Fia Backström and Andreas Eriksson are two of the most interesting and prominent Swedish artists of their generation. Both operate on a conceptual basis, while each engages in different methods and media, resulting in divergent projects. The works of both artists relate to Venice and the Biennale. Fia Backström’s work will be tied to the structure of national representation within the Venice Biennale. Andreas Eriksson’s work relates to the Nordic Pavilion, which plays with the notion of indoors and outdoors, nature and architecture, with its two glass walls and trees growing indoors.
Commissioner: Ann-Sofi Noring
Curator: Magnus af Petersens
Assistant curator: Jennie Fahlström
The Nordic Pavilion is supported by The Barbro Osher Pro Suecia Foundation and Dataton.
Fia Backström and Andreas Eriksson, 2011.
Photo: Albin Dahlström/Moderna Museet
Fia Backström’s work for the Nordic pavilion is constructed around a series of dialogues. For her project, Backström will focus on the Biennale structure of nations as fenced singularities. Backström will renegotiate the terms of national representation and territoriality present in the Giardini.
Backström will engage her international network in conversations, including the artists of certain pavilions, to locate traditional, national bronze statues of ordinary men or women, whose iconography create nation “narratives” and senses of identity. These conversations will begin with people connected to the given country. The collected data will crystallise in a final decision, together with the artists who represent the specific national pavilion, to choose the representative bronze.
Backström’s work takes on a diagnostic and propositional engagement with the construction of social agency. Backström’s employment of display mechanisms provokes the interrelations between pedagogical methods, modes of corporate address, and political rhetoric.
For the exhibition, a surrogate for each chosen sculpture will be produced as a digital reproduction printed onto a metal cut-out. These works will elicit the trope of the participatory cut-out found in tourist locations and entertainment parks. Metallic information placards will accompany each cut-out. The placement of each sculpture will be decided by a negotiation with the artists in proximity to their pavilion. Guided tours and audio guides will be available at a specified information hub where additional material will be on display. These guides will suggest connections between the sculptures and the social processes that generated the work.
Three trees grow inside the Nordic Pavilion, their trunks going straight through openings in the roof, and two of the pavilion walls consist mainly of glass, evoking a playful interaction between outside and inside in the architecture, a facet that Andreas Eriksson captures in his prospective presentation of paintings and sculptures. His tall paintings of tree trunks, measuring nearly four metres, which will be exhibited in the Nordic Pavilion in Venice, are imbued with seductive beauty and ambiguous metaphors. Many paintings have the qualities of windows with reflections of light, looking out to a rather abstract nature.
Three low, wide platforms on the floor in the middle of the room serve as plinths for the sculptures, bronze casts of birds that were killed when they crashed into his studio windows, confused by the reflections in the glass, which they mistook for real nature. Other sculptures are casts of mole hills from the artist’s garden.
Although there are connections to the architecture of Nordic Pavilions and the garden outside, Andreas Eriksson’s art is also strongly linked to the place where it is created. His studio near his home in Medelplana near Hällekis is beautifully situated by lake Vänern in Sweden. Despite his relation to the countryside surrounding his home and studio, he can hardly be regarded as a landscape painter in the traditional sense, but is an exceedingly contemporary artist, with a conceptual approach. The process of arriving at a method and a theme for a group of works is just as important as the finished result.
Shadow Paintings is a series of paintings with a format resembling standard house windows. They are grey, with the silhouette of human figures appearing as dark shadows that seem to bleed through the grey paint, which is also how they were made. Titles such as Car Passing at 20:03 on the 10th of November 2003 reveal something about the subject matter; a car passing swiftly along the road outside, for a short moment throwing shadows on the inside wall. The brief shadows were photographed and in many ways the paintings share the qualities of photographs.
The partnership between the three nations sharing the Nordic Pavilion in Venice – Sweden, Finland and Norway – will try a new concept for the next three biennials. The previous requirement that all three countries should be represented by artists will be set aside to enable solo exhibitions. Sweden, which is responsible for the Nordic Pavilion in 2011, will thus be presenting two separate projects by artists Fia Backström and Andreas Eriksson.