Linnéa Sjöberg – Oppositional Cyborg

This sentence precedes a quote that – without this sentence – would have been the first words of the essay you are reading. They would have tinted the text and guided you, dear reader:

There is a hierarchy in the arts: decorative art at the bottom, and the human form at the top. Because we are men.
– Le Corbusier and Amédée Ozenfant, 1918

Not so long ago, this quote by two proto­Modernists may have constituted the beginning of a text. Even more than that, it may have been followed by Sigmund Freud’s assertion that the “unique” contribution of women to civilisation is weaving, a decorative art per se. In his lecture on “Femininity” from 1933, the late psychoanalyst propagated that in weaving, women imitate how nature conceals their “genital lack” with pubic hair.

This essay is on Linnéa Sjöberg’s latest body of work, in which weaving plays a pivotal role. A year and a half ago, Sjöberg bought a loom and ransacked her parent’s house for old pieces of clothing. She took what she could find as long as it was black, from her favourite disco dress during her teenage years, to an old umbrella, to her grandmother’s last skirt. Back at her loom, Sjöberg wove the materials into a 15­metre long quilt with only 30 cm of the fabric visible at a time, due to the way the apparatus is built. The work titled Four Generations of Darkness became an elongated, cadavre exquis ­a metaphor for separate yet interwoven generations and biographies.

As art historian Lucy Lippard pointed out in 1976 with regard to Eva Hesse’s work, “tying, sewing, knotting, wrapping, binding, knitting,” have long been regarded as “female” activities ­and hence less valued than other “male” work. Textile art was perhaps most associated with the keepers of the domestic home, a dubious privilege only, if at all, applicable to white­middle and upper­class women. However, textiles have since also become a symbol for subverting this notion. In the banners of the Suffragette resistance, the “primitive” and “natural” connotations projected onto textiles by the West were overthrown and artists like Eva Hesse transcended the entrenched amalgam between fabrics and “women’s work” through repetition and ritual.

Working away to the monotonous, wooden­clunking sound of the apparatus, weaving is a physically exhausting labour. The compulsive use of the body in everrepeated movements, Lippard goes on, can also “be a guard against vulnerability; a bullet­proof vest of closely knit activity [that] can be woven against fate”. Sjöberg does not create comfy soft­on­the skin garments, but kneads together personal materials loaded with history, some of which border on the abject. Her quilts Layers of Shit, for instance, consist of yellowish rubber stripes cut and torn from an old mattress in the artist’s studio. God knows what happened on the bed before, and where the stains stem from.

Another series of work is made from embossed parchment, cow skins. Sjöberg’s engraved tattoos from her own body onto shine­through and black leathers. While some of the works are made by the artist herself, others are produced by a company that serves luxury brands like LVMH. Sjöberg conflates high and low in the same way she interweaves art and life. After her all­in performances of first being a business woman and then a tattoo artist for several years, she is now a weaver. In weaving, the inside and outside are blurred. As critical studies researcher Sarat Maharaj wrote in 1991, textile art cites “established genres and their edges as it cuts across and beyond them” to throw out of joint “handed­down notions of art practice / genre /gender”.

Sjöberg’s weavings – just like her parchment works – mess up the borders between the inside and outside, high and low, art and life, male and female. Her incisions penetrate the skin and her fierce engravings leave burnt scars on and in the body. Her threads are entangled inseparably in epic tapestries, similar to her total interweaving of art and life. Weaving, as Donna Haraway once put it, is for “oppositional cyborgs”.

– Stefanie Hessler

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Evan Roth — Kites & Websites



Belenius/Nordenhake is proud to present our fourth collaboration with Evan Roth, born 1978, Okemos, MI, USA. For this occasion we will produce an artist book co-published with Aksioma featuring a text by Domenico Quaranta, which will be launched on the opening night of Stockholm Art Week, Tuesday 19/4/2016 18–20:00.

Kites and Websites collects a selection of works developed along the last year in the framework of the Internet Landscapes project, Evan Roth’s ongoing investigation into the physical infrastructure of the internet: a research that brought him to study the global submarine fiber optic cable network, and to do pilgrimages to various submarine fiber optic cable landing locations all around the world: from the UK to Sweden and New Zealand.These locations, where the national or local network infrastructure actually joins the global internet, allowing people to instantly communicate with the rest of the world, are often remote locations, not easy to reach and not meant to be visited. The nature is wild, and signs announcing the presence of the cable are placed to be seen from the sea, not by anybody walking on the beach, or the cliffs. In other words, they provide a beautiful opportunity for landscape painting.

And it is as a Romantic painter that Evan Roth approaches these places, even if his tools are a little bit different from those of Turner and alikes. He uses an infrared camera to shoot pictures and videos, and he records audio using an instrumental transcommunication device that he has custom built, that captures ambient sounds and scans radio frequencies at intervals regulated by the artist’s heart rate. This recording, though, is not made for documentary purposes. As a romantic “wanderer”, Roth travels to these Internet Landscapes to experience them, and portrays them to capture their essence: “For me, visiting the Internet physically is an attempt to repair a relationship that has changed dramatically as the Internet becomes more centralized, monetized and a mechanism for global government spying. Through understanding and experiencing the Internet’s physicality, one comes to understand the network not as a mythical cloud, but as a human made and controlled system of wires and computers.”

Kites and Websites are the forms that this landscape painting takes in the exhibition. Kites are a reference to childhood innocence, but also to the history of communications: their hexagonal shape reminds the first patent drawing of the internet, and the hexagonal kites used by Guglielmo Marconi to send radio waves. Websites are actually “web sites”, places on the network that mirror both visually and conceptually the physical places they portray, in a complexity of layers and references that makes the experience of the project richer as long as we dig deep, but that doesn’t prevent us to enjoy it as a simple aesthetic experience: as a exercise in immersion, contemplation and slowness.

The Internet Landscapes project is currently part of the Black Chamber exhibition (Skuc Gallery, Ljubljana) and of the Sydney Biennale, and has been awarded a production grant as part of the Masters & Servers European co-operation project. More info:

/Domenico Quaranta

Evan Roth is an American artist based in Paris whose practice visualizes and archives culture through unintended uses of technologies. Creating prints, sculptures, videos, and websites, his work explores the relationship between misuse and empowerment and the effect that philosophies from hacker communities can have when applied to digital and non-digital systems. His work is in the public collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Israel Museum, and has been exhibited at the CentrePompidou, the Kunsthalle Wien and the Tate. He co-founded the arts organizations Graffiti Research Lab and the Free Art & Technology Lab (F.A.T.). Awards in recognition of his work include the Golden Nica from Prix Ars Electronica, Rhizome/The New Museum commissions and the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award.

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Welcome to the launch of Transparent Movement, an artist book by Julius Göthlin. The book is published by Moon Space Books in 150 numbered copies. The release is accompanied by a small selection of new works that have never previosly been shown, but make up the content of the book.

Transparent Movement

While writing this text for Julius Göthlin in connection with the release of his book Transparent Movement, I ended up getting stuck on the idea of inner peace.

I told Julius that his paintings open up an idea of serenity much like the backdrops used in New Age and Mindfulness movements with their imagery of space and vastness, which would presumably lead to a clear mind. I showed him meditation videos on Youtube and discussed the different images. The idea of space brings out anxiety in me personally, which has to do with endlessness without constraint.

I’ve done yoga for about ten years, but I’ve never used it for clearing my head. It has been a way of challenging my body instead. Being calm is a bit foreign to me. Instead I let outer problems and procrastination take over my entire headspace. Trying to break this cycle, I would look at images of Julius’ cloudy, almost magical paintings to see if I could feel that mindfulness and be able to write. It was as if not only being calm was foreign but also pictures of serenity seemed to have the opposite effect on me.

During this time a friend introduced me to Ultimate Fighter, a reality show where MMA-fighters compete to get a contract with the UFC. I mean, I’m not an MMA-fan, I don’t follow the sport, but it kept my mind off writing and put me at ease in my procrastination. One of the contestants really stood out: Jonathan Brookins, a yogi who meditates daily. In the beginning I couldn’t really see why HE would win anything, because deep down I’ve always felt that meditation is quackery. While watching seven hours (with small breaks to buy food and smoke cigarettes) of this show, we would guesstimate the winners of each fight in each episode and I would never pick Brookins. Well, I was wrong… It was like this guy had control of his focus through yoga and meditation. I felt confused. The idea of inner peace, that endlessness and vastness of being in one’s own head, is scary.

There is a duality here. Opening up one’s mind to emptiness leads to being more focused. But how does one get rid of the anxiety that comes with the idea of infinity? Julius Göthlin captures this paradox in his paintings. They move with such ease and have a calming effect in their speckled blues, but they also capture a feeling of endless expansion, just like space. That ambiguity is the reason why I will probably never give in to mindfulness.

Text by Alida Ivanov

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Sophie Tottie – Book Release. On Saturday, January 20th, between 15:00–18:00, our downstairs showroom will host a small exhibition for the launch of Sophie Tottie´s new catalogue “Material Marks (as far as I can reach)”, made after her exhibition at Renata Fabbri‘s arte contemporanea, Milan, 2014. It contains a lengthy interview in English and Italian by editor Daria Filardo, who also curated the exhibition.

The 72-paged book was designed by Jöran Ramällen, contains photographs by Carl Henrik Tillberg, Helen Toresdotter and Sophie Tottie, and published by Propexus in an edition of 1000.

We are also happy to announce our forthcoming participation at The Armory Show, New York, March 3–6 2016, where we are showing a solo booth with Sophie Tottie at the Presents section on Pier 94, with an accompanying text by Jacquelyn Davis.

In other news, in November the Museum of Modern Art in Stockholm opened a rehaning of the collection featuring the painting “Vi förblir stenhårda” (We Remain As Hard As Stone”), 1991, that was aquired in 1994, but has never been shown at the museum previously. It is presented in the innermost room along with works by Etel Adnan, Joe Bradley, Günter Förg, Martin Kippenberger, Jutta Koether,Wolfgang Tillmans, Rosemarie Trockel and Tottie’s previous student Fredrik Vaerslev.

Sophie Tottie also recently finished a major public installations in Uppsala and at the Linköping University. More information here:

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Evan Roth — Silhouettes


Evan Roth — Silhouettes. Belenius/Nordenhake is proud to present new works by Evan Roth in our downstairs Project Space, and you are cordially invited to join us for drinks on Thursday 19/11 18–20:00. Born in 1978, Evan Roth is an American artist based in Paris whose practice visualizes and archives culture through unintended uses of technologies. Creating prints, sculptures, videos and websites, his work explores the relationship between misuse and empowerment and the effect that philosophies from hacker communities can have when applied to digital and non-digital systems. Roth’s work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art NYC and has been exhibited at various institutions, including the Centre Pompidou, the Kunsthalle Wien, the Tate and the front page of Youtube. He has received numerous awards, including the Golden Nica from Prix Ars Electronica, Rhizome/The New Museum commissions and the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award, and he is involved in the upcoming show “Electronic Superhighway (2016 – 1966)” at Whitechapel Art Gallery, London United Kingdom from January 29th to May 15th, 2016. “​The Silhouette series utilizes the 18th century technique of the same name by representing a subject as an outline cut into a single piece of solid black paper. The technique was originally conceived as a time saving measure (e.g. John Miers “the 3 minute sittings” circa 1800), however more recent studies have shown that the silhouette is the most immediately recognisable and identifiable shape of an individual. Although the technique most commonly depicts a person in profile, it is applied here towards the proportions and shape of the modern day Internet. The individual compositions are composed from pieces of the artist’s own Internet browsing data and based on standardized internet advertising proportions, drawing into question whether these proportions are in reaction to or are a driving force behind the general shape of the web. Similar to its 18th century counterpart, the series eschews the content of the subject, leaving only the familiar outlines to represent the character.”​ /Evan Roth The Silhouette has been exhibited at: Carroll Fletcher Gallery, Pencil / Line / Eraser, London, UK Gallery Niklas Belenius, Memory, Stockholm, Sweden, 2014 Ezra and Cecile Zilkha Gallery, Intellectual Property Donor, Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, 2014 XPO Gallery, View In Room, Paris, France, 2013

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Based on a true story.
Based on true actual events that may appear out of order.

Egyptian Noir at the brink of 2016.
An investigation in the museum of paranoia.
Eighteen motives. All but dead ends.

Platform 1 or 2 / Khamsin retreat
En route Presidential
New year, old Salat
Trapology / once a safe house
Scrub of the Sudan
Death of a trickster / RIP Omar Sharif
Wash away Jetty
Paper airline / a wet-lease voyage
River Nile to Le Caire
Urman vapor
Port of Esna 3
Mr Swellam’s very last client X
Snack break / The Mokattam rendezvous
The Cultural Attaché
Morning shower / it runs deep
Cleopatra’s 2nd exit / grotto
The Cataract affair(s)
Labyrint of Mövenpick

Axel Petersén (born 1979, Stockholm) is a visual artist and filmmaker who has made a variety of films, videos and video installations that have been shown in art galleries, institutions, film festivals and cinemas worldwide, e.g.; Gallery Niklas Belenius, Dumbo Arts Center NYC, Venice Film Festival, BAAD Gallery Tel Aviv, Arkitektur Museum Stockholm, Favorite Goods Los Angeles, Palais de Tokyo, Galleri Arnstedt Östra Karup, Museum Reina Sofia, GOOD TV, Berlin International Filmfestival, DETOUR Cairo, Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Toronto Film Festival, Galleri Bastard Stockholm and OVNI Barcelona.

Axel Petersén is educated at FAMU, the Czech film school, The Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm and the Mountain School of Arts in Los Angeles. He is currently based in Stockholm.

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On 16 January, the artist duo Bigert & Bergström open their exhibition The Freeze at Belenius/Nordenhake in Stockholm. The exhibtion
documents the artists’ rescue action to preserve the southern peak of Mount Kebnekaise, a glacier that has been continuously melting for several decades, which has now come to threaten its status as Sweden’s highest point.

A sculptural weather station with four video monitors showcases the work, from the swaddling of the mountain peak in reflective gold fabric, to the path of the meltwater as it descends into one of the world’s biggest mines deep underground. The core work of the exhibition, “Rescue Blanket for Kebnekaise,” is a full-scale replica of the covered mountain peak, but split down the middle so that visitors can walk through it and discover the segmented interior of the glacier, of which only a shell remains.

In addition, there is a memorial sculpture of the southern peak as it looked in 2014, in reflective stainless steel. Alongside these sculptures, one of the artist duo’s Inverted Space Molecules – with spherical 360° panorama pictures from Kebnekaise – is presented. Also on show is a new series of photographic glass montages with material from the project of blanketing the peak.

“The rapid melting of the southern peak was front-page news in the summer of 2014,” Bigert & Bergström say. “If it continues at the same pace, the peak will no longer be Sweden’s highest point. Our intervention to prevent the glacier’s melting is a symbolic geo-engineering performance that represents humanity’s ability to change the climate for better or for worse.”

The Freeze is the third in a series of exhibitions in which Bigert & Bergström investigate mankind’s desire to control the climate, the weather and their own living conditions through geo-engineering. Previous exhibitions in the series include The Storm (2012) and The Drought (2013).

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Willem Andersson presents a selection of new paintings and sculptures in his latest solo exhibition “It Came Back and Larger” for reasons others may not ever pinpoint. That is Andersson’s trick—exercising his power to present work which seldom relates to the actual. There is no guarantee that his stimuli will enliven, influence or even bless those who stumble upon them. This Delphic collection mirrors and refracts, to an extent, previous work by the artist, as he highlights a coincidental connection to the poetry of Elizabeth Clark Wessel.

Andersson’s oeuvre cajoles with the cryptic and parenthetical; what is unsaid, implied or hidden can  hold more worth than what obviously stands—especially, if the factual proves to be hypocritical or torturous. There is value in the uncanny, if even oddly wicked or thwarted in its surreal composition. Do the times beg for a new witchcraft? For better or worse, the tripwire between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ has been set off. The manic and rare roam within the walls of the white cube. Andersson’s obscurantist graphics fuel a preternatural alternative; it is the abnormal that we lust after—the clinamen, anomaly, freak. His new works present voluptuous figures suffocating in an oily, ebony substance, and other shapes drown in bulbous gold. Certain globular organisms are destined to be terminally alone, and others cling together—slick limbs bound in a macabre permutation of Henri Matisse’s La Danse (1909).

As in the poetic verse of Jorge Luis Borges, Arthur Rimbaud and John Ashbery, the conclusion is never as remarkable as the scene which stages the phantasmagorical framework, with words crafted to allow for a hushed soliloquy or unreal tension. Relayed via voice or with visual catalysts such as Andersson’s faceless docile crowds, his fertile towers, suited phantoms of anonymity, eclipsing planets, ethereal kings, spiral staircases to Hell & back, silent sirs, askew séances, doll house dimensions, alien soldiers donning shimmery medallions once territorializing escapist realms and uneasy nations never to exist, or conventional sheep infinitely swayed by the herd—his archive of feral panoramas entice those intrigued by raw possibility. Objects and faces appear in other works in a layered, meta-referential manner.

In these works, words easily become image, or vice versa, in an ekphrastic interplay of  transmutation. One may attempt to enter a room and remain intact upon exit, but it’s not recommended to shun someone’s tenacity. Usually painful or awkward, one may gaze upon the sublime and realize that returning to the usual grind or safe pattern is no longer feasible. Art remains as dangerous as religion; similar to its heavenly verse, a creation’s impact on an arbitrary entity is not guaranteed to placate. A once harmless image or view can easily trigger a response for justifiable revolt. A nominal shift may ignite magnified consequences in a more complex system—i.e., The Butterfly Effect. An artwork can be noted as natural phenomenon, similar to the wind’s direction or a virus, yet Andersson’s exhibited inscape resembles a shiv. Works initially embedded within one’s dream state are precarious; they illuminate (carve?) lucid pathways once overlooked or masked.

In The Gift of Death, Jacques Derrida refers to the philosophy of Jan Patoĉka who relates secrecy or ‘the mystery of the sacred’ to responsibility: “ ‘The demonic is to be related to responsibility; in the beginning such a relation did not exist’ […] the demonic is originally defined as irresponsibility, or, if one wishes, as nonresponsibility. It belongs to a space in which there has not yet resounded the injunction to respond; a space in which one does not yet hear the call to explain oneself [répondre de soi], one’s actions or one’s thoughts, to respond to the other and answer for oneself before the other.” Let us say that in this space before responding, there exists justification for a possessed rapture, for liberty, where the ‘self’ comes before the ‘other.’ Unabashed self-love is a prerequisite to enjoy Andersson’s abstruse aesthetic; one who succumbs to the interfering sentiments of others may never be affected by the image or object. The artist flirts with secrecy; he toys with coded visuals which offer access to a once private wilderness. But the ‘welcome’ falls short for those chained to responsibilities—for the trapped. Like death, sleep is a gift. Andersson’s netherworld motivates the living to migrate, hunt and find—so as to return full-force.

– Jacquelyn Davis


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