Anna Sagström

“A last zone of being before departure into elsewhere.” Minibar say goodbye with lightness + share their most memorable projects

20 June 2017

“Maybe there is/ a substitute/ for exhibiting” reads an A4 piece of paper (written by artist Sanna Helena Berger) and placed on the door of Stockholm-based project space Minibar during their last ever exhibition Horizon(e) on June 10. After seven years, the press release describes the event as “a last zone of being before departure into elsewhere” with “equal measures of lightness and spiritedness.” The evening included performances and works by Vera Karlsson, Eugene Sundelius von Rosen & Salomo Andren, Klara Utke Acs, Rasmus Myrup and Emily Jones among others, as well as an after party by COUNTRY MUSIC

“What does it mean to inhabit a space in such a closed locality like the one in Vasastan. What does it mean to be six women starting and running a space together? What does it mean to start a space completely without funding but placing ourselves in the same plane as long-established commercial spaces? ” write Anna Sagström and Matilda Tjäder of Minibar via email about the beginnings of the project. They are two members of the curatorial team from the last three years, which also includes Malin Henningsson, Sofia M. Westin and Aron Kullander-Östling. All artists themselves, and geographically sprawled, the space has become nucleus for the collective.

Since its beginnings, Minibar had evolved through ‘tentacular’ projects that weave genre and generation, or as Tjäder describes, “introducing plot-twists to already twisted plots” with “exhibition as fiction” being a strong point of interest, as well as “contemporary strands of (media/posthumanist) philosophy, notions and critique of authorship, and fiction as instruction.” They used their lack of budget and space as a curatorial advantage, “using every centimetre: backspace, ceiling, floor, showing works in the bathroom, window.”

Upon saying goodbye, Minibar reflect and share with us some of the most memorable projects over the years:

Enigma (2014) Courtesy Minibar, Stockholm.

Enigma (Apr 12 to May 3, 2014)

In Minibar’s 6 years of existence there have been a few definite paradigm shifts (in the program and organizationally) and Enigma is one of them. It’s also a good example of a close and conversation-based collaboration with our long standing graphic designer Aron Kullander-Östling, illustrating how his work exists in tandem with how we’ve developed the exhibitions. After a few years of putting on shows as an artist run space that recently had received public funding we were thinking a lot about accessibility and ‘the public’ and I think we got a bit burned out after a while. So for us, Enigma was a way back to our idea of presenting works in the space: with not everything all the time overly explained or in total clarity. Aron’s work reflected this with a large transparent window foil and a shadow foil text inside the space as well as accompanying custom made usb cards we made with encrypted works, notably by Lars TCF Holdhus. The flyer for this show is also a favourite, as well as a text work by Rasmus Fleischer about digital copyright in cities.

With works by: Steve Bishop, Constant Dullaart, Christian Jeppson, Sonia Kacem, Sofia M. Westin, Anna Sagström, Pilvi Takala, Lars TCF Holdhus and Yoga Center through USB cards.

6th sense (2015) Installation view. Courtesy the artists + Minibar, Stockholm.

6th sense, January 15 to February 7, 2015

“Another turn in the program was 6th sense, the first in the curatorial collaboration between Ann and Matilda  themselves in January 2015. It took shape as a group exhibition and small publication – asking artists and writers to speculate on a fictional sense.”

Heavy winter rain showers framed the space, steaming up the gallery windows. In the middle Jenny Kalliokulju’s female corpse in styrofoam held court with its amputated body and plastic hose pulsating through the torso, circulating blue fabric softener via a water pump like an artificial fountain of life. Visitors became aware of their wet feet by trying not to trip over Joel Dean’s motor vehicle carrying a Coca-Cola ‘Life’ aluminum can with a dying chrysanthemum: the sculpture directed the choreography of the space and the visitors. In the tiny backroom Michael Guidetti’s ‘Skeleton Sweep’ continued with podcast field recordings, interweaving with the narration of Sasha Litvintseva’s video ‘Immortality, Home and Elsewhere.'”

With works by: Joel Dean, Michael Guidetti, Jenny Kalliokulju, Sasha Litvintseva, Anna Sagström & Sydney Shen & included in the pamphlet: Sydney Beaumont, Sean Fabi, Jenny Kalliokulju, Nora N. Khan, Ryan Kuo and Josh Minkus

Arche Apeiron, Eva Löfdahl & Sean Raspet (2016) Courtesy the artists + Minibar, Stockholm.

Arche Apeiron, Eva Löfdahl & Sean Raspet, August 22 to September 9, 2016

“[This is ] our most minimal exhibition in the program and the first where we joined a longer-spanning retrospective presentation of one artist with a contemporary body of work by another. Eva Löfdahl was a sculptor we had been curious about for years, as well as based in Stockholm and active since the 80s (and represented Sweden in the Venice Bienniale in 1995), but with a relatively slow exhibition frequency. Our show took focus in Löfdahl’s work with aesthetic representations of scientific formulas and complexities, such as the number pi, physical symmetry and categorization of plants. We exhibited these works in tandem with those by Los Angeles-based artist Sean Raspet (born almost exactly 20 years later than Eva). He presented three synthetic and chemical reformulations of our most common fruits: apple, pear and bananas. They were conceptual and available through the sense of smell, while Löfdahl’s was through vision and imagination. We also intervened and further joined their practices together by making text excisions from their works and put on mirroring sides of our large gallery window.”

Chronos (2016) Installation view. Courtesy the artists + Minibar, Stockholm.

CHRONOS, April 8 to 30, 2016

“Working across generations was a semi-frequent activity in our program during the past years; contaminating the archive a little bit (geography in layers, going back in history and being inspired by the artists working alongside us in Stockholm, but inaccessible because of time’s passing); tracing conceptual, material, and theoretical processes – proposing congruence and conflict, simultaneously. The conversation with Ulla Wiggen started via a shaky Skype connection between London and Stockholm, and has continued since. Wiggen was the first and only painter we’ve worked with, and in the exhibition we included two of her paintings of cybernetic systems, circuits and insides of technical objects made in the 1960s as well as one recent painting from her contemporary area of interest; bodily organs. They were paired with Veit Laurent Kurz’ anthropomorphized and militarized branches that mobilized an impermanence in the space. In fact we had planned Kurz’ work for months without finding the right context or partner for it, and the exhibition kept on being postponed, until we came across Wiggen’s work. We also invited British artist Emily Jones to make a permanent piece (that she will come to read in Stockholm on our closing event) and hosted a conversation with Wiggen that became the starting point of an important friendship to us.”

Memoirs found in a Bathtub (Protocol 1-4) (2017) Installation view. Courtesy the artists + Minibar, Stockholm.

Memoirs found in a Bathtub (Protocol 1-4), April 9 to June 3, 2017

“Inspired by Stanislaw Lem’s Soviet science-fiction novel Memoirs found in a Bathtub, the protocol series was a manifolded entity – testing scripted formats, the relationship between formulas and result, codes and dramaturgies, contemporary forms of (affective/networked) biopolitics, data governance. The series was our last longer body of work before the final opening. For the show, Matilda invited a number of different practices spanning over four separate events, starting with a one-evening screening with 10 influential video works (from Suzanne Treister’s ‘The Gardener’ to Karrabing Film Collective’s ‘Wutharr Saltwater Dreams’), continuing with an eight hour long larp (live action role play) by Susan Ploetz, followed by a discussion with Patricia Reed and Gabriel Widing the next day – discussing somatic practices and notions of the extra-sensory in detail.

The protocol series culminated in the group exhibition Mnemonic Memoirs; tying notions of (rephrased) memory, memoirs, storage, coincidence of temporalities, and other fictions. Sydney Shen’s ticking, kinetic metronome sculpture, a performance by Felix Riemann leaving tele-prompters behind as props, Julia Bondesson’s wood carvings and Jenna Sutela’s video of a home-brewed computer and poem on the window came together in a manifestation of the agreed and disagreed.

With participation by: Graeme Arnfield, Johanna Billing, Julia Bondesson, Karrabing Film Collective, Santiago Mostyn, Susan Ploetz, Jelena Popova, Patricia Reed, PWR, Felix Riemann, Manuel Saiz, Sydney Shen, Jenna Sutela, Suzanne Treister, Gabriel Widing and Amir Yatziv.**

The closing Horizon(e) group event was on at Stockholm’s Minibar on June 10, 2017.

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Deep Skin @ SNOlab exhibition photos

22 December 2015

Deep Skin is a group exhibition in a particle physics research laboratory that is 2100 metres underground called SNOlab. SNOlab is protected by being underground so that greatly sensitive experiments can go on undeterred by the cosmic rays of natural light and the background radiation of air. Participating artists include Pakui HardwareAgatha Valkyrie Ice,* Bitsy Knox + Christian Tonner, Visualize→Actualize, Antoine Renard, and TROI OI (Nhu Duong + Sung Tieu)

Visiting Deep Skin and SNOlab can result in experiencing vertigo and severe ear pain. It is nice that art is residing in such a place protected, distant and on the interior of something. The context runs deep -of course it does -to protect the particles: highly clean, no dust, some things vacuum packed: like the hair in Paul Barsch’s work ‘BIOBCI-CARRIER’.

Nhu Duong + Sung Tieu, TROI OI (2015) Install view. Courtesy SNOlab.
Nhu Duong + Sung Tieu, TROI OI (2015) Install view. Courtesy SNOlab.

Organisers, Berlin-based Canadian artists Grégoire Blunt and Emmy Skensved who previously curated shows: eStamina and 2nd Skin have also made pieces for the show as well as documenting it. All images are courtesy SNOlab and depict the art works/particles hand-held in close proximity to what presumably is already being used in the lab. ‘LINDA’ (2015) by Agatha Valkyrie Ice, a spray bottle with its name on and white foam escaping slightly out of the gap between the top and the body sits in a small seat with more foam having gently escaped around its base.

Martin Kohout’s ‘SKINSMOOTH VER.(s)’ are versions of clear gloves filled with a wet but hard material inside clear bags folded in various manners around the space. They are not quite hands and it makes it creepy. ‘SHE, A SKELETON’ (2015) by Dorota Gaweda + Egle Kulbokakaite is a silvery enticing object that looks like a fossil and, although it has no face or head, has a backbone and a recognisably amphibian tale. It sits on a much shinier piece of metal. Another piece of hand-held documentation is an image of someone applying on an iPad for a Guinness World Record for the ‘Deepest Underground Art Exhibition in History’. As part of Gaweda and Kulbokaite’s ‘SHE, A SKELETON’ a piece of writing dismantles and remakes an interior inside or elsewhere, like “working towards the seabed, following the steady pace of the sleeping animals”. The words are displayed on a small screen, held by a person and photographed, sealed in the image. 

Deep Skin will be underground for one year from August 14, 2015, to August 14, 2016, protected by and co-existing in SNOlab. It pulls on memory and the preserving power of reminders. It pulls on that which is too clean and precious to be touched – or to touch back – but close enough to remember deeply. In six months time maybe you might think about the sea bed, or dry hair and think about them all down there. **

Exhibition photos, top right.

The Deep Skin group exhibition is on at Sudbury’s SNOlab from August 14, 2015, to August 14, 2016.

Header image: Anna Sagström, GLOBAL ROUNDUP, ROUNDUP® (GYPHOSAT, GERBIZID) (2015) Install view. Courtesy SNOlab.

*Clemence de La Tour du Pin, Dorota Gaweda and Egle Kulbokaite.

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‘Breathing Kevlar, Perforated Skin’ @ V4ULT reviewed

9 December 2013

The documentation of completed art works is usually a closed affair. In the case of Breathing Kevlar, Perforated Skin, the documentation was the content of the exhibition, which led to a series of bewildering encounters and borderline perverse scenarios.

V4ULT is a project space run out of a studio on Adalbertstrasse, one of the hippest hubs near Kreuzberg’s Kottbusser Tor. Billed as a “performative group show”, the exhibition’s description was otherwise opaque. The blurb read as an ad for Screen Ops Tactical Gloves –hand wear that allows you to use touch-activated electronics while working in “tactical environments”. The relation between the gloves and the show was never explicitly illuminated but the almost poetic perversity of the their description might provide the missing link.

Photographer Mikko Gaestel documented the artworks, for the two-hour exhibition. Several people –friends or benevolent assistants of the artists –lined up in a dark, bare room with the works in hand, ready to be photographed by Gaestel. In the far corner of the room, a one person-wide, brightly-lit closet served as the backdrop for the shoot. The objects were photographed in the hand of their guardian, while visitors could peer into from over Gaestel’s shoulder. The whole thing proved a curiously voyeuristic experience.

'Breathing Kevlar, Perforated Skin' exhibition documentation @ VAULT. Image courtesy of the gallery.
Mia Goyette (Klarer Geschmack / Aus 660 m Tiefe / 15.000 Jahre alt, 2013). Image courtesy V4ULT.

The objects to be displayed, though largely unassuming, took on a fetishistic character in the context of their documentation. Martin Kohout’s ‘Sticks: Class A’ (2011) looked like a cross between a wind instrument, a weapon and a ritualistic divining rod. The ‘Based on Memory’ (2012) Euro coins by Anne de Vries were exhibited enticingly in the palm of their bearer’s cupped hands, like a semi-religious offering. All the while, Hanne Lippard’s familiar voice filled the room, as her audio narrative ‘Dings (Horrorscope 2014)’ (2013) –a series of prophetic reflections on suffocating office atmospheres mixed with astrological truisms –emanated reassuringly from a laptop on a table. It was played on V4ULT’s website (where it can still be seen), the background pattern of Naja Ankarfeldt’s accompanying video, ‘Things’ (2013), meshing seamlessly with the wallpaper itself, giving rise to the V4ULT tag line that “the URL continues IRL”. The site becoming personified –in lieu of the artists themselves –as participant among the performers in the room.

Conceptually, the exhibition was excellent, which made it almost unbearable to experience in real life (conceptual art often only being recognizably good when reflected upon in its wake). There was no indication of how to behave in this strange domestic space, no division between visitors and performers, and seemingly no one ‘in charge’. Witnessing the documentation of an event –before or in the absence of the event itself –produces a sense of fruitless anticipation. This unrequited feeling lingered beyond the one night show, a sure sign of seductive success. **


Breathing Kevlar, Perforated Skin ran at Berlin’s V4ULT gallery for one night only on November 27, 2013.

Header image: Anne de Vries (Based On Memory, 2012). All images courtesy V4ULT.

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