I have a new found love for Swedish installation artist Gunilla Klingberg after receiving a copy of the catalogue publication for her solo show at Bonniers Konsthall. The dual Swedish-English catalogue includes amongst the two essays, a beautifully written text on the show by Bonniers Konsthall's Director Sara Arrhenius.
Klingberg’s immersive installations evoke a fraught mysticism of consumer culture. Themes in her work stretch across the opposing thought systems of scientific knowledge, folk beliefs, popular culture and divergent cultural spheres to illustrate the complicated relationships their contradictory messages have over us.
Her video, Spar Loop, degrades the logo of a commercial Swedish brand ‘Spar’ into a non-identifiable, mind-numbingly mesmerising kaleidoscope of video art.
Seven Eleven Twist dodges copyright restrictions by swirling an unidentifiable, smoke-like reproduction of the Seven Eleven logo up the wall, whilst anamorphically revealing the ‘truth’ of the logo’s identity in its reflection in a mirror ball. The mirror ball is one used to hide security cameras in retail outlets, the ‘all seeing, all knowing’ omnipresence of retail culture.
In Brand New View she creates a quasi-oriental pattern engraved in orange on self-adhesive plastic film. Upon closer inspection the almost hypnotic arabesques are seen to be composed of the corporate logos of discount stores.
The oriental patterns of Brand New View reflect onto mirror-surfaced Plexiglass quotations by that doctor of Ayervedic medicine ‘Deepak Chopra’. The interrelationship of these two works creates a juxtaposition in which, to quote Arrhenius ‘New Age spirituality’s promise of corporal and spiritual well being merges with everyday consumer culture. They both seem to be quite agreed about what they are promising: a state in which nothing rubs or is uncomfortable – the possibility of total, rapid satisfaction of needs, accessible to everyone".
In Supernova, Interior Collapse, Klingberg has created a massive star shaped sculpture, however the surface of this celestial body is covered with everyday furnishing materials like faux ‘authentic’ rugs, imitation wooden flooring, and manufactured ‘handmade’ stucco, materials that pretend to be more valuable and unique than they really are.
Further works are discussed in detail in the text. Without spoiling the entire publication, I will provide you with a taste of the quality artistic analysis to be found in the catalogue’s texts. Here, Sara Arrhenius links Klingberg’s works to the changing relationship contemporary art now has to what was once its ‘outsider’ status.
“The growing array of designed objects and today’s human-created environments constitute an intricate system of codes, messages and ideologies, of which art is a part, existing in dialogue with it. The boundary between art and design is often drawn along the line of utility value and usefulness. But the boundary becomes increasingly elastic when the difference between the values of the different objects depends not so much on their usefulness as on their brightness, seductiveness or power of rhetorical persuasion. Design, like art, becomes part of an increasingly sophisticated economy of signs, in which new forms of interchange between previously distinct disciplines – art, design and fashion, are created. It is, thus, not enough to describe Klingberg’s works as a critique of today’s label fetishism. If we take a closer look at the working methods and attitudes used in contemporary art, we are compelled to ask ourselves whether art is on the way to abandoning the outsider status that has clung to it since the days of early modernism. Or more correctly: it poses the awkward question of whether that outside is any longer possible. The critical aspect of Klingberg’s art does not lie in pointing things out and repudiating them. In a much more devious way she draws the viewer into a sense of fascination. We find ourselves in a situation in which we get to feel the power of the images and thoughts that she is testing out and exploring. She makes it very obvious that it is difficult, nowadays, to talk about an outside and an alternative, we are all accomplices in the consumer culture that constitutes the raw material for her art, whether we like it or not.”
This professionally bound publication is a worthwhile addition to the library of anyone with a keen interest in contemporary installation practice. It’s definitely a valuable resource for contemporary art education courses.
50 full colour pages document the featured 7 installation artworks. The book can be purchased from the gallery. http://www.bonnierskonsthall.se/en/Books/
Gunilla Klingberg is an artist based in Stockholm. She was educated at Konstfack, University College of Arts, Crafts and Design and at RMI-Beghs, both in Stockholm. Internationally renowned, Gunilla Klingberg’s recent exhibitions include the Istanbul Biennial 2007, KIASMA, Helsinki, 2004 and P.S.1/MoMA, New York 2006.
Bonniers Konsthall opened in the autumn of 2006 and is a venue for Swedish and international contemporary art. By inviting a guest artist every year, Bonniers Konsthall enables the creation of new works. The artist is offered the opportunity to work on site in our guest studio and produce exhibitions exclusively for Bonniers Konsthall. Gunilla Klingberg is the fourth guest artist at Bonniers Konsthall. Previous guest artists include Michael Beutler (2008), Monica Bonvicini (2007) and Gabriel Lester (2006).