In the center of the Turbine Hall at Moderna Museet Malmö, visitors encounter an enlarged replica of Axel Nordell’s play sculpture “The Apple” that has been permanently placed in Pildammsparken in Malmö since 1972. Among the new works are also objects made in papier-maché, illuminated signs, and a blown-up photograph of an anarchistically oriented children’s workshop. While together forming an installation, these new pieces also create an environment, imbued with memories and associations, for the other works on display.
The Social is a title that captures the essence of Annika Eriksson’s artistic practice. Throughout her career she has been exploring the ways in which we organize ourselves into societies and communities, and also how we relate to other living beings. During the production process of The Social, Annika Eriksson got inspired by Wikipedia’s definition of the term Social, as something referring to “the interaction of organisms with other organisms and to their collective co-existence, irrespective of whether they are aware of it or not, and irrespective of whether the interaction is voluntary or involuntary.”
A number of the works exhibited in The Social, place themselves in the gaps that are created when social models fade into history before new ideas and visions have materialized. One example is the video In Preparation for a Psychodrama (2015), set in Folkets Park (The People’s Park) in the Swedish town of Grängesberg – which used to be a thriving mining community before its industries closed down. In the video, we encounter a group of local amateur actors who are making repeated attempts to create new meaning, in an environment shaped by ideals and visions of the past.
Throughout the exhibition, there is a predominant sensation of a gliding movement in time – between a past that is somehow still present and a future that already lurks in our consciousness. In one of Annika Eriksson’s most recent videos, Past Lives Selector (2016), we encounter two cosplayers that were commissioned by the artist to create personas in relation to an open-air history museum. Though they are both dressed in historical costumes, they appear oddly futuristic – like two medieval cyborgs.
Annika Eriksson’s long-running investigation into different forms of social interaction and organization also includes that between humans and other animals. This interestingly aligns her practice to the expanding field of Animal Studies. How do we perceive each other as humans and as animals? And how to we relate to other living organisms? In the videos I am the dog that was always here (loop) (2013), and The Community (2010), we encounter a group of stray dogs that has been displaced to the outskirts of an expanding city, and a group of cats that has previously lived as pets but now live together in a park. Both works address the gentrification and associated sanitation of our cities, while also focusing on the emergence of informal social sites that in turn have generated new modes of existence. The animals portrayed here are very much present in their own right, but also function as anthropomorphic protagonists in narratives on social change.
Annika Eriksson was born in Malmö but has been living in Berlin since 2002. She is one of Sweden’s most internationally acclaimed artists, and her work has been shown around the world, for example at the Hayward Gallery and Gasworks in London, Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, SALT in Istanbul, Hamburger Bahnhof and Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art in San Francisco, as well as at biennials in Istanbul, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Dakar, Vienna and Venice. In Sweden Annika Eriksson’s art has been exhibited at the Moderna Museet, Tensta Konsthall, Malmö Art Museum, and Gothenburg Art Museum. She has also created works for BAC, IASPIS and Public Art Agency Sweden.
For more information about the exhibition, please see the booklet: Annika Eriksson: The Social (pdf)
Curator: Joa Ljungberg