photo of two standing boards in exhibition room

Matts Leiderstam, Reconstruction, 1989–2016 Photo: Tobias Fischer/Moderna Museet Bildupphovsrätt 2023

Artist Talk: Matts Leiderstam

A talk with the curator Asrin Haidari

18.4 2023


Meet the artist Matts Leiderstam in a talk with the curator Asrin Haidari, about the 1980s AIDS epidemic and how it is reflected in art. One of Leiderstam’s works is featured in the exhibition “Sleepless Nights – From the 1980s in the Moderna Museet collection”.

In 1989, Matts Leiderstam made four monochrome paintings with motifs from American gay porn movies, including “Leo&Lance” from 1983. The colours represent blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm, the cardinal fluids of the humoral theory in ancient Greek medicine.

25 years later, Leiderstam bought one of his own paintings from the series at an auction. He then renovated it and recreated the context in which they were painted, including both his own private history, the provenance of the works and facts about the lives of the two actors, Leo and Lance. Leiderstam also acquired a smaller painting made the same year, and together they form an installation titled “Reconstruction” (1989/2016).

The exhibition “Sleepless Nights – From the 1980s in the Moderna Museet Collection” demonstrates how art reflected important events that were seminal to the period. Towards the end of the decade, we were on the threshold of the internet era, the Berlin wall had fallen, and the over-heated financial market was building up to its collapse in the 1990s. In the arts, the aids crisis was also tangible, and many artists and cultural workers were deeply disturbed by the disease and the ensuing homophobia, including the artists David Wojnarowicz and Robert Mapplethorpe, both active in the USA, who are represented in this exhibition.