MMP: Elin Wikström

14.11 2000 – 29.11 2000


Since the middle of the 1990s, Elin Wikström has become known for her staged social situations, whose point of departure is people and how they interact with and against each other. The creation of art objects has consequently been superseded in favour of these “activated situations” as the artist herself calls them.

For a sculpture project in the university town of Münster in the summer of 1998, she arranged, together with another artist, a cycle club where one got the opportunity to relearn something basic, something that has become “second nature”. The bicycles available at the clubhouse were constructed in such a way that when one pedalled forwards, one travelled backwards. A risky and challenging activity, which posed questions about habits and what may be called natural, about contemporary social characteristics, which are often transitory rather than permanent, and about ideas of progress.

Elin Wikström’s art often takes place in the midst of reality and aims to be part of it. She arranges psycho-social and epistemological experiments where she herself as well as others participate. There is a clear element of anarchistic questioning in her work, a criticism of received opinions and ways of working. For instance, in 1993 she spent three weeks in bed in a self-service grocery. The work, “What would happen if everyone did this?” was part of a group show, “ICA Malmborgs” in Malmö, and took the form of the artist lying in a bed in the midst of the grocery’s merchandise and customers for the duration of the exhibition. This (for herself) restful passivity became a protest against society’s demand for order, rationality and utilitarianism. Daydreams replaced efficiency in a very concrete way.

Many of Elin Wikström’s works involve economic systems, money values – but also other values such as trust and care. “Rebecca waits for Anna, Anna waits for Cecilia, Cecilia waits for Marie”, which was purchased by Moderna Museet in 1999, consists of around 20 women, who without speaking, sat and waited for each other for 15 minutes at a time over a period of four weeks in the exhibition space, Rum, in Malmö. The work alludes to how women traditionally have devoted a significant part of their lives to waiting: waiting to become beautiful, waiting for Mr Right, to have children, etc. But here, waiting is instead an expression of the trust one has that the person who is to relieve or replace one will actually appear.

Elin Wikström has recently become interested in role-playing, and has made Barbie dolls into the main characters in a work where the exhibition space is transformed into a playroom for both children and adults. Together with the visitors, the artist examines the social norms around the couple relationship and the nuclear family.

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