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He Came in with the Breeze

Notes on the tie-in performance We Feel a Desire for Caresses by Men (The Gothenburg Affair), as part of Conny Karlsson Lundgren’s solo exhibition I Kiss Your Eyes at Bonniers Konsthall. February 14 - April 7

Performer: Ido Grinberg

Curator: Joanna Nordin

Installation view, Conny Karlsson Lundgren, I Kiss Your Eyes at Bonniers Konsthall, February 14 - April 7, 2024. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger. Courtesy of the artist and Bonniers Konsthall

Editor’s note: A more comprehensive review of the exhibition as a whole, authored by a contributor can be expected shortly.


The refined economy; the occasional but not constant sparsity, of the spatial dispositions of Conny Karlsson Lundgren’s mid-career survey I Kiss Your Eyes at Bonniers Konsthall is partially explained by ”void” meant ideally to be fleshed out over the course of a series of performances. As such the specific node in the room that was ”activated” yesterday in We Feel a Desire for Caresses by Men (The Gothenburg Affair), could almost appear like a vessel marked by non-linear clues until the story unfolds in live flesh and fashion. The performer (Ido Grinberg) softly, almost balletically twirls into view and around, and ultimately out of view in the end, like a breeze of wind. It’s designed to inspire an inherent physical sensation of actually being touched by ”peau douce”. Or in the least catalyze such memory to the fore. The performer brings the recital back to a time before gays were even called ”homosexuals”, rather ”perverts”. The candor of social interactions reveal many poignant things in the midst of this time of persecution. Of how the effeminate men forged a spiritual kinship and camaraderie but nevertheless desired more masculine men in their midst. It also stirs a notion of the hereditary of ”internalized homophobia”, as a residue of these times, and a result of attitudes enforced by a heteronormative society. I'm a generation who grew up pre-paradigm shift in understanding and accepting gender and sexuality, one where no one came out, at even the most openminded and progressive high school, before transitioning to university. Even as relatability naturally will differ in the audience, the beauty here is that I'm quite convinced that it does, contradictory as it sounds, hit quite "equally", and that's really a feat in itself.



The buildup ultimately unfolds into a courtroom scenario with our learning that the narrator is indicted for homosexual relations. The investigation protocol accounts the most intrusive, humiliating and intimate scrutiny of bodies, as though a scientifical study of an extra-terrestrial species or the non-human animal. It’s as arresting as it sounds. I start thinking at once of the cult neo-noir and upon its release very controversial British film Victim from 1961, starring Dirk Bogarde, who himself was gay and portrayed several gay and bisexual men on the screen. A slightly different narrative in the film, but also a mirror of times when homosexual relations were looked upon a societal ”atrocity” and something that ”the role model citizen” could have been blackmailed for having.


Ido Grinberg in We Feel a Desire for Caresses by Men (The Gothenburg Affair), as part of Conny Karlsson Lundgren’s solo exhibition I Kiss Your Eyes at Bonniers Konsthall. Photo: Ida Sjödin/Bonniers Konsthall


The performer’s attire at Karlsson Lundgren's hands merits a special mention; it's light as a feather; a masculated amalgam of the feminine negligé, topped off with a pearl necklace around the neck. Neither too pristine to not be marked by wear and tear, nor so tawdry to detract from elegance. Every detail appears carefully thought of, but that is the genre of artist that Karlsson Lundgren is, and that’s something that hardly will be lost on his audience. And for that I’m glad. Very few artists in Sweden are used to disseminating so tenderly and meticulously through their art, queer histories from clandestine ”rooms” that no longer are. Karlsson Lundgren is one, Sam Hultin another, and Victoria Verseau more recently a third I think of in the same breath and have worked with as a curator. This is an exhibition that requires much artistic and curatorial conviction, so kudos also to Joanna Nordin, whose first exhibition scheduling this is at the artistic helm of the konsthall. As a peer, I know how much it blows when curatorial efforts are not recognized in reviews.


Note: The performance is also mediated through video documentation in the exhibition. Installation view, Conny Karlsson Lundgren, I Kiss Your Eyes at Bonniers Konsthall, February 14 - April 7, 2024. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger. Courtesy of the artist and Bonniers Konsthall


There is a moment where the performer recites an experience of another character, relating to the taste of semen, offering the evidently pungent smell/taste to be that of ”raspberry jam”. It sticks with me. At 38, I’ve only ever tasted it once; and it certainly wasn't all blueberries. While I’ve never had such instant urge before; for something that left such sour taste (literally), it nevertheless is remembered fondly. The raspberry attribution sticks particularly much, in so far an emblematic mirror of how for certain intimate displays and transactions you need to find language that laminates on to what is inherently "ugly" for others, a more rose-colored filter. That's another staple in Karlsson Lundgren's script; the reminder itself of how integral inventive language, names and labels have been to define community on its own terms. Last thought of that when tongue-in-cheek, titling an exhibition of mine; Save Your Hail Marys!, in reference to "Mary" in the past used in the vocative between men to address a fellow homosexual.


And also, yes, this performance is for the sensory abled-person, but it’s great and refreshing with a visual essay that is so comparatively "unvisual", where it can stand also without all the visual stimuli, should that be necessary for someone.


Ashik Zaman




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