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The Best List 2017

C-print presents the annual list of ten outstanding exhibitions seen in the year that passed which left a standing mark, looking back in the rear-view mirror.

10. Fredrik Åkum, Gothenburg Museum of Art, Sten A. Cultural Award exhibition, Gothenburg

Fredrik Åkum was one of the three 2016 Sten A. Olsson Cultural Award recipients, paving way for a solo presentation running over the beginning of the year at the Gothenburg Museum of Art. Åkum more than deseves a mention as one of the finest next-geberation Swedish painters in our view, as proven with multiple solo exhibitions at Galleri Steinsland Berliner over the years. His work as far as motif, has often appeared to draw from the fleeting quality of time, with his human figures possesing an air of nostalgic longing forward, and his departing from the figurative realm towards the abstract in the process. The show at hand at the Gothenburg Museum of Art put forth a series of paintings deriving from the repetition of a single photograph (depicting a patterned shirt) and served with a due reminder of the often soothing experience that can be had facing cunning orchestrations of understated but yet rich palettes.

Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger

9. Royal Institute of Art (Mejan), Spring degree exhibition (BFA & MFA), Stockholm The spring degree exhibition of the Royal Institute of Art saw the surprising move of the curators and the BA and MA class appropriating the former and giant post terminal of Stockholm (Tomteboda). What struck as particularly succesful, was the luxury afforded to each student in terms of exhibiting space and air, where most degree shows generally suffer from presentations consuming each other and leaving the lingering feeling that the feats of some take place at the expensive of others. It was a hugely inspiring show (cudos to curators Alida Ivanov and Olivia Berkowicz) presenting in the midst artists such as Theresa Traoré Dahlberg, Militza Montverde, Lode Kuylenstierna, Oskar Hult, Inez Jönsson, Susanna Jablonski and Petra Hultman, whose work has either already seen its way into galleries and institutions in and around Stockholm, or will be soon. On view here; Susanna Jablonski.

Installation image Loulou Cherinet: Who Learns My Lesson Complete?, 2017 Moderna Museet i Stockholm. Foto: Åsa Lundén/Moderna Museet

8. Loulou Cherinet, Moderna Museet, Who Learns My Lesson Complete?, Stockholm Moderna museet’s exhibition 'Who Learns My Lesson Complete?' (A title that lends itself from Walt Whitman) presented five works from the past 15 years to present of wonderful video-based artist Loulou Cherinet, whose practice often stems from working in Ethiopia. The works in the show set forth dichotomies of here/there, in/out, us/they and was the socially most poignant exhibition seen in Stockholm all of this year. Among the works presented were 'White Women' set around a dinner table with eight black men offering accounts of their encounters and relationships with white women.

Annika Larsson, Dog, 2001

7. Andréhn-Schiptjenko, exhibition series, Future Revisited (Carin Ellberg, Annika Larsson, Abigail Lane, Tobias Bernstrup, Stockholm

Following the gallery's 25 year anniversary last year, Andréhn-Schiptjenko presented an exhibition series in the fall ('Future Revisited') revisiting past works of a number of the artists affiliated with the gallery programme. A well-considered if not all-out ingenious idea. Beginning on a lighter note, there was Carin Ellberg's ongoing project of 600+ chronological self-portraits dating back to the 80's in the series' first installment. From there it was on to two shows more aligned in their transgressive nature and ambience; YBA-artist Abigail Lane, whose work likely was re-introduced if not introduced to many for the first time (us included) and pioneering Swedish video-artist Annika Larsson showing key works from the turn of the millennium echoing the present in all sorts of uncanny ways. Adding to the finale were Duke Nukem-style shoot 'em up video-games installed for playing in the gallery showroom by Tobias Bernstrup & Palle Torsson, with narratives of blasting monsters inside actual museums (Moderna Museet, Arken Museum for Moderne Kunst etc.) Rare, but so exciting, the sort of immersing tension that found itself in the main room of the gallery during most of the fall.

6. The South African Pavillion, 57th Venice Biennale, Candice Breitz & Mohau Modisakeng, Venice While the buzz at this year's Venice Biennale revolved largely around the German Pavillion and Anne Imhof's 'Faust', and with the official exhibtion 'Viva Arte Viva' arguably feeling lackluster, the real standout on site was the South-African pavillion showing multiple-channel video presentations of artists Candice Breitz and Mohau Modisakeng. Breitz cleverly employed Julianne Moore and Alec Baldwin to voice the stories of refugees who are generally muted down, and while in doing so allegorized the disproportionate importance paid to celebrity in contemporary life and culture while real harrowing issues like the ongoing refuge crisis remain subject to neglect. Mohau Modisakeng's three-channel installation of other-worldly visual beauty appeared at face value to draw from the same theme while ultimately offering a vast and serene meditation on death.

5. Angelika Loderer, Sophie Tappeiner Gallery, Quiet Fonts, Vienna Austrian-born Angelika Loderer is one to keep an eye on and presented a compelling show at the recently inaugurated Sophie Tappeiner Gallery in Vienna. Noted for involving organic processes and chance as a key component in creation, she presented a series of sculptural formations based on vertically hanging metal strips, shelving molding sand (both burnt and not, hence variations in colour) which is used in metal-casting and metalworking; a craft she learnt within family business.

4. Akram Zaatari, MACBA, Against Photography. An Annotated History of the Arab Image Foundation, Barcelona Artist Akram Zaatari is one of rhe founders of the Arab Image Foundation (AIF) composed of an archive of photographic material relating to the Middle-Eastern, North African and Arab diaspora. His practice has notably seen him recontextualizing archival imagery, offering representations of quotidian life of the recent past, widening common perceptions held in the West of said regions. Surveying the function and role of preserving photography, relating to the narration of time and history, his show this year at MACBA in Barcelona was very thought-provoking and sublime in its staging.

3. Meriç Algün, Galerie Nordenhake, Finding the Edge, Stockholm

In Meric Algün's recent second solo exhibition at Galerie Nordenhake (Stockholm venue) the centerpiece presents as a wooden shelving structure that she cut into seven units on site at the gallery. Taking an interest in how the geographical separation of the world into seven continents correlates with the supposed origins of human desire, the shelves are embellished with objects and notably units of handmade books representing antonymical states of being and conditions like 'Exterior/Interior' and 'Absence/Presence'. A beautiful contemplation on both tangible and immaterial boundaries and connections, materialized in an open, and yet on a visual level, immediate fashion.

2. Omer Fast, Martin-Gropius-Bau, Talking is not always the solution, Berlin

By far, this year's most memorable show was presented to us back in February at Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin, by locally-based Omer Fast. Cinematic in character, Fast's films are based on a non-linear/circular and open dramaturgical direction, subverting perception of space and logic to shift and distort the roles of narratives, as we know them by historical account. In 'Continuity' and 'Spring'. Fast brings forth a white-middle couple dealing with the loss of their son in war, by soliciting young male escorts to substitute his place at home. Attempting to raise questions about the repercussions/damage of war, notions of social perversion and incest are deployed for stressing emphasis on the inherent mechanisms of longing, loss and mourning, and the result as it plays out is as intellectually as emotionally spellbinding.

1. Svenja Deininger, Secession, Echo of a Mirror Fragment, Vienna. Svenja Deininger at Secession in Vienna this year was <3

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