When the Museum was founded in 1958, the whole art scene seemed to revolve around Paris and New York. That is no longer so. Today, no city has the same central position on the art scene. Artists are active in many different locations at the same time, showing their work in constellations that shift our customary notions of centre and periphery.
The impact of the early history of modern art is still deep today. Therefore, we have been working actively to highlight alternative histories in relation to the narrative of the former art metropolises. With acquisitions for the collection, lectures and symposiums, we are opening the Museum to a new, larger world. This ambition also informs our selection of temporary exhibitions. Other, and different artistic geographies than before will be claiming attention.
Check this space for news on the latest developments:
Art – donations and acquisitions
Georges Adéagbo, Benin, The Birth of Stockholm, 2014
Georges Adéagbo’s artistic approach is to explore how the viewer’s cultural framework charges objects and events with meaning. In the exhibition The Birth of Stockholm he “translates” the Sun Dog Painting in Stockholm Cathedral in the Old Town into a wood relief that he commissioned from an artist in Cotonou, his home town in Benin. It is presented in a gigantic installation, together with a mass of other images and objects bought at flea markets in Stockholm or found in the street. Georges Adéagbo also participated in the exhibition After Babel at Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 2015.
Etel Adnan, Lebanon, Sans titre, 1973–2014
Politics, aesthetics and war often feature in the works of the author and professor of philosophy Etel Adnan, along with a critique against intolerance. These four paintings are abstract images of shapes that also appear as landscapes with light and shadow as defining elements. They were shown in the Museum’s exhibitions Madhat Kakei’s Abstract Cabinet and After Babel in 2015, and also in the exhibition Towards a Larger World at Moderna Museet in Malmö in 2016.
Meriç Algün, Turkey/Sweden, Ö (The Mutual Letter), 2011, Becoming European, 2012
Meriç Algün has made several works that discuss identity, cultures, languages and bureaucracies. In the drawn triptych Becoming European, dates have been stamped in columns, signifying the artist’s EU arrival and departure dates. They are printed in different colours, representing the status she was given by the Migration Agency, for instance, “temporary residence permit” or “pending”.
Ö (The Mutual Letter) is a dictionary and an audio work based on 1,270 words that are pronounced differently in Swedish and Turkish despite having the same spelling and meaning.
Kader Attia, France/Algeria, Open Your Eyes, 2010
Open Your Eyes is a slide show installation comparing the Western concept of repairing the human body with the concept of repairing artefacts from non-Western cultures. The images show portraits of veterans from the First World War, a visual narrative about destruction and reconstruction suggestive of the restoration of objects from Africa.
The pictures are arranged as a comparative slide show, presenting a powerful critique of how colonialism and modernism have been hand-in-glove throughout the 20th century. The work was featured in the exhibitions After Babel at Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 2015, and Towards a Larger World at Moderna Museet Malmö in 2016.
Tala Madani, Iran/USA, Morris Men, 2012
In the solo show Rip Image at Moderna Museet Malmö and Stockholm in 2013, Tala Madani commented on the complex and fragile masculinity in a society where women are absent. Her bizarre drawings, paintings and animations that oscillate between abstraction and figuration explore how human phenomena and events express the contemporary zeitgeist.
Rivane Neuenschwander, Brazil, Word/World, 2001
In the video Word/World, Rivane Neuenschwander (in collaboration with Cao Guimarães) filmed ants dragging and carrying small slips of paper with the word “word” on one side and “world” on the other. The macro perspective reveals to viewers not only a new scale but also an extraordinary life resembling a kind of social structure.
Human logic tells us that ants are unlikely to understand the meaning of the words they are carrying. But they are about to build a colony with them, which could be seen as a message to us humans that we could also manage to live together regardless of language and ethnicity.
The work was shown in the group exhibition After Babel at Moderna Museet Stockholm in 2015.
Gabriel Orozco, Mexico, Untitled, 1994–2017
Gabriel Orozco alternates freely between sculpture, photography, painting, drawing and installation, using all these mediums to portray the idea of the transient or eternal. Sometimes, this is very clear, in the form of a skeleton or skull. But even his more abstract, veritably geometrical works convey the idea.
Historically, geometry represents eternity. Orozco’s circles, semi-circles and quarter-circles, in patterns resembling diagrams, are painted on plastic film, photocopies, or airline tickets. Banal materials that are easily disposable meet infinite, divine geometry. These works were shown in his solo exhibition Natural Motion at Moderna Museet Stockholm in 2014.
Atsuko Tanaka, Japan, Sakuhin (Work), 1955/2011
Atsuko Tanaka is one of Japan’s most unique and experimental modern artists. In 1955, she joined the radical Osaka-based Gutai group, which combined performance, painting and explorations of chance, time and space. The replica of Tanaka’s installation is a sharp cerise rayon fabric that is kept in perpetual motion by an electric table fan on the floor, illustrating the idea of how everything in life is in continuous flux.
Rirkrit Tiravanija, Thailand, 2000–2013
Rirkrit Tiravanija’s artistic practice is characterised by social commitment combined with ethical questions. In 1990, instead of showing art, he served Pad Thai to visitors at a gallery in New York, and repeated this on several occasions around the world, with different dishes.
Tiravanija has increasingly ignored the prescribed division between life and art, by creating spaces for playful activities in the public domain. In 1998, for instance, he initiated a project in Sanpatong, Thailand, where he gave vacant lots to locals and artists, to stage a social situation occupied by friends and colleagues.“Untitled 2000 (How it is possible…)” is a house built by Rirkrit Tiravanija in that place, and which is now in the Moderna Museet collection.
A series of photographs from the project by Tiravanija was shown in Towards a Larger World at Moderna Museet Malmö in 2016.
Adrián Villar Rojas, Argentina, Los Teatros de Saturno III, From the series Fantasma (Ghost), 2014 and From the series Pedazos de las personas que amamos (Pieces of the People We Love), 2007
A museum is based on the concept of classifying and preserving objects, but Adrián Villar Rojas’ works in organic materials can grow, change and decompose. Los Teatros de Saturno III is a large collection of remarkable objects – a sneaker, a melon peel filled with plaster, a chicken bone –in a state of metamorphosis that rebuts the notion of the finished work. Villar Rojas travels constantly with his team of assistants; he has compared his practice to a virus that lives in and off the art scene.
Haegue Yang, South Korea, Swedish Villa, 2012
Haegue Yang uses everyday objects, shaped as fragile, delicate sculptural installations, often incorporating Venetian blinds. In Korea, hand-woven bamboo blinds have protected women from view, while enabling them to look out. The home was traditionally a female domain, while the world outside belonged to the men. Yang uses the blind as a symbolic demarcation line for people living in the periphery, barred from the rest of society. This line can also denote the idea of national culture.
Swedish Villa is a sculptural installation consisting of metal Venetian blinds in yellow and blue, combined with electric cords and shining light bulbs. What makes a nation a home? The work was shown in the group exhibition After Babel at Moderna Museet Stockholm in 2015.
Akram Zaatari, Lebanon, Letter to a Refusing Pilot, 2013
Akram Zaatari explores subjective history writing through photographic documentation, letters, diaries, films and audio recordings. His video work Letter to a Refusing Pilot is based on an event that he heard about many times in his childhood. An Israeli fighter pilot was ordered to bomb a Lebanese target but refused.
The work was featured in Unfolding at Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 2015, a show resembling the excavations in the city of Saida, south of Beirut, where the artist was born and raised.
Several temporary exhibitions break the mould of the standard Western narrative. Read more about our exhibition initiatives in recent years here:
Towards a Larger World, 2016
Seminars, discussions, lectures
Lecture by Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro, director and chief curator of the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, in connection with the opening of Concrete Matters, 2018.
Lecture by Azadeh Fatehrad, 2016
The lecture series A Larger World, 2014–2015