the platform in all

1000 ARIs located on our platform map, with over 100 members sharing information on their profiles. We have ARIs based in countries from

sorts of ways, but mainly through communicating the

as far afield as Japan, Australia, North and South

knowledge we have learned and passed on to other

America, the Middle East, and from all over Europe. So


yes, we are very happy with the initial response.

To elaborate on this I would like to say that when we

We all know that online maps often become

first started working together at Alfred, we were based

inaccurate after a couple of years. What are

in a small thirty-meter space. We then moved to a

your plans to keep it updated? – As in

larger, more established gallery and now the institute

other user-generated content platforms, the

occupies a three storey building that holds a gallery at

quality of data lies in the synergy between

its heart, as well as studios for resident artists, and we

the user side and the platform side. It is

host lectures and workshops on a regular basis.

technologically very easy to see and assess if an

This growth indeed incorporated a learning process

ARI’s profile in the online database has not been

and required each of us to assume responsibility on

accessed for some time. In such cases we will initiate a

every step of the journey. Over time we have had to

dialogue with the artist initiative and ask them to

learn a number of practicalities, such as funding issues,

update it, enquire how to proceed or alternatively

the knowledge of how to manage a permanent venue,

delete it, if there is no response.

decision-making and delegation of responsibility to all

Being an artist-run cooperative initiative ourselves, we

members on a fair basis, all of this while maintaining

know that maintaining dialogue with the ARIs and

our independence.

users of the platform is what will keep this synergy

The Alfred’s evolution from gallery space/co-operative

lively, and alive.

‘Flight Suit’, group exhibition opening, 2017, photo: Dfna Gazit

engagement with many artists, both local and

Do you have plans in the future for the platform? – We

Untitled, Alfred Institute, 2017, photo: Dfna Gazit

international, and has led to us serving as an example

see this as a forward-thinking project that will have

for other co-operatives in Israel.

a positive impact on the broader art world. When

Similarly, we intend to share our knowledge on the

people look at the platform in two or three years, it

platform and provide support to newly established ARIs

should present a good overall picture of what is

who want to grow and survive in what can be a tough

happening in the independent international artist-run

and competitive field.


Do you think there is a need for a platform such as

This is the first step in our larger vision and it points to

the Artist-Run Alliance and, since I presume you will

the core of what we are all about. That is, groups of

answer positively, then why? – I do think there is a

artists and curators working together in a pro-active

need, mainly because there are thousands of artist-run

manner, helping each other to provide for our specific

spaces and so much activity that it becomes very hard

artistic needs, and importantly, informing young art

to know what is happening on a global level. Our

students of the alternatives outside of the commercial

platform will connect what is currently an unmapped

art world. And here I would like to emphasise the word

and very fragmentary field.

“alliance”, as it is the keyword for the nature of our

to the Alfred Institute has produced a consistent

work as well as its continuation and development. Even on a practical level it can be difficult to find out the most basic information about artist-run spaces.

I would like to add here at the end my thanks to

Our platform will enable any independent art initiative

Graham Lawson, who really helped in transforming my

to provide the necessary information both for artists

thinking process into the words in this interview. And

and the art-going public, and all of that information

of course, thank you for the relevant questions about

will be located in one place.

the Artist Run Alliance. ■


Exhibition opening, 2017, photo: Dfna Gazit

The Meming of Harambe: The Legacy of a Former Ward of Cincinnati Zoo Gerald Heffernan This short essay is written in remembrance of Harambe the gorilla who was shot dead on May 28th 2016 at Cincinnati Zoo, Ohio, USA. His legend lives on forever in our hearts.

Due to the ubiquity of authorship within image macros shared online, it is practically impossible to locate the original creator. Most commonly when a meme is shared the poster will declare OC or not OC, where ‘OC’ stands for original content. The same case applies to the images of Harambe the gorilla.

Next month will mark the second anniversary of the

force. Was Harambe unnecessarily killed, was the child

death of Harambe, the seventeen year old western

really in danger, or was the gorilla even acting

lowlands silverback gorilla, who found internet fame

protectively? Onlookers’ opinions differed greatly and

following his untimely demise at the Cincinnati Zoo.

the debate soon became polarised with many pro-

Harambe was shot and killed by zookeepers after

pounding that the mother should have faced the

a three year old child fell into the gorilla enclosure. The

consequences of letting her son breach the enclosure,

incident sparked major public criticism concerning zoo

and that the gorilla’s life was in fact more important

policy and the supposed negligence of the child’s

than the safety of the child. On the other side of the

mother. This outrage launched the #Justice4Harambe

argument was a vast wave of memes, being produced

hashtag, which began trending on Twitter along with

primarily by ‘Black Twitter’, which problematised the

other public actions such as a candlelight vigil at the

simple rhetoric of animal rights and safety.1 The fact

Cincinnati Zoo and other zoos across the United States.

that the mother and child in question were both

Within two days of the incident, memes started

African American prompted outspoken voices within

proliferating on Twitter, encompassing a spectrum of

‘Black Twitter’ to make parallels between the media

complicated and layered responses to the shooting

response to the death of Harambe, and the ongoing

of Harambe.

struggle that African Americans face in the United States.

Debate ensued online, weighing the value of the life of Harambe and the life of the child. From the zookeepers’

The sparse coverage of police brutality towards

point of view, they were concerned that tranquilisers

minorities within mainstream American news stood

would not take immediate effect, and therefore opted to

in stark contrast to their gratuitous attention to

protect the child from potential harm and used lethal

the death of Harambe. This fascination continued on 1  Black Twitter is a social network identity focusing on sociopolitical issues of the Afro-American community.

the internet with image macros of Harambe emerging in various forms, anthropomorphising him and mourning him as a dead celebrity or cultural icon. The nascent memes initially participated in a form of sincere mourning for the fallen gorilla, however, new iterations quickly enacted a more ironic approach which parodied this type of exaggerated internet grief. This further developed into a strain of memes which posited the Harambe incident itself as a proxy for police brutality, racial bias in the media, and even going so far as to present Harambe as a Christ figure. This post-ironic approach deviated far enough from the


source event that it could, if only for a moment, abstractly address how society often overlooks ordinary

amount of racist memes made with Harambe, and

people of colour. The constructed myth of Harambe

the idea that it promotes black sub-personhood

acted as a kind of humorous accelerationist tactic

through the ironic memorial of a dead gorilla. However,

which re-purposed its own trivialisation as a means to

part of this meme’s lasting legacy is that it was, at least

generate radical social change.

for a moment, able to highlight and subvert systemic racism and racist stereotypes through the very use

Just when people thought that the Harambe meme had

of these tropes. Harambe may have partially fallen

finally died, a new meta with a new hashtag revived it

victim to the overtly polarised politics within the

for months to come. After #Justice4Harambe and

United States and has been to some extent co-opted by

#RIPHarambe, there came #DicksOutForHarambe. The

the right-wing; similar to Pepe the Frog which is now a

direct origin of this new turn is debated, but it was

mascot for the alt-right movement. Nevertheless, the

popularised by comedian Brandon Wardell when he

name Harambe is in truth the Swahili word for

uploaded a video on Vine featuring actor Danny Trejo

‘togetherness’, which seems a fittingly ironic moniker

repeating the phrase. Its meaning has multivarious

for him and his journey. ■

interpretations; it functioned as a ridiculous juvenile joke, where the concept of exposing yourself in honour of a dead gorilla was in itself funny, and also a means for the meme to be deemed too edgy for internet savvy brands to adopt into their viral marketing; in meme culture going mainstream often entails sacrificing the original cultural payload. On yet another level, ‘dicks out’ is a phrase popularised by genderfluid rapper Young Thug, as a play on rap slang where ‘dicks’ means ‘guns’. This contextualisation within rap culture further connects Harambe to ideas of disdain and suspicion towards the American police. The question of whether Harambe memes are in themselves racist will remain, due to the undeniable

Notes on Konstepidemin, January 2018 Mikael Lรถfgren

The artist-run studio association Konstepidemin is

proprietary rights. These city areas constituted a fertile

centrally located but slightly off the beaten track above

soil for the alternative culture that grew strong from

Linnéplatsen, on the west side of Gothenburg.

the late 1960s to the early 80s. This gave rise to a

Surrounding it are residential areas and the university’s

myriad of alternative cultural initiatives: Hagahuset,

institutions of psychology, forensic medicine, and

Sprängkullen, Hagabion, Pustervik, periodicals such as

global studies. The Sahlgrenska University Hospital is

Musikens Makt, Havsverk, and Mareld. Artist Robert

just around the corner, as is the impressive Annedal

Jonsvik, educated at Slöjdföreningen (The Society of

Church. It is clear that several of the fifteen buildings in

Crafts and Design) and at the Valand Academy of Art,

the Konstepidemin complex are over a century old.

was involved in several of these projects. But above all

Despite continuous repairs, they are in poor condition,

Jonsvik was an entrepreneur – a visionary who was able

and if nothing is done within the near future their fate

to realise his dreams.3 In the early 1980s, he was

will be sealed. According to the Property Management

involved in taking stock of the need for public art at

Department, there are no immediate plans to renovate.

Linnégatan together with his artist colleague Jens

In fact, there don’t seem to be any plans whatsoever.

Mattiasson and the architects Sten Henriksson and

Unofficially, rumor has it that the department would

Bengt Lidström. During a break they discovered the old

rather get rid of the buildings altogether, and Higab

epidemic hospital and, according to legend, said to each

– the municipal office responsible for cultural

other “this will be the Louisiana of Gothenburg.”4,5 A

properties – has no interest in taking over. It would cost

year after the discovery of the former hospital one of

far too much, both financially and in other ways. And

the buildings was accessed to house a task force that

artists are not exactly the type of tenants that

immediately set to work investigating the necessary

municipal offices dream of.

preconditions for an artist-run exhibition space.

The buildings have long since drowsily settled into their

Two years later, the analysis was complete: “Let art

verdant surroundings. When they were first built,

contaminate society!” read the subheading in the

enthusiastic journalists wrote rave reviews of the

‘Analysis on the Prospects of Konstepidemin, Gothen-

dazzling panorama over the park Slottsskogen.1 Back in

burg’ presented in May 1985.6 The motto – as well as the

the mid 1880s there were only barren rocky hills

name Konstepidemin itself – is a witty play on words so

surrounding the epidemic hospital. Now the trees have

typical of the Gothenburg spirit, but not only that. The

grown tall, embedding Konstepidemin in a benevolent

analysis clearly stated Konstepidemin’s aims:

blanket of greenery. But all is not what it seems. Inside the studios work progresses at full throttle. I pay a visit to the ceramist Eva Zethraeus in her basement studio where she is having a morning coffee break with Anna Bauer whose studio lies in an adjacent building. In an attic space, the musician and producer, Henrik

- to strive for a new attitude towards art and the artist as an integrated part of cultural life and society. - to act as a meeting place between art and society and artists and citizens.

Cederblom, has furnished a fully equipped music

- to provide artists with workspaces.

studio where a recording session is taking place. In a

- to create opportunities for artists of different

workshop in the old mortuary the sculptor Per


Petersson is assisting the painter Martin Solymar in

- to work together on projects on a long term basis.

completing a public commission. In one of the guest

- to initiate Nordic and International collaboration

studios I meet the Dutch dancer and movement researcher Patricia Vane, who considers Konstepidemin

between artists. - to promote Gothenburg as a cultural city.7

to be a unique place. The transformation of the old hospital to a workplace for artists was part of the larger city transformation of Gothenburg.2 During the 1960s, 70s and 80s, extensive areas of the city were either torn down or renovated. During the period that followed, artists, students, and others who prioritised low rent and central location before high standard could acquire so-called demolition contracts, in other words rental contracts without

1  Tomas Rubin, ‘Från kolera till konst – en smittosam historia’ (From Cholera to Art – A contagious history), 2  See for example Håkan Thörn, ‘Proletärer, proggare och punkare. Folkhemmet, Haga och de sociala rörelserna’ in Göteborg utforskat: Studier av en stad i förändring, (Eds.) Helena Holgersson, Catharina Thörn, Håkan Thörn & Mattias Wahlström, Glänta produktion, Hässleholm 2010.

3  Folke Edwards in Dagens Nyheter 981218. 4  Konstepidemin, ‘The Book’, (Ed.) Berit Jonsvik, Gothenburg 2013, p. 182. 5  The situation was dire to say the least. The Maneten Art Association, where they were members, had together with the prog rock band Nationalteatern and the BK Häcken football club run the classical pub, Pustervik, with varying success since 1978. They had now gone bankrupt and lost control of the restaurant commonly known as Rôva (Butthole), a watering hole, meeting place and exhibition space for the town’s artists. The veteran waitress, Gerda, tells the following vibrant anecdote: Rôva once had a doorman who was nicknamed the Hemorrhoid, “since he was always blocking the entrance”. http:// 6  As cited in Konstepidemin, ‘The Book’, p. 198. 7  Ibid., p. 200.

‘Allas Atelje’ (‘Studio for all’) creating side by side all ages together, photo: Sofia Åhrman

Considering the initiators’ collective experience of local

not work. The assignment demanded someone with

politics the last point in the manifesto could easily be

experience in leading such an operation, and they

interpreted as containing a huge dose of irony but that

considered me to be such a person.”9 Sören Eriksson

would be a slight misinterpretation – an entrepreneuri-

emphasises the decisive effort put in by the municipal-

al double irony would be a more apt characterisation.

ity’s Cultural Affairs Director at the time, Svenning

The visionary authors wanted to offer those in power a

Leander: “The question is whether Konstepidemin

chance to redeem themselves, allowing the cultural

would even have come into being without him. He was

dusk to finally be followed by a dawn, and at the same

a modest and competent public official. He managed to

time create space for themselves and their profession.

push through an impressive list of demands and

From our present day perspective, it would seem

According to Eriksson it is all about trust if one is to

unlikely that the advances towards the politicians

bridge the gap between politicians and artists. He tells

made any headway but they did. Early on the then

“the wonderful story” of when the Labour Minister,

Culture Minister Bengt Göransson offered his support

County Labor Director and Governor came for a visit:

to the project and held a speech at the inauguration on

“They arrived in a limousine, and we treated them to

28th of March 1987. His successors, Birgit Friggebo,

mineral water and presented binders full of mainte-

Margot Wallström, and Marita Ulvskog, also visited

nance plans. These were no fake plans, but well-found-

Konstepidemin during the 90s, thereby offering the

ed ones. We knew exactly what we would do if we were

initiative both support and legitimacy. Even the

granted the money. The Minister of Labor said, “these

Commissioner of Culture and Environment in

people deserve the money”, and they left hastily in their

Stockholm, Anna Lindh, made an appearance at

car.”11 Labor ministers no longer visit Konstepidemin.

Konstepidemin during the election campaign of 1994.8

Neither do culture ministers. Is this because a cultural

Perhaps the closing 1980s and early 90s offered a golden

dusk has once again descended over Gothenburg, or

opportunity for both culturally interested politicians as

does it have more to do with the politicians of today

well as entrepreneurial cultural workers to bury the

being worried about accusations of gender bias,

hatchet? When the artists abstained from politics and

conflicts of interest or corruption?

enjoyed the trust of both politicians and artists alike.”10

instead focused on art, politicians did not hesitate to accept the outstretched hand.


With the aid of the term ‘path dependency’, the art historian Jeff Werner describes the local discourse regarding art and artists that was predominant in the circles from which Konstepidemin emerged: “Directions that at one time promoted accessibility can at another prevent a change in direction (or switching, to use the original terminology).”12 He outlines a number of stations along this path: - Gothenburg is a city of Mammon, fundamentally uninterested in culture. Artists face an uphill struggle. The press are uninterested in art. So is the public. Anti-intellectualism has always dominated there. - In Stockholm, being an artist verges on the intrepid. In Gothenburg, on the contrary, it is suspect. - A real artist knows his stuff. Masters his techniques. Explores his full possibilities. Does not throw in the towel. Never chooses the easy way out of an artistic problem. - A true artist does not intellectualise his art. Art is wordless communication in which vision is all. The

Mikaela Peterson, ‘Has anyone asked for me?’, outdoor artwork, photo: Bibbi Forsman

amount of hot air is a direct inverse of artistic A few of them did, at any rate. Sören Eriksson (Social Democrat), Konstepidemin’s first chairman of the board, played a key role and remained in post for

quality. The chattering classes – the critics and art historians – do not understand what art is. - Quantity is the inverse of quality. A real artist shows

seventeen years. In an interview with Berit Jonsvik he

discrimination in his range, and rejects all of his

recalls: “At first, the artists felt that they themselves

production that does not come up to scratch.

should run Konstepidemin. But Bengt (Lidström) and Sten (Henriksson) convinced the others that it would 8  Ibid., p. 230.

9  Ibid., p. 208. 10  Ibid., p. 208. 11  Ibid., p. 211. 12, p. 99.

- Art and nature are closely related to one another.

over sixty), although it has decreased in recent years.

Nature (landscape, but also man), not culture (the

Each member must be involved in at least one of the

city), is the most important source of artistic

groups responsible for repairs and public events.

inspiration. - The shimmering quality of the light, the reflections

Konstepidemin has five guest studios that are reserved

from the water, the mist and so on all leave their

for International artists in residence. A collaboration

mark on Gothenburg painting.

exists with IASPIS (International Programme for Visual

- In Gothenburg there is a disinclination to jump on the latest bandwagon. Being in step with the present

and Applied Artists) and Konstepidemin is a member of Res Artis and Trans Europe Halles. Applications are

demands a greater attention to the way the wind is blowing than to the deeper currents. - It is Stockholm’s fault that Gothenburg is not as successful as it ought to be: it is there the resources are; it is there the contacts are made. If you are going to be nationally successful, you have to move to the capital. And sell out.13 In Gothenburg one was predominantly a painter rather than an artist – and a male one at that. Painters paint paintings, artists make art. It was typical that the Valand ‘School of Painting’ was situated in Gothenburg, while Stockholm had its Royal Academy of Art. It is no coincidence that when Gothenburg’s Artist Club established a periodical in 1939 it was named Paletten (The Palette), while its Stockholm competitor was called Konstrevy (Art Revue). When the Stockholmer Leif Nylén became the editor of Paletten, he attempted a name change because he “thought it was so ridiculous, so strongly associated with the traditional artist’s role, like berets and palettes.”14 Folke Edwards, also from Stockholm, noted that one could see a connection between the supposed lack of culture in Gothenburg

accepted all year round and the guest studios are

and the romantic idea of the artist so prevalent there:

rented out on a one to six month basis.17 Residens

“In a culture-deprived environment, the one who

Angered is a collaborative endeavor between Konstepi-

chooses art is not only an odd, but also a pretentious

demin, Konsthallen Blå Stället and Kultur i Väst, within

figure. Here only the genius has the right to be an

which guest artists conduct art projects together with


the inhabitants of the suburb of Angered.18 Konstepidemin together with Kultur i Väst has also established

Konstepidemin today is first and foremost a workplace.

a residency programme for refugee artists. Over the

‘The Epidemics’ or ‘Ateljeers’, as the members call

course of three months, a professional refugee artist is

themselves, represent all forms of art and culture and

granted a workspace and the opportunity to meet other

the diversity offers numerous collaborative opportuni-

artists and gallery directors. A cottage in the area has

ties.16 When it comes to acquiring a studio at Konstepi-

been assigned to Gothenburg’s sanctuary writers,

demin a queue system applies with the precondition

provided that the threat scenario does not demand

that the applicant must have well-documented

other arrangements.19

professional experience and aim to use the premises as

The range of public events is extensive: exhibitions in

his/her main place of work. With regard to the

several galleries of works by both the members and

allotment of the studios, age, gender and art form is

external artists; open house, where visitors can visit

taken into consideration. Ethnically, Konstepidemin is homogeneously white. And because of the demand – due to the low rent, the central location, the context etc – few tend to give up their studios as long as they are able to work. As a consequence the average age is high (in 2014, 72% of the members were over fifty, and 38% 13  Ibid., pp. 89, 91. 14  Ibid., p. 95, as cited by Werner. 15  Ibid., p. 101, as cited by Werner. 16  Currently 132 professional artists work in the fifteen buildings on the 36 491 square meter plot at Annedal 717:5.

17  Guest artists live and work in their studio which includes a workspace, bedroom, shower and kitchen (wireless internet is included in the rent). A state of the art print workshop and dark room can be found on the complex, and a computer, xerox machine and bicycle are also accessible. 18  Kultur i Väst (Culture in the West) is a culture administration under Region Västra Götaland. Sandra Sterle from Split, for example, worked with the projectAngered@home in 2017, that centered on the notion of “home” and issues such as exile, language, identity and alienation. 19  Since the programme invites writers who may live under threats from their homeland regimes, security services or terror organisations.

Konstepidemin Residency Programme possess 5 guest studios. Guesting artist: Megumi Karube Japan, photo: Bibbi Forsman

rentals, as well as communication and development. There are also part-time staff members who manage the international contacts and the residency programme, as well as the gallery operations and the children and youth events. In recent years, 2010 and 2016, the association has ordered an assessment of their organisation.20 In a questionnaire the members rated the merits they considered to be the most desirable in descending order: influence (most important), transparency, flexibility, spontaneity and effectivity (least important). Through discussions it became clear that Konstepidemin was only to a small extent considered to be a learning organisation. Criticism was voiced with regard to how the association handles difficult situations as well as the lack of documentation and evaluation. “Everything is constantly reinvented,” expressed one voice. “New members must also have the right to make their own mistakes,” replied another. The investigators noticed problematic aspects with the informal culture Johan Zetterqvist, ‘Making a sculpture with help of legal drugs’ at BRA 10, performance night once a month, photo: Linda Tedsdotter


that characterises the current organisation and the artists in their studios; creative workshops for

formulated three alternative scenarios for the

children and youths (both at Konstepidemin, and in the

association to decide upon: 1) no organisational change,

suburb Bergsjön, as well as in the neighboring

2) consolidating the studio association, 3) development

municipality of Härryda); theater and concerts;

towards a broader and more outgoing operation,

festivals for performance art and international folk

including the appointment of a head of an executive

music; and specific programmes for the Friends of

manager. According to Mona Wallström, jewelry artist

Konstepidemin Association. In January each year, the

and member of the current coordination triad, the

so-called 13Festivalen takes place over the course of

association could identify with the investigation’s

two days. From noon to midnight the public is treated

analysis of issues and challenges – but rejected its

to performance art in the broadest sense of the term on

suggestions regarding active measures, especially the

all the stages that Konstepidemin can make available.

idea of (re)employing an executive manager. She

Another well-frequented event takes place on the third

emphasises that in a membership-based association,

tuesday of each month under the mystical name BRA10,

where the content of the public activities of the

that supposedly has something to do with a ‘bar’ and a

organisation consists of the artists’ voluntary efforts,

house no. 10. The concept consists of lectures and

deciding how the members spend their free time

performances, and is arranged in collaboration with

cannot be dictated from above. Wallström is further-

the residency programme.

more critical towards the idea that “a strong leader is the only organisational form that applies today.” A work

Konstepidemin is quite a complex organisation. This is

group within the association therefore produced the

in part due to the members’ aversion to bureaucracy

collective model that applies today.

and authoritarian structures. Not since Sören Eriksson’s time as chairman has anyone managed to

How would one describe the current state of affairs at

convincingly convey the importance of professional


leadership in an organisation of Konstepidemin’s

In the 1990s, the term ‘healthy decline’ was used in

nature. The current form of management is character-

England to describe the practice of filling old industrial

ised by a double-command situation. On a formal level,

premises with new activities such as art and culture.

the highest decision-making authority is a board

Perhaps this is the term most apt for Konstepidemin’s

consisting of Konstepidemin members and externally

mix of fervent artistic activity, non-profit public

recruited individuals, including a chairman. On an

endeavors, and an organisational model that includes

informal level, the Artistic Council has considerable, if

elements of both anarchism and Leninism. First of all,

not decisive, influence over shared interests. The

there is something decidedly anachronistic about

members of the council decide for themselves whom to

Konstepidemin, and this is not merely due to the old

elect. Today the main office and the coordinating

buildings. The outdatedness varies in character and

assignments are managed jointly by a triad of half-time employees responsible for the economy and space

20  Göran Pregmark, Review of the Konstepidemin Association’s Organisation, 13 October 2010, and Karin Dalborg & David Karlsson, On the Organisation of Konstepidemin, 18 September 2016.

expresses itself in many ways: in the form of a nostalgic

destructively homogenising city planning. And there is

reservation, as a liberating free zone and as an

indeed a need for such bastions, as would argue every

inspiring utopia. Konstepidemin is a little of everything.

urban sociologist and all those who have experienced

Here one can gain access to a broad spectrum of eras.

the infectious atmosphere of Konstepidemin. It is, in other words, in the interest of the entire city to allow

Secondly, there is something mal placé about the

Konstepidemin to develop as the artist-run and

present day Konstepidemin. Even as a site it tends to

self-organised alternative that it is and can continue to

deviate from the norms of gentrification. This is not


mainly due to its fairly secluded geographical location but rather to the gentrification of central Gothenburg.

In its continued development, Konstepidemin should

When Konstepidemin was first established, much of the

open their studios to members with backgrounds and

old Annedal and Haga still remained intact. In

experiences that better reflect the diversity of

Linnéstaden, artists and others less well off could still

Gothenburg today. Contacts with the surrounding

find relatively cheap accommodation. This is no longer

glocal society can take place through several channels.

the case. Those working at Konstepidemin today, and

An overhaul of the buildings is certainly in order, but

who live in the central area of town, are most likely

perhaps other things need refurbishing as well?

over fifty. Nothing indicates a reversal of that trend, on

Perhaps Konstepidemin should attempt to renovate and

the contrary. This will relatively soon lead to the

re-establish its vision of itself as a source of inspiration,

paradoxical situation, as pointed out by Linda

not to be glossily contemporary or frivolously incorpo-

Tedsdotter, that young artists, who can only find

rated in the gentrified inner city core, but rather as a

affordable housing in the suburbs or rural areas, will

means of relating artistically and politically to the

either be forced to travel long distances to their studios

issues and events that have already earned Gothenburg

or find new workspaces closer to home. Such a future

the sad epithet of the “most segregated city in the

prospect is naturally not a problem only for Konstepi-

country.” ■

demin, but also, and perhaps above all, for those responsible for the city’s development. Members would do well to keep this in mind when discussing future scenarios. A third perspective includes the disintegration of Konstepidemin. To an external viewer it might appear as though the Konstepidemin of 2018 is fragmenting into its individual components: the broad range of creativity in the studios; the non-profit work with public events; the management’s attempt at coordination. There seems to be a lack of cohesive and consistent vision that can inspire both current and future members, and establish the organisation among the citizens living both in and beyond the immediate vicinity. Some of the members seem to foster the idea that Konstepidemin’s legitimacy among the citizens – which is what ultimately motivates the public support of the organisation – stems merely from the artistic excellence of those working in the studios. This is a risky stance to say the least. Answering the question “What are we good at?” should be complemented by at least a preliminary answer to the question “What are we good for?”21 If that does not occur, chances are someone else will answer instead. Or is this an error of judgement resembling the mistake of seeing disorder and chaos at the sight of an anthill? Konstepidemin’s ‘differentness’ concerning its relationship to time and space, and activity and organisation, make it one of the few remaining pockets of opposition against Gothenburg’s ongoing and

21  I expand upon this reasoning in the article ‘On the public value of arts and culture’ in Perspectives on Cultural Leadership, (Eds.) Karin Dalborg & Mikael Löfgren, Nätverkstan 2016.

Opening of exhibition ‘pARTy 2017’ at Konstepidemin Gallery, photo: Camilla Engman

Pontus Raud

The word ‘postmodernism’ has been used extensively since it was coined in 1979 by Jean-François Lyotard in ‘La condition postmoderne: rapport sur le savoir’ (The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge), but it remains problematic to find a definite meaning of the term. The prefix ‘post’ originates in the Latin word for ‘after’, and, in our case, refers to the fall and death of modernism – to it being overcome by something seemingly much more relevant and diverse. One thing that is certain for the artistic discourse is that postmodernism is as flexible as chewing gum and set off to encompass a wide range of art forms. In postmodernism, there is no guidebook for us to dictate the status and hierarchy of the various artistic expressions. In that sense, you can mix the high- and lowbrow, and challenge the traditional cultural values of today’s societies,


‘A piece of Obama’, Pontus Raud, digital collage, 2018 ‘Skyconstruct’, Pontus Raud, oil pastel on paper, 2018

especially the western society. Indeed, these are not ideas that would have influenced the western world overnight. The left-wing political wave which inundated a large part of the western world in the 1960s was strongly anti-authorian, and fought the bourgeoisie with all means, from long hair and tie-dyed clothes, to engaging in a completely unheard of way of life, free sex and heated politics. The theoretical breeding

ground for postmodernism was created within the political discussions of new or reiterated socio political issues such as feminist and minorities’ rights, (post)colonialism, and in philosophy and psychology the ideas of objective and subjective truth, deconstruction of grand metanarratives, role of technology in society, and so on. At the same time, the art world’s culture of craftsmanship, with its focus on traditional skills in distinct disciplines such as painting and sculpture, slowly transformed into the concept-based culture that broke through in the 1990s. There was a seed of postmodernism already planted in the 1910s–20s in the early avant garde’s visionary attempts; amongst many others the Dada movement that worked in small and isolated bohemian circles, misunderstood by the wider public at the time. Marcel Duchamp is regarded as one of the key forerunners of postmodern art, but his most radical gesture failed when he was refused to exhibit his now most recognised works from the ‘readymades’ series, the ‘Fountain’ (the urinal) and the ‘Bottle Rack.’ Not until after the Second World War had he the opportunity to show the readymades. During the 1950s and 60s the Dada and other avant-garde groups’ fantastic ideas were revitalised, and are now referred to as the neo avant-garde. Even though today we might not discuss the nature of postmodern era on a day-to-day basis, postmodernism pops up now and then when different groups appropriate and vocalise its various concepts. In his book, ‘Deconstructing Obama: The Life, Loves, and Letters of America’s First Postmodern President’ (2011), journalist Jack Cashill labels Barack Obama as ‘the first postmodernist president.’ He believes that in his autobiography ‘Dreams’ from 2008, President Obama constructs his own narrative which is inconsistent with numerous facts and dates from Obama’s life and political career. Cashill claims that Obama does this not because he is disingenuous, a sloppy researcher, or a careless writer, but because he actually believes that facts are unimportant, and that each of us is reinventing ourselves through our own narrative. An example from the art world is MOMA’s exhibition ‘Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atempo-

the present has absorbed the past and inhibits the future. What it means is that we tend to apply our contemporary values as the ‘ultimate’ measure of value even for the people who lived during previous historical epochs. Presentism can then cause the effect that one regards Shakespeare as a sexist with pedophile tendencies. Even the future is part of the present, with a slight alteration, a development usually for the better, unlike that of dystopian postmodernism. Presentism could be an easy

ral World’ (2014–15). The term ‘atemporal’ is taken from the sci-fi author William Gibson, and it points out that in postmodernity there is no single expression which would be more representative of the postmodern era than any other. Instead, there are a variety of expressions that exist in parallel, all relevant in their specific contexts. The exhibition demonstrated the concept by not having a unifying thread – instead, several artists with different backgrounds and based in different places around the world were included, and the artworks were produced in a range of formats, mediums and materials. The common denominator was simply that there was none. Another point of view comes from Hollywood’s film industry; the film ‘Blade Runner’ asked the question “What is the meaning of humanity in the postmodern age, when the distinction between human and machine is so unclear?” Postmodernism, liberated from the positive and naive prosperity that modernism was so dedicated to, started to play with the concept of dystopia. The urban landscape in ‘Blade Runner’ has been compared to a postmodern city, with its huge advertisement promoting an off-world colony where the rich have escaped the common people and isolated themselves in luxurious havens. Whether emotions can be programmed or humanity manufactured are the same questions as asked by postmodern philosophers. Indeed there are some components within postmodernism which might influence the next coming -ism(s). Some already have a name for the contemporary era that we are in today – Presentism – where

feel-good strategy, mocking the inabilities and incompetence of the people from the past, but it can also serve as a dangerous tool for the censorship of the values that are ‘wrong’ and events that are seen as inappropriate today, without considering their historical context. In this (contemporary) light, postmodernism might be seen as a tribute to the shallow within the arts, dystopian when it comes to Sci-Fi culture, a way to deconstruct storytelling and with a theoretical background that feels both outdated and embarrassing – but still it pops up wherever we look! Many thanks to Dan Karlholm, PHD in Art history, Södertörn university in Stockholm, for his fruitful words that shimmered the mist around the postmodern history.

‘Postmodern dystopia’, Pontus Raud, digital collage, 2018 ‘77 shades of skin’, Pontus Raud, oil pastel on paper, 2018


FÖLJ MED I SAMTIDSKONSTEN! n r 1 2 017 75 k r 8 5 nok


k on s t b e va

k on s t b e va k n i n g s e d a n 1 9 7 5

Konsten att blåsa liv i glaset – skiftningar i glaskonsten

k n i ng se d an 19 75

ANNA ERL AND SSON syr ihop konst & extrem skidåknin g


n r 1 2 01 8 75 k r 8 5 nok

k on s t b e va

an 19 75 k n i ng se d

k on s t b e va k n i n g s e d a n 1 9 7 5


Återbrukets mästare – LOUISE NEVELSON BREEZE YOKO: »Jag betraktar mig som en berättare«

Möt aktuella klassikern JONAS BOHLIN

Dessuto m




Damien Hirst är tillbaka

Dessuto m

Göteborgsoperan R inspirerar på 14« EDWA RD HOPPE på documenta världssamvete »Konsten som

»Minnen är en gestaltning av tiden« JENNY OLSSON

PRENUMERERA PÅ KONSTPERSPEKTIV VI BEVAKAR SAMTIDSKONSTEN! I varje nummer möter du aktuella, spännande konstnärer och får ta del av fördjupande reportage, både från Sverige och ute i världen. Vi håller också koll på vad som händer i konstföreningarna, från norr till söder. Allt för att hålla dig som älskar samtidskonst så uppdaterad som möjligt. PRENUMERERA ETT ÅR för 240 kronor, för medlemmar i Sveriges konstföreningar, ordinarie pris 290. Få fyra fullmatade nummer med samtidskonst!


HANNAH STREEFKERK visualiserar naturens skörhet och förgänglighet – med virknål! Vemod och gåtfullhet i ett bortglömt fotografi


White Wood A Three Hundred-year-old Legacy Caroline Wendling in conversation with Alice Máselníková

French artist Caroline Wendling began the project White Wood, commissioned by Deveron Projects (previously Deveron Arts) in Huntly, Scotland, in Autumn 2014 as a part of their artist-in-residency programme Oaks & Amity. White Wood connects several themes­– those of pacifism, friendship, humanism, ecology and sustainability. Caroline spent several months in Huntly, a rural part of north-east Scotland, to investigate the local history and landscape, and to use the research in a series of community art activities. Caroline’s residency culminated in the planting of the White Wood located in the Bin Forest on the outskirts of Huntly.

Caroline, can you tell us more about the White Wood

variety of talks and events. I would like the White Wood

project and the ideas behind it? – One hundred years

to become a lasting symbol of peace, ecology, friend-

after the beginning of the World War I, the planting of

ship and longevity.

the White Wood commemorated peace between three nations, Scotland, Germany and France, as well as the

Why do you think that these topics are still relevant

lesser known war histories of the citizens of Huntly.

today? There is a lot of empty-handed peace talk and

The forest is a symbolic unification of the three

altruistic humanitarianism that can be heard from

countries; with acorns of oak trees brought from

politicians and governments, but in the end it is the

Germany, planted in British soil, and accompanied by

same story as ever, with everyone fighting for

white lime stones delivered from Saint-Pierre-Aigle in

themselves, striving for more money and more power.

northern France.

– In a time of change like this, with right wing political


groups bordering on extremism on the rise and the The starting point and inspiration of the White Wood

threat of the open European frontiers being limited or

project is ‘7000 Oaks’, a mass planting happening

closed down, the White Wood might be a place of

organised by artist Joseph Beuys in Kassel, Germany, in

relevance for nurturing a better society. It is only

1982. During Kassel Documenta XIII (2012) Deveron

through peaceful conversation that conflicts have been

Arts collected one hundred acorns from Beuys’ mother

resolved and wars avoided in the past and are avoided

oaks and planted them in their Huntly based office

now. By involving a local community in an art project

garden. We then selected 49 of the strongest oak

based around nature and centred on the ideas of peace

saplings to form the core of the White Wood. Each of

and peacekeeping, I hoped to provide a space for discus-

the oak trees is planted together with one of the French

sion, research and contemplation. I was overwhelmed

stones buried next to it, which serves as a reminiscence

by the interest that the project received from the

of soldiers who died a century ago without their graves.

community. People of all ages took part in the planting

As the oak trees grow, the stones are gradually lifted

and a year later at the official opening, the peace

out of the ground by the roots, thus proving that history

activist Satish Kumar gave a workshop in the wood. He

is still present, even if not seen at first sight. White

spoke gently about his own life experience and we left

Wood is planted in carefully arranged geometrical

with the belief that we too could make a difference in

patterns to be differentiated from its surrounding areas

the world.

and to be recognisable for generations to come. In March 2015 with the help of around one hundred and fifty planters, including children from the local schools, the oaks were planted together with over seven hundred and fifty other trees and more than one thousand flower bulbs. All were chosen to be native flora to Scotland and in tones of white – the colour of peace. The White Wood will grow to its full size within the next three hundred years providing a memorial site for rest and reflection but also a vibrant place for a

Planting White Wood, 2015, photo: Ross Fraser McLean


Too often politicians and people in power have lost

little experience of nature. Nature has been managed

their connection with nature and humanity. They are in

extensively, and in our western societies we often

charge of shaping the world but personal interest and

experience it only in small segregated pieces, unex-

circumstances set them apart from the important

pected places in urbanised areas or at their edges.

humanitarian and ecological goals. We might all fall

Nature might be simply experienced by caring for a

into that trap at times.

plant and watching it grow in our house or garden over

An oak tree is slow growing; time and good conditions

time. Our society is so compartmented; we don’t know

are necessary but also a lot of good fortune for it to

where things come from and how they are made, we

mature. A wood with its many plants small and large; a

take things for granted. People might simply need

mystery and vastness, might be an opportunity to find

opportunities. Opportunities to meet, talk, share and

ourselves. We have to adapt to the ever changing

discuss. The internet has offered huge advantages to

society. We make everyday life choices that affect the

our lives. We can communicate, keep in touch and

quality of the world that we live in, but too often these

watch the whole world. How the voices can be

choices are pressured through manipulation and the

developed so that they reach us and teach us ways to

forces of the market. The White Wood was planted for

behave and work together towards the making of a

the small community of Huntly as a place for reflection

more sustainable society, that is a question. A greater

and contemplation. In today’s society of greed and

listening to scientists who hold the knowledge and facts

‘altruism’ it might be an alternative and a means for

and act accordingly might help. Scientists like artists

escape. I hope the wood will be used as a healing place

can be set aside; they often disrupt and are difficult

for individuals and ultimately for the society.

to understand.

Only a couple of weeks ago, fifteen thousand

Can art actually contribute in a relevant and construc-

international scientists signed the Warning to

tive manner to these two discourses? Or is it more of a

Humanity, an open letter to the world that human

sentimental narrative – a mere commentary?

behaviour needs to be seriously changed if the planet

– I believe that art can make a difference. The difficulty

Earth is to be saved from a certain disaster. This has

lies in how art is presented to the general public. Too

been only the second warning in history since 1992.

often specialised language is used, which makes

Perhaps unsurprisingly it has not really been written

contemporary art very difficult to access. Sometimes

about; people would rather not hear or think of it.

art is overlooked because it is seen only as an alterna-

Every one of us cares about the environment and the

tive to useful things. Art is never a sentimental

planet – as long as we don’t need to alter our own

commentary or just a commentary. Art is action and

behaviour too much and limit our own comforts.

can be a catalyst for change. Art has always been

What do you think of this, perhaps you are more

positioned in the context of a society in a certain time.

optimistic than I am? – Most people act in their own

Art might be the voice of how people think and act in a

interest. The human being is ultimately looking after

particular period. A number of artists embrace ideas of

itself. It might be a necessary state to be in order to

ecology and peacekeeping in their work; they reflect on

survive. But when the idea of caring about the planet

the society. Some artworks offer solutions, others

and our environment is highlighted, we tend to listen,

question our interaction with the world. As long as we

but not act. It is much easier to carry on with the old

ask questions we are bound to keep reflecting on our

and safe behaviour that we already know. We might

behaviour, and possibly try to change.

have simply forgotten what it feels like to experience

Workshop by Satish Kumar during the opening ceremony, 2016, photo: Ross Fraser McLean

nature and be kind to nature. We have lost our way.

You went back to Huntly several times to continue

Most of us live in cities and in the comfort of our

developing the White Wood project. Can you say a bit

homes, detached from nature. We go for a stroll on a

more about what has been happening there since the

country path for an hour or so but we have very

planting of the forest? Are you planning any further activities? – I have been there three times since the planting and each time the site fills me with joy, hope and anticipation. I also worry about its fragility; like all growing things it needs to be nurtured and cherished. The planting was a real succes insofar as nearly all the trees planted are still doing well. We have only lost a handful of silver birch trees, all the oaks are flourishing. They are poking out of their tubes, very soon it will look like a forest! In May 2016, Deveron Projects organised a three day White Wood Forum with an evening of historical

ecological action for the future. If I can see the wood in seven years time I will be already experiencing it as a small wood and I will feel blessed! I am excited by the prospect of seeing it grow a little. It was never conceived for myself, it was always intended as an artwork that will be passed down in an ever-changing state from generation to generation. Now, since we are lucky enough to live quite long, some people might see it grow over ninety years! The youngest planter was five. He might remember planting some of the trees; his mother since sadly passed away. I like to think of the wood as a place to discover and experience nature, as it grows and changes. I do catch myself imagining it in the future. I recently passed by an ancient oak grove near Arbroath; I had to think of the White Wood! I hope it will thrive. Would you rather have your art remembered more than yourself, as a person? Public vs. private legacy? Or are the two inseparable? – The White Wood doesn’t carry my name, there isn’t even a plaque explaining encounters and presentations by several close

what it is. This article might bring some people to find

collaborators of Joseph Beuys, such as Rhea Thönges-

out a little more about the White Wood. It is more

Stringaris, Richard Demarco and Shelley Sacks, and

important that people know of its existence than of my

with the opening talk The Sustainability of Everything

existence. Artists have reasons to make certain works,

by Tim Ingold. The second day included a series of talks

and the project commissioned by Deveron Projects has

by contributors Georges Thierry Handja, who is a

certainly been something I very much wanted to

mapping coordinator at the Rainforest Foundation UK,

complete! I was lucky to be given that chance. I am still

Loïc Fell, chief sustainability officer at BETC, the

finding out reasons for making the work today, but I am


principal French advertising agency, and Satish Kumar with the talk ‘What do Peace and Ecology have in Common?’. On the third day, the venue was the White Wood itself, and comprised a public opening ceremony with Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland from 2007 to 2014, who handed forty-nine white flags to the audience. The flags were embroidered by the community of Huntly and people from further afield (you embroidered one, Alice!) using the quaker stitch to embroider peace quotes by well-known politicians, activists, artists, scientists, writers and philosophers. Activities were offered all day in the wood by local organisations and guided walks were given by artists, geologists and foresters. As part of the project, local artist Mary Bourne was commissioned to make a bench for the wood and also created the White Wood sign, carved in a boulder and inlaid with granite. Two artists have since been offered

not sure that they need to be told. I am more interested

residencies; both residencies have focused on how to

in how people perceive and will perceive the wood in

keep the story of the wood alive in the future.

the future. I like the idea of the stones appearing on the surface as they are pushed by the roots of the oaks into

You will never get to see the finished (full-grown)

the light in many years to come. It is impossible to

result of this artwork. Do you mind? Would you like to

know if the story will have survived or even if people

witness it in three hundred years, once the wood has

will have noticed them when the time comes. The only

fully grown, or do you prefer to keep the idea of it, as

thing I might like to be remembered is that we need to

you had imagined it? – The artwork is a gift. It is also a

look after nature for the future generations. It is our

reminder of our fleeting passage through life. It is an

duty. ■

Transporting the stones for burial, 2016, photo: Caroline Wendling White Wood opening ceremony, words of peace by a representative of the Quakers group, 2016, photo: Ross Fraser McLean White Wood Gala, stone letters by Mary Bourne, 2016, photo: Ross Fraser McLean





Magdalena Blom




Gender Representation Art Museums Stockholm 2012–2017

20 Male Artists Female/ Non-binary Artists


% Ar



g Fo

g to



ka M




3 M

s ille


en M



na Sv





i Th







al W






e j Lil






n on



o sk




l Fä

f rg




When I got the opportunity to start a gallery in the room neighbouring Majkens café, located in Midsommarkransen, the idea surfaced to profile it as a feminist gallery.* At that stage, I had many discussions about what feminism is, and what it does in a specific cultural context. I was discouraged from implementing the feminist concept, as it would exclude certain groups, meaning male artists in particular. Others raised the issue of whether mixing art and politics was a good idea – most likely alienating some artists and audiences. One recurring question was: Will you be able to find enough artists who want to advocate feminism? I opened the gallery in June 2017, with those previous discussions making me even more confident that a feminist-profiled gallery is needed. The space shares both the name and the entrance with the café – Majkens. I decided to keep the name, as ‘Majken’ is a female name, implying a female entrepreneurship, and also since both establishments will depend on one another. For Galleri Majkens first exhibition ‘This Room’ I wanted to ignite Virginia Woolf’s notion about spatial conditions based on gender issues, in relation to artistic production. In order to be creative you need to have the space, funding, and time. The site-specific group exhibition questioned who really is allowed to take up public space based on gender and

ethnicity, examining the fact that white, Euro-American, heterosexual men have always dominated the playing field of the Western art world. Even though in recent years women artists have received greater exposure, they are still far behind their male counterparts in all aspects. We can see this in many examples, such as the prices that women’s artworks command at auctions, the amount and scope of grants received by women, their representation by galleries, and their presence in museum collections and so on.

Sweden´s great reputation also applies to the cultural scene of the city. To find out, I researched eleven of the most frequently visited art museums in Stockholm. The survey covered five years of their public records of past exhibitions as found on their official websites. I counted female and male artists in solo-, duo- and three person exhibitions. As can be seen in the graph above, the research showed that eight out of eleven art museums and galleries showed a male majority, on average showcasing only 36% women. The exceptions were Liljevalchs, Färgfabriken and Bonniers Konsthall, who exhibited 50%, 56% and 75% women artists respectively. An art museum ought to be a place for change and progression, but when it exposes its audience to a stereotypical exhibition narrative, it adds to the already harmful preconceptions of gender roles embedded in our culture as a whole. One can make many conclusions from these statistics.

The Biased Cultural Scene of Stockholm

Based in Stockholm, the capital of the fifth most gender equal country in the world, I could not help but wonder if

* Feminist Gallery: art space showcasing women and non-binary artists, could also include all artists advocating feminist values. Curated exhibitions devoted to raise awareness about gender inequality in the art world, or issues concerning women’s and LGBTQ rights.

Sandra Sundström, ‘Pälsmössan’, detail, mixed material, 2017 This Room 10/6– 8/7 2017, gallery press photo

Becko Ellnemar, ‘Bydinosaurs’, fine liner on paper, digital print, 2017, MOTHERS – The Personal is Political 2/11–10/12 2017

‘MOTHERS – The Personal is Political’ Exhibition view, 2/11–10/12 2017, gallery press photo

What I really hoped for the graph to illustrate is the complete negligence to gender equality these art museums show every time a blue bar goes higher than a pink one.

The Future is Female


As a result of the recent rebellion acts against patriarchal structures, I can feel a warm breeze of change happening right now. Such as the #metoo movement, the protests for women’s rights in Iran and India, or the worldwide Women’s March. This is said to be a new revolution for women, and #metoo was particularly strong here in Sweden. Women across all professional fields, especially in the art sector, shared their experiences of oppression and sexual harassment by male artists and professors taking advantage of their positions of power. The fact that women outnumber men in art schools and at university level, yet so few of them get exhibited or receive high-ranked positions in galleries and museums, points to yet another systematic institutional oppression. This is not only local, but a global issue, as many surveys like my own prove. However, if we look elsewhere, the up-andcoming and emerging women artists of today are starting to find their space. Feminist Artist talk – Rossana Mercado Rojas from the women’s art collective Hysterix, gallery press photo, 2017

Gudrun Carlsson, ‘Happiness is a Warm Gun’, acrylics on wall paper, 1983–84, MOTHERS – The Personal is Political, gallery press photo Tegelbruksv. 2, Hägersten

activists and female artists from the past made way for the women’s rights and equality that we hold today. We are now in the same manner paving the way for future generations of women artists. How? Through the artist-run, independent and underground art scene, where the feminist counteractions are quite numerous – creating new spaces and platforms not prededicated to men. This leads to my vision for the future: as much as the past and present of the art world is considered to be patriarchal, the future will be female – we just have to keep making room for this change to take place. Gallery opening, Maria Ceder Engebretzen and Emma Pettersson Hernandez from Födelsevrålet. Gudrun Schyman and Magdalena Blom, photo: Sandrina Cerda and Malin Lindgren

– Independent feminist art gallery in Midsommarkransen, south of Stockholm – Run by artist Magdalena Blom (b.1987) – Women supporting women in various sectors of society to meet, inspire and collaborate through art and feminism – 35 m2 with a big agenda: • Even out the male-dominated art scene in Stockholmmodels for the contemporary and future art world • Network and collaborate with organisations, groups, artists and other socio-cultural agents to promote the visibility of women in different contexts – Previous collaborations: • Gudrun Schyman – leader of the feminist political party FI (Feminist Initiative) inaugurated the group show MOTHERS – The Personal is Political • Födelsevrålet – organisation improving Swedish obstetric care for women; contributed with a collection of quotes from their archive of birthstories • And many more

Sofia Hultin 19/1 - 18/3 Ulrika Wärmling 27/1 - 18/3 Assa Kauppi 8/2 - 8/4 James Webb 24/3 - 13/5 Ingegerd Möller, Hans Wigert & Ulrik Samuelsson 14/4 - 3/6 Kristina Jansson 26/5 - 12/8 KONST I ÅN 2018 29/6 - 19/8

Norrtälje konsthall Norrtälje museum Galles gränd 7

vi visar konst. måndag - fredag 12-16 | onsdag kvällsöppet 17-19 | lördag 11-15 | Vänersborgs kommun