Critics’ Picks

  • Laercio Redondo and Birger Lipinski, The Phantom Collection, 2021, glass, ceramics, lights, screen print, dimensions variable. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.

    Laercio Redondo and Birger Lipinski, The Phantom Collection, 2021, glass, ceramics, lights, screen print, dimensions variable. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger.

    Södertälje

    Birger Lipinski and Laercio Redondo

    Södertälje Konsthall
    Lunagallerian, Storgatan 15
    October 23–December 4, 2021

    From Plato’s cave to the phantasmagoric semblance of the commodity, shadows and reflections have a long history of serving as epistemological or ideological metaphors. Accordingly, the immersive installation The Phantom Collection, 2021, the first coauthored work by longtime collaborators Birger Lipinski and Laercio Redondo, confronts visitors entering the Södertälje Konsthall not with the vast array of Swedish design objects that constitute the titular “collection,” but rather with a succession of screens on which play out a scintillating theater of translucent silhouettes and colorful refractions. Only after the viewer has circled around the screens does it become clear that the images are projections of backlit glass and ceramic pots, carafes and vases, resting on shelves or revolving plates. By then, it is too late; the objects’ physical embodiments cannot be separated from the initial visual impact of their kaleidoscopic dispersal.

    Disturbing the display’s dazzling beauty is a sound piece that slides from a fictional story about an elderly neighbor supposedly behind the collection to insightful remarks on the histories of Swedish politics and design and their ideological convergence in Folkhemmet (people’s home), the metaphorical conceit at the heart of the country’s peculiar brand of social democracy. But Lipinski’s and Redondo’s skillfully crafted atmosphere also complicates assumptions of originality, equating signature pieces of modernist design with cheap H&M or Ikea knockoffs. First as tokens of national identity and relics of social ideals, then as blueprints for the commodification of design, these objects have performed functions that far exceed their intended purposes.