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Tarik Kiswanson Becoming

Bonniers Konsthall April 26 – June 28, 2023 Curator: Yuvinka Medina

Tarik Kiswanson, installation view, Becoming, Bonniers Konsthall, 2023. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger

With this long-awaited, and long in the making exhibition, Kiswanson has transformed the exhibition space into a sanctuary – a haven for observation and reflection. Few elements and far apart begin to trigger the viewer’s own memories. Kiswanson, who lives and works in Paris, is of Palestinian descent and was born and raised in Sweden but had his significant career breakthrough internationally before ultimately only now seeing his due on home turf. A central theme explored in his practice are the means and methods of the construction of identity. Habitually, when contemplating or even talking about the idea, or rather construct, of identity, there is an innate tendency to refer to “roots”, what “ties” us to a certain place, entity, time etc. Our tendency to even just semantically link the concept of our search for identity to the earth and ground is quite telling of the static nature we ascribe to it. But how deceitful that is. Kiswanson’s practice and the works presented in the current exhibition seem to defy such notions. Identity is found in the fragmentary, the transient and is in constant evolution and transformation. Throughout the multimediality of his practice – Kiswanson presents here sculptures, paintings, performance and video works – the artist’s voice comes through with impressive clarity and consistency. Kiswanson is distilling here the everyday elements that connect to the artist’s family history; a past.

Tarik Kiswanson, installation view, Becoming, Bonniers Konsthall, 2023. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger

As with the photographic works Grandfather’s Blazer (2022) and Passing Mother (2022), images of garments made with the assistance of a lung x-ray machine and with the works such as Respite and Anamnesis (2020-2023) which consisting of objects, where family belongings submerged into transparent resin, the artist is a cartographer of a journey with an ever-changing destination. A spoon that has been “uprooted” from the cutlery drawer and journeyed on through the family’s migration during the years is bearer of an identity to the extent of the memories it relays. Before leaving, one feels tempted to linger in the contemplative silence of the space. The works forming part of the series Nest; large white egg-like sculptures suspended mid-air from the walls and ceiling, hover above one’s head calling upon the viewer to look up; one feels an instinctive desire to reach up towards them, seek refuge almost, warp oneself in the safety of the cocoon. In line with one of the themes of the exhibition - levitation - Kiswanson appears to present the visitor with a liberating proposition; that maybe a sense of equilibrium and as such ease in the present can be found in accepting the transposing nature of our continuous becoming.

Corina Wahlin


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