In the spring of 2017, Moderna Museet Malmö will present a solo exhibition with Annika Eriksson, one of Sweden’s most acclaimed artists internationally, as curated by Joa Ljungberg. It will be the first major survey of her artistic practice held in Malmö, the artist’s place of birth. The exhibition focuses on Annika Eriksson’s works of the last decade, comprising LED-signs, video, slideshow, documentation of performance as well as different kinds of sculptural objects. Several of these works are permeated with a dense but elusive atmosphere, evoking the feeling of a place, or an existence, somewhere in between reality and fiction. There is also a recurring sensation of a looped movement in time – between a past that is gone and a future that has not yet become.
Reflecting the artist’s interest in major social transformations, many of the works occupy the gaps that are created when social visions fade into history before new ideas and models have yet taken form. How do we live together, what kind of societies do we create, and what happens in the margins and in the transitional process from one society to another? At the core is a keen interest in human interaction and the interplay between humans and animals, as explored by the artist in everyday places and situations, with subdued matter-of-factness and humour. The exhibition The Social focuses on the last few years of her artistic practice and is structured around a new series of works.
In the center of the Turbine Hall at Moderna Museet Malmö, visitors encounter an enlarged replica of Axel Nordell’s play sculpture “The Apple” that has been permanently placed in Pildammsparken in Malmö since 1972. Among the new works are also objects made in papier-maché, a number of LED-signs, and a blown-up photograph of an anarchistically oriented children’s workshop. While together forming an installation, these new pieces also create an environment, imbued with memories and associations, for the other works on display.
Throughout the exhibition, there is a predominant sensation of a gliding movement in time – between a past that is somehow still present and a future that already lurks in our consciousness. In one of Annika Eriksson’s most recent videos, Past Lives Selector (2016), we encounter two cosplayers that have been commissioned by the artist to create personas in relation to an open-air history museum. Though they are both dressed in historical costumes, they appear oddly futuristic – like two medieval cyborgs.
A number of the exhibited works place themselves in the gaps that are created when social models fade into history before new ideas and visions have materialized. One example is the video In Preparation for a Psychodrama (2015), set in Folkets Park (The People’s Park) in the Swedish town Grängesberg – which used to be a thriving mining community before its industries closed down. Here we encounter a group of local amateur actors who are trying in various ways to create new contexts, in an environment shaped by ideals and visions of the past.
“Annika Eriksson’s works move with elusive rapidity between memories and visions of the future. Together, they create a melting pot of different time zones, mixing utopian promises from the past with dystopian fantasies, and glimpses of potential new futures,” says Joa Ljungberg, curator of the exhibition.
Annika Eriksson’s long-running investigation into different forms of social interaction and organization also includes that between humans and other animals. This interestingly aligns her practice to the expanding field of Animal Studies. Works such as I am the dog that was always here (loop) (2013), and The Community (2010), address the gentrification and associated sanitation of our cities, while also focusing on the emergence of informal social sites that in turn generate new modes of existence. The animals portrayed here are very much present in their own right, but also function as anthropomorphic protagonists in narratives on social change.
Annika Eriksson was born in Malmö, and has been living in Berlin since 2002. She is one of Sweden’s most acclaimed artists internationally, and her works have been shown around the world, for example at the Hayward Gallery in London, Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, SALT in Istanbul, Hamburger Bahnhof and Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art in San Francisco, as well as the biennials in Istanbul, Shanghai, São Paulo, Dakar, Vienna and Venice.