Critics’ Picks

Sture Johannesson, “Revolution Means
Revolutionary Consciousness”, poster, 1968.

Sture Johannesson, “Revolution Means
Revolutionary Consciousness
”, poster, 1968.


“Creeping Revolution”

Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art
Gasverksgatan 22
January 18–March 16, 2003

This exhibition proposes that a “creeping revolution” is taking place under the seductive surface of a certain use of the decorative. Its underlying project is to reconcile politically committed artwork, which often adopts a “low-key” aesthetic, and art forms that are emphatically rooted in the image. For artists like Lily van der Stokker, Wilhelm Sasnal, or Silke Otto-Knapp, an approach to a social phenomenon is not stated explicitly but flows instead into a colorful allover camouflage; a wall painting with pink flowers; or a watercolor of palm trees in many shades of green. Many works—such as Frances Stark’s atmospheric videos of her cats fooling around at home—focus on the familiar, the intimate, and the personal rather than the categorical and the research-based, recalling the late-'60s rallying cry that the personal is political. The '60s and '70s are represented in the show by Bas Jan Ader and Sture Johannesson, whose irritating poster showing a naked woman smoking a hash pipe once caused quite a scandal within a bourgeois art institution. Psychedelic visual language is now, of course, acknowledged as the iconography of nonviolent hippie revolution. On this poster and in another work as well, Johannesson formulates the motto for the whole exhibition: “Revolution means revolutionary consciousness”—which can go in fancy dress, one might add. Like a related project organized at Warsaw’s Foksal Gallery, this exhibition will actually evolve over the course of its run, creeping alongside the frequent visitor toward the Rooseum’s own art-institutional revolution.