Tove Storch

NILS STÆRK
Ny Carlsberg Vej 68
August 28–October 18

View of “Tove Storch,” 2014. Foreground: Untitled 1, 2014. Background: 11 Pages; 6 Pages; 16 Pages; 9 Pages, 2014.

On first look, Tove Storch’s three new sculptural works—some standing, others lying directly on the floor—look like pieces of one big, rusty radiator. Upon closer inspection, though, one discovers they’re unexpectedly fragile and made of rusted metal and transparent silk with thin spaces between the layers of fabric. Creating works that look monumental but are actually light and in some ways delicate signifies a dissonance between appearance and the reality essential to her work.

Extending a Minimalist tradition wherein the inherent properties of the materials used decide the aesthetic and limits of a work, as in the output of Dan Flavin and Donald Judd, Storch also addresses the invisible forces that shape our world and adds her own elegant touch. The two mediums utilized here enter into a new and dirty relationship with each other in which the naturally occurring rust discolors the raw silk. Rather than discrete monuments to pure conceptual thought, these works reflect the natural processes of decay and contamination that living things endure. Considering the title of the standing “Pages” (all works 2014) series, every silk layer stretched inside its metal covers becomes like a page in a book. Indeed, paper and artists’ books play a dominant role in Storch’s practice, and here she elegantly transforms these rather immense metal sculptures into a poetic analogy for the art object as a container of ideas.

Maria Kjær Themsen

Jonas Lund

BOETZELAER|NISPEN | AMSTERDAM
De Clercqstraat 64
September 6–October 11

View of “Jonas Lund,” 2014.

Initially, the premise of Jonas Lund’s latest show in Amsterdam would seem to address a simple yet tangled question: Can a painting become art by following instructions from a book? Painted by four hired assistants following Lund’s specific book of guidelines during the gallery’s open hours, the finished works are then photographed and uploaded to the website studio-practice.biz. A designated panel of artists, curators, dealers, and collectors reviews each piece and posts their judgments to the site as advice on which paintings should be signed and which to destroy. In this context, the gallery is transformed into a visible production line of art. The team’s materials are scattered around while paintings of various sizes stand piled against a wall or hang pending final decision. On another wall is a monitor displaying website updates in real time, as well as mounted surveillance cameras streaming a live feed of the production process to the exhibition’s virtual visitors.

The insular nature of the project—opinions within the art world blatantly determining the value of artworks made for that world—points to a certain cyclical cynicism about the contemporary production and reception of works. All of the paintings are sufficiently marketable given their Abstract Expressionist quality, and they have catchy titles such as Laura Palmer’s Curtain 2 and Offset Matterhorn #1. Given the precision with which the documenting website has been designed and managed, including an unusual presentation of the assistants’ labor contract, as well as the less significant role of the participating gallerists and the complete absence of the artist himself (apart from a final comment and signature on the chosen works), it becomes evident that Lund holds a mirror to the art world’s systems of evaluation and assignations of value.

Huib Haye van der Werf

“Positions”

VAN ABBEMUSEUM
Bilderdijklaan 10
July 5–October 12

View of “Positions,” 2014.

For the inaugural presentation of “Positions”—a newly launched exhibition model that continues the museum’s focus on radical, socially engaged art—Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Céline Condorelli, Bouchra Khalili, Koki Tanaka, and Charles van Otterdijk have been invited to display a substantial body of work investigating how we take a stance and position ourselves in the world. In dialogue with one another, these practices address the viability of political agency—that is, the capability of a person to act free of oppression or coercion—in the twenty-first century.

Dutch artist van Otterdijk’s cryptic installation Double Centre, 2009-2014, for instance, consists of a series of stark, fluorescent-lit rooms populated by deceptively familiar, quotidian-looking objects, which at first glance resemble functional desks, chairs, or bookcases, but upon closer inspection are eerily unidentifiable. Based on two enigmatic, undisclosed buildings that the artist discovered on the German-Polish border, the installation is chilling and unsettling; its bunker-like atmosphere recalls covert detention centers, the likes of which proliferated during the War on Terror.

Similarly concerned with how sites and nation-states are surveilled and controlled, Jordanian artist Abu Hamdan’s cacophonous Tape Echo, 2013–14, reflects on the “ethical soundscape” of Cairo (a city notorious for its unnerving din), which has, in the past few years, come under tighter military command. To record and, by extension, intervene in the city’s highly politicized audio space, the artist has recycled the cassette sermon, a media formerly used to broadcast Islamic prayer that has recently been replaced by government-sanctioned, digitally-distributed speeches. Because magnetic tape never deletes its content, only realigns it, Abu Hamdam poignantly ensures that the sermons of a not so distant, more liberated past survive as a foundation of those of a more suppressed present.

Natalie Musteata

Gunilla Klingberg

MALMÖ KONSTHALL
St Johannesgatan 7
July 5–October 19

View of “Gunilla Klingberg,” 2014.

Every year, the moon drifts farther away from Earth a distance equivalent to “the length of a worm,” in the lyrical words of astronomer Chris Impey. Consequently, because of a planetary tug-of-war that slows the planet down, today was fifty-four billionths of a second longer than yesterday. Inversely, calculations suggest that, four billion years ago, the moon was ten times closer than it is now. Then, a day passed in six hours.

Gunilla Klingberg’s exhibition ponders these questions, via old and new works that reflect on the universe, its movements and, it seems perforce, on entropy, spanning from the subject of Ley lines—an alleged aligning of humanity’s monoliths—to the moon’s gradations. The predominant artwork is the exhibition’s namesake, A Sign in Space, 2012/14, a title which derives from a chapter in Italo Calvino’s Cosmicomics. It’s a lengthy stretch of sand intersecting the sizable Konsthall over which a paver (a truck that levels asphalt) has been driven to impress a star-shaped pattern. For another version of the piece, staged in 2012 on Laga Beach, Spain, the truck’s cylinder was rolled to imprint the same pattern on the seashore at low tide. When the tide turned, the pattern was effaced, only to be recreated every following ebb, in an eternal, cyclical return of tide and of sign. As Qfwfq, Calvino’s protagonist—who marked his place with an insignia in the Milky Way—discovered, making any sort of sign is a precarious business, whether because symbols disappear or because they lose their meaning.

Theodor Ringborg

Lena Svedberg

MODERNA MUSEET | STOCKHOLM
Skeppsholmen
May 17–October 12

Lena Svedberg, “Mr Aldman – Superhero of the Universe,”1969, mixed media, dimensions variable.

Precursor to the riot grrrl provocatrices of the 1990s and Raymond Pettibon, Sweden’s Lena Svedberg created menacing cartoons that documented xenophobia and she displayed them at the height of her generation’s activist fever, in 1969. Her masterwork, Mr Aldman – Superhero of the Universe, 1969, which debuted at the 1969 Paris Youth Biennale, is on view at Moderna Museet, Stockholm. The main character, resembling a twisted Hieronymus Bosch figure, gets to Beirut by following an oil pipeline; appearing along the way are Svedberg’s illustrations of heads of state and church leaders (including Pope Paul VI), and the flags of Israel, France, Palestine, and the US, among others. Implicating these figures and hubs of power by including them on his journey, Mr. Aldman witnesses the implosion of the Middle East’s delicate political ecosystem amid the Western pursuit of oil.

There’s no doubt that the subject matter of much of Svedberg’s artwork, especially the acidic Mr Aldman, was influenced by the brief part of her childhood spent in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where her father was the ruling party’s economic advisor. Later, when Svedberg attended the Royal Academy in Stockholm, she did not engage much in creating subversive imagery until cofounding the radical satire magazine PUSS in 1968, a short-lived underground endeavor that featured surrealist, assemblaged covers.

Though Moderna Museet has owned Mr Aldman for four decades, the suite was only recently restored after sitting in disrepair. The incendiary work, as relevant as ever, merely suggests what blunt expressions of the next few tumultuous decades Svedberg’s work might have been if she had not committed suicide in 1972, at the age of twenty-six.

Jennifer Piejko