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The Spring Graduates

This year's graduate exhibition of the Royal Institute of Art offers a play on the notion of narcisism relating to artistic practices that largely depart from the self, says curator Alida Ivanov. The show, a most unusually inspiring and accomplished feat for which the former post terminal of Stockholm was appropriated, presents 24 graduates from the BA and MA class and undoubtedly makes for a favourite art moment of the year so far. C-print speaks to curators Olivia Berkowicz and Alida Ivanov about their work as producers as well as grads Joline Uvman, Fathia Mohidin, Susanna Jablonski and Inez Jönsson. Images by Jean-Baptiste Béranger.

Alida Ivanov & Olivia Berkowicz

C-P: What is your respective background as curators and how did you get involved in the graduate show for the Royal Institute of Art?

A.I: I’ve been working in the art world for 12 years now, started off as a gallery assistant, run my own gallery, worked as an art critic, project manager and so on. Most recently I have the position of deputy curator at Göteborgs Konsthall. I was actually asked by Oskar Hult (MA graduate) to be the curator for the master show. But I have for sometime wanted to do this specific show, so I was super excited about it.

O.B: In 2013 after I finished my Bachelor’s degree in Art History at Goldsmiths, University of London, I decided to continue into the curatorial field. The degree at Goldsmiths mostly focused on individual research projects which for me became somewhat of a lonely process. Working as a curator is a lot of the time navigating the dynamic interplay of artists, institutions, producers and other agencies which is appealing to me as a collective process. I recently graduated from the Master's programme in Curating at Stockholm University, during which I participated in a series of workshops at the Royal Institute of Art with professor Donatella Bernardi’s group. Here I got to know many of the students who are part of this year’s bachelors class, which I believe was one of the reasons why they approached me to be their exhibition producer.

C-P: Working with a great number of graduates with disparate practices for a showcasing exhibit, what are the some of the considerations that go into the work and what was the process with the graduates like?

A.I: That is always the difficulty with working with shows like this. There needs to be a balance between presenting each individual artist but also thinking of it as any group show, where the overall picture becomes important, which is something that is often lost in graduate shows. Olivia and I decided to put the MA and BA classes together to aim for this overall picture.

O.B: Interestingly, the BA class had a different working method towards the degree show than the MA class, which I think is worth bringing forward. For the BA group, the degree show is an educational element in which they take greater responsibility in producing their exhibition. We started the year with group conversations around each student’s practice, where everyone formulated an idea of how they would like to present their coming work. Conceptually, we talked about how usually degree shows don’t have a curatorial theme – and that we wanted to focus on this collective disparity and friction of a school class. This was developed through the BA catalogue and the theme of “clusterfuck” and “My Friends” pages inside the catalogue.

Clusterfuck is a military term, but also something that the former vice chancellor of the Royal Institute of Art, Marta Kuzma brought up during a panel discussion last year. Clusterfuck, she said, could be a speculative art department which would accommodate the interdisciplinary interests of artists today. This idea was something that influenced and shaped the process of the bachelors graduates throughout the year.

C-P: You have literally appropriated a gigantic space, the former post terminal of Stockholm, a place many know of them but likely have never been inside in before. At first glance, the thought that comes to mind is how challenging the space must be to work with and yet everything gels so beautifully, each of the artists is given due room and command their space within the show. It was wonderful in the least. In what end did you begin on location?

A.I: Oh my god, yeah the space was definitely overwhelming. We had a lot of help from the students and that was also the end we began at: what where their needs for their work. And of course many changes were made during the period of the installment.

O.B: The location came to play a crucial role in producing the show together with the two classes. I think that what was interesting about the process was in finding interesting couplings between an art work and the site specificity of Tomteboda. Also for this year’s degree show, the MA and BA classes presented a mixed show, which meant that we worked in finding synergies and interesting contrasts between the two graduate classes. I would say that the students of both groups have been incredibly present within the process of thinking about how to construct the show – everything from the placement of the

walls, the lighting and which students’ works would make interesting connections. Although a tricky space, I really think the students have risen to challenge of adapting and responding to the idiosyncratic nature of Tomteboda post terminal.

Joline Uvman (BA class)

C-P: What characterizes your work as an artist?

J.U: My need to display the struggle I feel it is to be a woman who makes art. As for the raw material in my work, I use the experience of being a female art student and my recurring worries of being read as inactive and underachieving in relation to a major institution. The outcome results in contradicted narratives, multiplied bodies and frozen time shown through video and sculpture made by simple everyday materials. The screen is always present.

C-P: What are you showing in the spring graduate show?

J.U: A video installation called Sommarrapporten (The Summer Report) and the sculpture installation Fallstudier (poorly translated Case Studies; in Swedish the term Fall includes a wordplay between the words Fall and Case) where I have investigated my body as a case of a potential fall.

C-P: What’s next in the store for you?

J.U: To break the surface and continue my studies on a masters level at Mejan.

Susanna Jablonski (MA class)

C-P: What characterizes your practice as an artist?

S.J: Temporary, monumental, transformative, precious, precarious, slow and intimate materials and objects.

C-P: What are you showing in the spring graduate show?

S.J: Everything! A video which imagines the movement of a willow tree as it twists over time. An ongoing series of sculptures, Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board. The title comes from a game played by young girls in which a body can be lifted, as if by magic, by having a collective focus. Moreover, a free-standing bronze bow and Rebecka, a sculpture made of solid glass and a cobblestone from Poland. There's a neon gas circle that’s my own height and wingspan, and underneath it a circle of dried lavender flowers. Finally, a furniture-like wave of cherry wood filled with asphalt (the world’s slowest liquid) and a stone rod that I found.

C-P: What’s next in store for you?

S.J: Through to next year I’ll be working on a exciting research project together with the artist Cara Tolmie. It’s called The Gender of Sound and will culminate in a multi-faceted event in 2018. And I’m continuing to work on my music project SW/Slow Wave with William Rickman.

Fathia Mohidin (BA class)

C-P: What characterizes your practice as an artist?

F.M: For the past three years I’ve been exploring the field of sport. I’ve continuously been working with questions concerning structures and through sports I started to look further at categorizations and how bodies exist under certain structures. But sport also became important to me because of its similarities to art with its role in nation building and the presence of competition.

I always enter a process with a question or a topic, which is followed by a really long research phase. I think that’s what characterizes my practice the most; I don’t know how to do art without it. The work of the physical piece and the experimentation with all the information and material I collect during this phase comes at a very late stage, and it usually ends up in some kind of installation.

C-P: What are you showing in the spring graduate show?

F.M: I’m showing a video installation, which is a conversation about the body, and in particular, the black, muscular female body. As a part of the process of this piece I started to work out myself as well as having continuous discussions with black, muscular women who also share their experiences in this piece.

C-P: What’s next in store for you?

F.M: I’m still completely hooked on sports and the sporting body; I’m not done yet. It’s an ongoing process and I will continue to work out and consume everything that’s interesting about sports. I’m very excited to see where it leads me.

Inez Jönsson (MA class)

C-P: What characterizes your practice as an artist? I.J: My works are somewhere between painting and object. They have the form of painting but I want to disconnect from only working with a flat surface. Instead I use the construction and the material that provides the paint with something to attach to, such as the frame and the canvas. C-P:What are you showing in the spring graduate show? I.J: I show a series of works that are all based on the idea of the painting as a physical shape, an obejct that you can grab and move around. The construction itself is also what becomes the image. C-P: What's next in store for you? I.J: Right now I'm part of a group exhibition at Belenius Gallery called Season of the Double Bind and I also will exhibit again there in the beginning of 2018.

The spring graduate show is on view through June 11 at Tomteboda Postterminal in Stockholm.

All installation images accompanying the feature courtesy of Jean-Baptiste Béranger.

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