Ina Blom


    ULLA WIGGEN’S PAINTINGS ARE ENIGMAS. Flat, dense, and obsessive, her mid-’60s depictions of circuitry and electronics resemble diagrams, but instead of informational clarity they express an arcane strangeness. New York audiences received an introduction to the Swedish artist earlier this year, when a selection of her paintings appeared in “Vista View,” an exhibition curated by Caleb Considine at Galerie Buchholz. Here, art historian Ina Blom elucidates the early context of Wiggen’s work, teasing out its affinities and entanglements with modernism’s ongoing mediation of bodies and machines.



    Curated by Marit Paasche and Esther Schlicht

    Amplifying the surge in attention to textile art in general and to the politics and aesthetics of twentieth-century women weavers in particular, Hannah Ryggen’s exhibition at Schirn Kunsthalle will include approximately twenty-five monumental tapestries she created between 1926 and 1970. Born in 1894, the Swedish-Norwegian artist used her slow medium to communicate quick, sharp socialist perspectives on the key political events of her day, such as the rise of fascism and militarism in the 1930s, the atrocities of World War II as she experienced them


    TO WATCH a great many Ed Atkins videos over a short period of time is to become somewhat desensitized to the theoretical-poetic verbiage that often flows through their soundtracks. Eloquently phrased yet hard to follow, these soliloquies at times come across as almost parodic pastiches of decades of Chris Marker–style voice-overs in the field of video art. All that intelligent reflection to the beat of ever-changing associative splicing: Does anyone ever really listen, really give it the attention it seems to demand? Still, some of his phrases stick. They stick because they come across as


    To enter painter and filmmaker Marie-Louise Ekman’s world is to find oneself in a version of the Swedish sexual revolution that is at once decadent, poetic, stylish, biting, and funny. Ekman’s 1977 film Mamma, pappa, barn (Mother, Father, Child) presents a nuclear family weighed down by visual chaos that would do any installation artist proud; in the middle of it all, the titular young child fights for her freedom. The artist’s crisp, cartoonlike paintings in sugary colors, long ignored by critics, deftly question social relations as if from the inside of designs appropriated

  • “Aldo Tambellini: Black Matters”

    Bringing together painting, handpainted slides, film, video, poetry, and sound, Aldo Tambellini created pulsating dark spaces centered on a multidimensional concept of “blackness.” At once a negation of light and visibility in art, an evocation of racial violence and civil rights struggles, and an imagination of the nonhuman sphere of astrophysics, the artist’s work plunges you into a realm where politics is as much a matter of sensation and affect as perception and knowledge. This career retrospective—featuring eighty-six works made between 1950

  • “Poul Gernes: I cannot do it alone—want to join in?”

    I cannot do it alone—want to join in? This call to collaborative action was issued by Danish artist Poul Gernes, who is best known for the multicolored geometries of his seemingly Pop paintings from the 1960s and ’70s. In actuality, these visually striking works were aligned with a constructivist project that attempted to blur the boundaries between art and design in favor of an aesthetics for everyday living. Gernes would expand on this initiative when, in 1961, he cofounded Copenhagen’s so-called Eks-skolen (Ex-school), an experimental endeavor that advocated socially


    WE’VE SEEN IT BEFORE: the hazy glow, the casual perversity, the entire picture made punctum. But we hadn’t seen it before photographer TORBJØRN RØDLAND took up the lens more than twenty years ago, capturing scenes of allure, sex, style—and we’ve never seen it quite like this, in strange focus, unsettlingly backlit, infused with tactility and dread. Despite a recent resurgence of interest in the artist’s work, it remains elusive to critics and viewers alike. In the pages that follow, INA BLOM, who has known Rødland for nearly his entire career, reflects on the artist’s deft touch—and on the uncanny connectivity that surfaces in his photographs.

    I CLEARLY REMEMBER the first work I saw by Torbjørn Rødland. It was a photograph that many others at the time also saw, and that drifted to the top of the local pictorial surf and stayed afloat for a while. This was in the early 1990s, but even today it is difficult to pinpoint exactly what the image, In a Norwegian Landscape 2, 1993, is about. It shows a clearing surrounded by dismal fir woods and, in the middle, a young hipster type—the photographer himself—wearing black jeans and a black suit jacket over a cardigan and button-down shirt. His hair is long and blond; dark aviator

  • “Torbjørn Rødland: Sasquatch Century”

    “What do pictures want?” This provocative question, famously posed by W. J. T. Mitchell to make us reflect on our abiding tendency to attribute quasi-magical agency to images, seems particularly relevant when beholding the uncanny, even importunate vitality of Torbjørn Rødland’s photographs. To look for their meaning somehow seems less urgent than to find out why they are here and what they plan to do with us. Answers may perhaps be found at Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, in the artist’s midcareer survey of seventy select works from the past twenty-one years. In Rødland’s

  • Hold Stenhårdt Fast På Greia Di: Norwegian Art and Feminism 1968–89”

    It may seem surprising that Norway—a deeply feminist country—has never had a major survey addressing the impact of second-wave feminism on its art production. Yet it is perhaps fortuitous that this exhibition on just that subject is happening at a moment when antifeminist sentiment in the Norwegian public sphere seems to be increasing and actual knowledge about the movement’s diverse positions is fading. With a title that defies translation (literally, “hold on to your thing”), this show will span thirty


    THE ONLY INSTANTLY RECOGNIZABLE thing is water. It must be water, unless it is some other translucent fluid that catches the light and puts objects in motion. Not that the movement is very dramatic. Whatever natural phenomena are caught on this videotape—ferns? Small buds? A butterfly wing? Torn petals?—seem to feel no obligation to provide any sense of action, much less to explain themselves. On first impression they come across as minor contingencies on a picture plane. A tangle of billowing red and white shapes remain locked in a vibrating standstill until interrupted by a brief

  • “Salon der Angst”

    Face your fears. This imperative is clearly the rationale behind “Salon der Angst,” Nicolaus Schafhausen’s inaugural exhibition as director of Kunsthalle Wien. At this moment of grave economic and ecological crisis, the show is designed to target the affective dimensions of our attempts to handle a present and a future that are rife with a whole new range of insecurities. A host of artists, including Saâdane Afif, Didier Fiuza Faustino, Gerard Byrne, and Zin Taylor, will explore angst and its related symptoms, such as phobia, panic, and depression,

  • “Arbeidstid”

    There is surely some bitter irony to the fact that an exhibition about the changing conditions of labor is taking place in Norway, one of the few European countries not really affected by financial crisis and mass unemployment. Yet the purview of “Arbeidstid” (Work Time) is not just joblessness and the erosion of the social safety net but also the transformation of work into entertainment, lifestyle, and identity project that marks today’s information economies. Engaging the perspectives of some thirteen artists and collectives, including Olivia Plender and Sharon

  • Aldo Tambellini at Tate Modern

    THE CHOICE OF VENUE could not have been more perfect. The huge, unlit, cylindrical spaces of the Tate Tanks seem to call for an artist whose preferred shape is the circle and whose key motif is darkness or, to be more precise, blackness, in all its forms and with all its connotations. Neither white cubes nor black boxes, the Tanks project a spirit of “activity” that is equally apposite here: Aldo Tambellini has been a media artist since the early 1960s, and his use of video, film, and slide projections has always been about environmental manipulations and sensorial onslaught, not about presentation


    THE ENDURING EPHEMERAL: I borrow this term from Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, who introduced it in her 2011 book Programmed Visions in order to articulate the following paradox of digital memory culture. As our worldly goods become increasingly immaterial, we rely more and more on hardware and software that promise to safeguard our possessions, to imbue our documents, communications, images, books, music, and financial information with a measure of permanence. We rely, in short, on digital storage, but in so doing, we curiously conflate the concept of storage with the concept of memory itself. Whereas

  • “Yvonne Rainer: Space, Body, Language”

    Anyone who’s seen Yvonne Rainer’s 1966 Hand Movie will have noted the work’s striking use of an intimately vernacular body language and the particular way in which Rainer relates dance to film.

    Anyone who’s seen Yvonne Rainer’s 1966 Hand Movie will have noted the work’s striking use of an intimately vernacular body language (famously anomalous within modern dance) and the particular way in which Rainer relates dance to film. The seventy-seven-year-old artist has continued to cross-pollinate these two time-based media throughout her career, liberating bodies from the dramatic strictures of virtuoso performance to cultivate, instead, the wide range of temporalities and rhythms that the body produces of its own accord. In this dual-venue

  • Jutta Koether

    AT THE ENTRANCE to Jutta Koether’s exhibition at Moderna Museet, a sculptural arrangement greeted the visitor. Comprising a metallic red platform and a partially framed glass pane placed at an angle to a video projection, it suggested that one should pay special attention to the performance that took place during the opening, on that very spot, by the artist and Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon. The projected video was a documentation of this event, and judging from the size of the crowd and the scratching and beating of instruments onstage, it must have been intense. But in the brightly lit hallway,


    IN ORDER TO ACCOMMODATE the seven light columns of Cerith Wyn Evans’s S=U=P=E=R=S=T=R=U=C=T=U=R=E (“Trace me back to some loud, shallow, chill, underlying motive’s overspill . . .”), 2010, Norway’s Bergen Kunsthall had to make special arrangements with its power company. The amount of electricity needed to run these stacks of tube-formed glass lightbulbs containing old-fashioned filament technology (the work requires a staggering 123,050 watts at full capacity) meant that the institution had to drill through two concrete floors to make way for new high-capacity cables, as if preparing for some

  • “Talk To Me”

    “Talk to Me” brings technology into this equation, as curators Paola Antonelli and Kate Carmody invite us to explore the ways in which contemporary objects increasingly engage us in complex processes of communication.

    Some decades ago, we learned that objects are not merely pieces of inert matter but signifiers—active elements in our construction of meaning. “Talk to Me” brings technology into this equation, as curators Paola Antonelli and Kate Carmody invite us to explore the ways in which contemporary objects increasingly engage us in complex processes of communication. When objects become interfaces, networks, robots, games, visualization devices, and applications, the question of design not only addresses interactive functionality but also involves issues

  • ARS 11

    Explaining “Is Africa,” the ambitious theme of ARS 11, former Kiasma Museum director Berndt Arell writes, “I do not just want to show things, but rather to make people experience Africa with all their senses.”

    Explaining “Is Africa,” the ambitious theme of ARS 11, former Kiasma Museum director Berndt Arell writes, “I do not just want to show things, but rather to make people experience Africa with all their senses.” And so, for this fiftieth edition of Finland’s largest annual exhibition, some thirty artists will provide perspectives on Africa as a cultural phenomenon, with particular emphasis on its western and southern regions. The show will recognize the continent’s contemporary art stars—Benin-born Georges

  • Knut Åsdam

    Ever given much thought to the human figures populating architectural models? Those tiny characters involved in a variety of generic activities indicating the potential life of spaces yet to be constructed? Ciphers of normality, Man and Woman Engaged in Conversation, Group of Businessmen Crossing a Square, and Teenagers Hanging Out are placed there to convince us of the purposeful plenitude of a design in which the interests of all relevant parties can be served. Imagine, then, what such abstract figures would look like if the construction in question were no longer on the drawing board but in