”My name is Legion: for we are many”, an obsessed man replies when Jesus asks for his name (Mark 5:9). The Swedish artist Leif Elggren is also best described in plural. He is a dreamer, a state founder, a subverter, a man of enlightenment, a mystic, a thief and a king with a crown that earlier served as an air filter in a Saab from 1971.

Leif Elggren began his work in the mid 70s. Ever since then he has been busy crossing boundaries between various layers of reality and different artistic fields. His body of work extend over performances, graphics, music, painting, installations and collaborations with artists like Kent Tankered, Thomas Liljeberg, John Duncan and Carl Michael von Hausswolff.

The act of claiming is frequently recurring in Leif Elggren’s practice. He has claimed to be the originator and owner of the iconic combination of black and yellow stripes. Together with CM von Hausswolff he has announced death to be abolished in Elgaland-Vargaland. He has also declared himself king, not in order to take power, but to give it away to everyone; when crowning himself he encourages us all to follow his example and climb up on our thrones.

Leif Elggren’s artistic oeuvre includes works such as IDOL and Experiment with Dreams (with Thomas Liljeberg); The Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland (with CM von Hausswolff); A if I was my father; Talking to a Dead Queen; and Pluralis majestatis. In 2001 Leif Elggren represented Sweden together with CM von Hausswolff at the 49th Venice Biennale. ”A Dormitory for Celebrities” is his second solo show at Gallery Niklas Belenius.

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Gallery Niklas Belenius is pleased to announce the opening of Stockholm based artist Karl Norin’s first solo exhibition.

The show consist of a number of everyday objects such as worn down sheets, cheap rugs and colourful fake furs compressed and polished into a sleek surface and mounted onto wooden frames. Unlike many contemporary painters Norin is unbothered with tradition. He is occupied with how the objects fade in and out of abstraction and how his low-tech process of casting paintings enables random compositions in eternity. In contrast to the historical legacy of abstract painting Norin uses abstraction as a tool to evoke associations and to disclose new meanings and hidden patterns. Norin is showing us that just like pictures can be used to represent objects, objects can be used to represent pictures of objects that resembles an image of worn-down sheets, cheap rugs and colorful fake furs. Karl Norin was born 1982 in Fjällbacka. He received his Master from the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm this spring.

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In the new exhibition The Drought at Gallery Niklas Belenius, Bigert & Bergström continue investigating the escalating climatic threat using salt as a symbol of thirst.

Bigert & Bergström’s exhibition The Drought continues the duo’s investigation into various climatic threats and how man and earth respond to them.

The works originate from two research trips in the Mediterranean region; one to the ancient salt pans of Margherita di Savoia on the Adriatic coast of Italy and the other to the newly built desalination plant at the Llobregat River outside Barcelona in Spain.

The crystal photo sculptures, inverted space molecule and glass montages document the sites of these opposites where fresh water scarcity is the premise for production.

One facility subtracts the salt and the other extracts it from the enormous basin of the sea.

• Salt, once a precious commodity that got its name from the word salary because it was used as payment for Roman soldiers, is now often a substance associated with contaminated freshwater reservoirs. The two locations reflect both the desperation involved in tackling the recurring heat waves of the region and the newfound profits being made in a landscape of transition, said Mats Bigert.

A central piece of the exhibition is the Hourglass. The looped sculpture, blown out of proportion and filled with 100 kg of salt, conjures a deus ex machina suggesting that we have infinite time on our hands to grapple with the crisis of an atmosphere in flux.

During the summer of 2013 the exhibition was shown at the Castle of Barletta, as part of the larger project Watershed, organized by the Italian art organization Eclettica International.

In September-October 2013 parts of the project are being exhibited at Contexts in Paris. In January of 2014 the exhibition will be presented at Varberg Kunsthall in south of Sweden.

In connection with the exhibition, the artists have published The Drought, a 72-page field guide on the project. The book was designed by Björn Kusoffsky and the opening essay Sea Thirst and Fear was written by D.Graham Burnett.

The Drought is the continuation of a series of exhibitions initiated by the The Storm (2012), in which Bigert & Bergström explored twisters in the American mid-west. The remaining exhibitions in the series are The Freeze, The Flood and The Light.

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Signal to Noise


Communication is at the basis of cognition and the functioning of individuals and systems at large. Conveying a message that is understood leads to action and to reproducing the system that transmitted it. Cells constantly send and receive signals. If they do not send impulses, transmit them too late, or respond without having received a signal, the process results in disease or malfunction, triggering another regulatory process aimed at reconstitution.

Nevertheless, systems that constantly reproduce existing patterns impede change at a structural level. Just as language is a closed function based on rules that are nearly impossible to imagine differently from within, the looped feedback of sending and responding can hardly be interrupted productively. Purposefulness and self-regulatory systems from technophile future visions of the 20th century have led to self-management and structures that lack the faculty of imagination, but are aimed at reproducing the existing.

The exhibition “Signal to Noise” proposes a methodology that considers irrational successions, illogical communications, and fatal non sequiturs. It asks what happens if we intentionally do things in another than the logical or best possible way, disrupting the established forms of response, reaction, and linear communication. By not only stepping forward or backward, but sideward, the exhibition proposes to consider communication as untargeted, inconsistent, and non-decipherable, but open for contagion. In the same way that particles in quantum tunnelling can pass through barriers that they classically cannot surmount, it proposes defying constitutive principles and thereby becoming unreadable, unquantifiable, and unusable for the feedback-generating system.

* Signal to Noise is a measure used in science to indicate the quality of a desired signal and its proportional ratio compared to the level of background noise. It refers to the degree of useful information measured against disturbances and irrelevant data, be it in sound, biochemical signalling, or spam in online forums.

Stefanie Hessler

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Evan Roth — Memory


In 1969, the Whole Earth Catalog declared that “we are as gods and we might as well get good at it”. It aimed to provide the reader with tools “to shape his own environment, and share his adventure with whoever is interested”.

The artist Evan Roth works in the same anti-authoritarian do-it-yourself spirit as the 1960’s American counterculture. A spirit he shares with open source programmers as well as graffiti writers and Anonymous activists.

Roth’s works are tools for empowerment aiming to modify our physical and digital surroundings by misusing and parodying social structures, technical devices and popular culture phenomena. Among his projects is the transformation of an airport X-ray machine to a medium for sending messages to security staff, and a replica of the TED talks stage, which is open for everyone to use.

In Memory, Evan Roth stages a confrontation between human memory and the unconscious of the Internet.

Our technical devices remember much more than we want them to. The computer cache memories register all our movements in digital space. Roth turns these memories inside out and brings forth a manifold of hidden stories. Thereby he is letting us view ourselves with the indifferent eyes of technology.

The exhibition is an archive of an archive, with portraits of various person’s daily online activities, a 42 meter long vinyl print with four months of Internet history compressed to a sculpture, laser etchings and the thoughtful little book Since You Were Born, dedicated to the artist’s daughter. The book can be read in two opposite ways: as a beautiful story about the relation between a father and his new-born child, and as a reflexion of our intimate relationship with the web.

Memory is Paris-based artist Evan Roth’s first solo exhibition in Sweden. His work is in the permanent collection of Museum of Modern Art NY and has been exhibited at the Centre Pompidou, the Kunsthalle Wien, the Tate and the front page of Youtube. Roth is a co-founder of the Graffiti Research Lab and The F.A.T. Lab.

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Dante’s Purgatorio: a mountain divided into terraces of suffering and spiritual growth that lead up to its final destination, the Earthly Paradise. In this allegory Dante describes a climb and illuminates the nature of sin through examples of vice and virtue. For him all sin arises from love. The first three terraces consist of sins that are caused by the perversion of love through the harm of others. Pride is the first of these perversions.

There is a play with references and mythology at the center of Allen Grubesic’s first solo exhibition, Staring At The Sun, at Gallery Niklas Belenius. One of the works has the same title as the exhibition and consists of a series of brass hooks. Brass is a dubious and paradoxical gold-like metal, which has been used since prehistoric times. It has become a symbol of class for interior design connected to the Swedish bourgeoisie. Alternatively, brass is an icon of tackiness. Here it excels and signifies multiple layers of dreams, goals and hope. The title is a reference to both ambition and hubris. Icarus’ over-confidence made him the sun, dreaming and planning, while being blinded by it: unaware of the consequences.

Just like the uncertainty of Purgatorio, as a middle-point between Heaven and Hell, Allen Grubesic creates his own state of ambiguity. There are paradoxical sets of feelings being channeled: fear and courage, apathy and excitement, hopelessness and hope, failure and success, melancholy and hysteria. Pride stands out, being at the core of them all. Dante describes the first terrace as a place where proud souls purge their sin by being surrounded by beautiful sculptures expressing humility. Grubesic similarly forces us into contemplation by seeing ourselves in our ownsin when he surrounds us with it, bringing us into a state of self-confrontation.

Allen Grubesic (b. 1974) graduated from The Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm in 2003. He has exhibited his work at Kunstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Kiasma in Helsinki, Bibliotheca Alexandria in Egypt, Nationalmuseum in Stockholm, Tensta Konsthall in Stockholm, Lautom in Oslo, Laviola Banks Gallery in New York, Maria Stenfors Gallery in London; to name a few. Solo shows include Museum of Contemporary Art in Zagreb, Natalia Goldin Gallery in Stockholm, Alida Ivanov Gallery in Stockholm, Charles Bank Gallery in New York.

/Alida Ivanov

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Biotop 2014


Group exhibition at Biologiska Museet in Stockholm

Alexander Gutke
Allen Grubesic
Bigert & Bergström
Bruno Liljefors
Hilde Retzlaff
Ilja Karilampi
Johan Strandahl
Johanna Gustafsson Fürst
Karl Norin
Luca Frei
Maria Hedlund
Nadine Byrne
Simon Denny
Simon Mullan
Sophie Tottie
Willem Andersson

Once in philosophy class I zoned out. A discussion was roaring around me, but it became a backdrop for my thoughts instead. All of a sudden a question popped into my head and simultaneously out of my mouth: “What is life?”

Traumatically, for me, everyone laughed at the randomness of my outburst. But that question returns to me now while sitting here trying to define “life” and “a place of life”. These questions led to a frantic Googling of “vivaria” and “biotopes”, which can be seen as attempts to confine life into restricted areas for observation. In other words, they’re attempts to define life.

“BIOTOP”, a group exhibition at Biologiska museet in Stockholm, tries to capture our relationship to, and views on, life and how we confine it in order to explain it.

The museum’s dioramas, with their taxidermic animals and plastic flora, try to create “natural” settings where one can see nature instead of, lets say, going outside into a real forest and experiencing it IRL. Subsequently, the combination of this idea and being inspired by my philosophy class, I went on roaming the Internet for the concept of “mimesis”. Yes, you heard me.

Directly translated from Greek, the term means “imitation”. But according to Plato and Aristotle, mimesis is rather used as a representation of nature. As a creation of god, nature is merely a reproduced idea. All artistic production created by man is then an imitation of nature, which ultimately is also an imitation. Okay, here my mind exploded because this stream of consciousness could go on forever. Following this argument that everything, including nature is an imitation would mean that life is also an imitation. I often feel this to be true because personally, my “life” has gradually developed into a “virtual life”, and the urgency of the question at hand “What is life?” has become even more urgent. It has evolved into “What is real life?”, as in the concept of IRL.

In the end, the realization that all of the real-life-lives that we live are confined and restricted areas for observation, just as traditional “vivaria” and “biotopes”.

Text: Alida Ivanov

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Aaron King — Addictives


The unruly broom on the floor in Aaron King’s show has had enough. It is no longer at our disposal and refuses to accept the function it has been assigned. The same can be said of the arrangements of seashells and the series of gum balls cast in cement. The works resembles collections, which have developed their own logics and have finally grown out of the collector’s hand. They strongly reject the concept of usability.

Aaron King’s show is a greeting from a world where our every day objects have grown out of their semantics and left their functionality behind. It is a story of the excess of stuff, of transmutations, of material plentitude and of obsession, of taking and loosing control.

The title “Additives” refers to King’s method of working, where familiar objects are being repeated until their familiarity is lost in their new ways of being.

Aaron King is an American artist based in New York. He has had solo shows in New York, Los Angeles, Athens and Lisbon. His works have been reviewed in the New York Times, Artforum, and Art Papers. Additives is his first exhibition in Scandinavia.

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Ilja Karilampi — Jag Är


Once the English colonists had conquered a high altitude mountain country, it turned out the air was so thin that they could not reproduce themselves. Over time, it became necessary to marry persons from the indigenous population. Perhaps that was a setback in the conqueror’s I AM-leap, but a setback way more interesting than a successful leap would have been. Disturbances in the replication processes, cracks in the mirror, that is what makes it possible to regard any species as a mistake that has become more or less permanent. I am: a mistake; astray. My image reflected on the surface of the object of desire(the mirror stage), hides the materiality of it, a layer of cracks in the surface, distortions, communication interferences, slag, noise and what not, in any case a more interesting aspect of the image in its materiality. The Englishmen thought that they invaded a piece of land while what actually happened, the real event, was that their bodies encountered with an oxygen level that affected the most intimate functions in them. That were more lost than they thought.

The problem is actually restricted to the ordinary way of using mirrors to confirm identity. And something similar applies to the stickers: it is only when they are considered as parts of a population within which competition and the most adapted reproduced and survived ( in short, a market) that they can be mistaken for postmodern appropriations. Ilja Karilampi’s art is elsewhere, even if it could lend itself to a postmodern/mirror stag-understanding (nothing’s wrong with making mistakes). When I saw some of the mirrors in an exhibition, it was clear that the installation was designed to thwart the mirroring effect. They got a transparent, almost invisible character. Rather than to reproduce what was in front of them, next to me, and project it into a utopian space behind them, they were unobtrusive, they blended with the environment to the point of disappearing. Rather than to reflect, they seemed to absorb the environment. That was one of the strategies to counteract the narcissism of mirrors. And by putting stickers on the mirrors, the important function of their surfaces was no longer to reflect, but to support. In this installation, the stickers did not really function as brands on a market, but as parts of someone’s environment: not by competing , but by being selected and provided with features. While the Swedish Embassy’s logotype may be a sign of the presence of the place of departure, or its projection in this new place, others may work as a joke in the same environment. All their properties are not given, some of them are there because a living being has charged them with a certain value for a special way to create an environment. Maybe that is the kind of things that affects the way a surface reflects. This environment of course ” mirrors” the one who made it, but it is not made as and by an ordinaryreflection. It is more of a reconfiguration . It is still I Am, but different.

It seems we can’t get rid of I Am, the thought arises as a perverse counterpart to everything we are going through – like Kant’s “I am” that is a correlative of every thought . But you can live with it without taking it too seriously. Obviously, that is what is happening in social media. Some still do use them according to old standards, i.e. to promote themselves and show who they ideally are (“not”) (a postmodern use, one might say). But many people behave like gentle trolls, but in their own name. It does not matter who hides behind the name because whatever you say or do there will be obvious enough anyway. Your own name or an alias – the difference is neutralized. People are as serious, or as little serious, speaking in their own name as they are using a pseudonym. By the way, I saw that the name DJ Säkerhetskontroll uses at Instagram, nigerian__queen, figures on one of the mirrors. The names get a character attached to them by presenting something in a certain way, and they change character pretty swiftly. It is a performative identity, not a product of some mirroring: a gesture, a tempo, a way to accelerate and swerve, an idea, a down to earth acceptance that I am here now. One might as well have called oneself I Am, I Am That I Am. What more can be said, it’s already empty as it is! A name for the nameless mutation experiments that, at best, appears as small distortions of what you expected. That’s me, in a hallucination.

Lars-Erik Hjertström Lappalainen

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Fia Backström
Marcel Duchamp
Sten Hanson
Jenny Holzer
Beth Laurin
Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd

Belenius initiates the season with a group exhibition aiming to demonstrate as well as explore the idea, or concept, as art form and subsequent consideration over aesthetic or material aspects. With subjective composition and semiotics, as well as semantics, it seeks to challenge our prosaic perception of the covenant of the word with the image. A phenomenon that clearly seems to draw a parallel between verbal and visual qualities, thereby questioning the perception of medium and formalism.
The intention to represent and form, and the will to formulate, rings like a leitmotif when a dematerialized stringency appears

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