The 2022 Best Exhibitions List
As per ush, Team C-print annually rounds up the year going back in our memory over the exhibitions that we saw and which made the strongest impact on us altogether. The breadth of this year's list stretches from emerging artists at art schools to exhibitions by noted seasoned artists whose proper due was had later in life to one seminal and iconic artist who makes for a constant fixture in the international art calendar of every year.
Alexander Rynéus, The Glitter Factory, MFA solo, Galleri Konstfack, Stockholm
Django Giambanco, Tempo, The Royal Institute of Art (Kungliga konsthögskolan), Stockholm.
Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger
10. MFA solo exhibitions: Alexander Rynéus, The Glitter Factory, Konstfack, Stockholm Django Giambanco, Tempo, The Royal Institute of Art (Kungliga konsthögskolan), Stockholm
At Konstfack in Stockholm, the MFA '22 cohort proved to be one of the stongest in a long time, reeking of artists with distinctive vision, among whom the meritorious filmmaker Alexander Rynéus was one and which has been evidenced by a successful trajectory in film festival circuits already prior to Konstfack. His solo The Glitter Factory sprung from a former glitter factory (Sweden’s only) in the region of Dalarna and makes for quite a remarkable story airing on themes of the ephemerality of time and mortality, and a project that seemingly started on a personal note relating to bloodline and continuously filming his parents and their rapport, to later evolving into something much greater, beyond its initial scope. The low-intense march of the film, wrapped in sublime cinematography and candid intimate shots, gradually builds up to an arresting hold on the viewer. The visual and spatial optics of this multi-channel video exhibition was for sure worthy of an haute biennial. Over at the Royal Institute of Art (Kungliga konsthögskolan), Django Giambanco had already knocked it out of the ballpark at the collective BFA spring degree exhibition in 2021 at Marabouparken with a perplexing material exploration in the form of monumental free-standing relief. That same baffling quality found itself in the MFA solo Tempo at Galleri Mejan, where departing from Tempur matresses, the artist put forth a technical apparatus equipped with refrigerating qualities as the centerpiece of the room. While hard to absorb in certain ways; a stunning construction nevertheless with its contrasting shapes and materials that brought to mind other young material installation artists and favourites from recent years such as Alina Chaiderov, Mateusz Choróbski and Jan Domicz.
Anna-Karin Rasmusson, Omsorgen (2020), installation view in Bie biennal, 2022
9. Bie biennal (3rd edition), Bie, Katrineholm
Since 2016 the quaint locality of Bie, just outside of Katrineholm in Sweden, plays host every two years to the Bie biennal, aimed as a unique meeting ground for art and litterature. The biennial takes place at a location that used to function as a grain storage. Under the helm of the curators; artist Ann Edholm and writer and art theorist Tom Sandqvist, who invited the participating artists to present works that align with this year’s theme ”The moist language” (Det våta språket), the works took on new territories of depiction as they were in dialogue with each and the exhibition space. At the core of the 2022 exhibition was the thematic exploration of conceptions around language and its intrinsic physicality, taking us back to the dadaist artist Tristan Tzara’s proposition that ”Thought is created in the mouth”. Participating artists this biennial edition were Dave Allen, Rebecca Digby, Leif Holmstrand, Zsuzsanna Larsson Gilice, Kristina Matousch, Anna Karin Rasmusson and Magnus Wallin. Authors Fredrik Nyberg, Johannes Heldén and Petra Mölstad also made part of the setlist. With its ambition to broaden the explored theme through the dialogue and emerging result of literary and artistic mediums and practices, the Bie Biennal definitely stood out as a curatorial project. Even though the location is a defunct grain storage it still bears the traces of it, so it was refreshing to see the works interplay with the space in such an ingenious way. This allowed the works not only to unravel new interpretations within the viewer but also to offer the works a sort of liberation from the confines, as you will, of white gallery walls. An example of this and a work which made an instant impression was Anna-Karin Rasmusson’s video work Omsorgen (2020) (The Care), projected onto the worn out wooden floorboards.
Suzanne Jackson, In Nature's Way..., installation view, The Modern Institute, Osborne Street, Glasgow
8. Suzanne Jackson, In Nature's Way..., The Modern Institute, Glasgow
We'll be the first to say that Suzanne Jackson was a discovery and first encounter for us only by way of what was her first exhibition at the Glasgow-based powerhouse gallery The Modern Institute (yes, a gallery), despite a career flexing over deacdes that have included work also as a dancer, theatre designer and curator. With the upcycling of man-made and natural objects and components as a core around her practice, her sculpted paintings or painted sculptures take an apparent interest in abstraction as a genre. While stark in colours as per acrylic paint, her "anti-canvases" at once also exude rather the lightness of watercolours. The largely aerially installed exhibition in the lofty gallery space on Osborne Street (the second nearby gallery venue; 3 Aird's Lane) presented itself as a very inviting garden to get lost in. Images do not do justice.
Björn Lövin, Consumer in Infinity and "Mr. P’s Hoard". Installation view, Moderna Museet, 2022
© Björn Lövin Photo: Åsa Lundén/Moderna Museet
7. Björn Lövin, The Surrounding Reality, Moderna museet, Stockholm
The visitor of Moderna Museet Stockholm’s Björn Lövin exhibition titled The Surrounding Reality was immersed in three Lövin environments. The first part of the exhibition, The Consumer in Infinity, a shopping street paved with glass window displays of household items, sent the visitor down a sort of rabbit hole of consumerism reinforced steadily by the ensuing environments. This continues wandering around the Mr P’s hoard section; an apartment installation and afterwards the fictional insurance company ILAC’s containers, through the minute dissection on the socio-economic structures that “weed out” non-conformity or failure to align oneself and succeed within such systems. We were left with a strong sense and a concrete visual of how pervasive an impact on daily life and life choices such structures may have on individuals. Behind the (re)creation of the environments of Lövin lie obviously enormous amounts of research and painstaking attention to detail. It's fascinating. One came out of the Lövin labyrinth and into the crowd of museum visitors with one’s balance slightly off. Disoriented. Yes, that’s an apt word. Disoriented after being reminded of the actuality of Lövin’s reflections.
FETICHE, curated by Ebony L. Haynes, installation view, Morán Morán, Mexico City
Photo: Ramiro Chaves
6. FETICHE, curated by Ebony L. Haynes, Morán Morán, Mexico City
"Together, the works in this show reflect on the implication of having the terms of your identity projected onto you and then working within that very system which does not consider you. FETICHE is not just a conceptual Black body but also conceived Blackness." wrote curator Ebony L. Haynes about the exhibition.
Featuring works by LaKela Brown, Raque Ford, Hugh Hayden, Tiona Nekkia McClodden, Ambrose Rhapsody Murray, Kayode Ojo, Shikeith, and Kandis Williams, it made for the rare sort of group exhibition, weighing largely on sculpture, where each of the works in their own right and independent from one another were mostly already striking but together as a whole was stimulating on so many levels. "I do no think about slavery when I am in the studio making art. Please stop saying that my art is about slavery", read Tiona Nekkia McClodden's meta art work, This work of art is not about slavery (2021), in the form of a photograph depicting a white title sign on an otherwise empty podium.
Wolfgang Tillmans, Silver Installation VII (2009), in After Venice, Peder Lund, Oslo
5. Wolfgang Tillmans, After Venice, Peder Lund, Oslo
A stone’s throw away from Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art on the tiny island of Tjuvholmen is the gallerist Peder Lund’s waterfront gallery space where we caught Wolfgang Tillmans' After Venice. Wolfgang Tillmans is such an omnipresent fixture in art that he is an artist of the year, almost every year (ping: the major currently ongoing retrospective at MoMa in NYC). What is always interesting in the case of his artistic practice are the choices made, in terms of both installation and image selection, that could be seen to question hierarchies in and around art. At Peder Lund, the earliest works dated back to 2009, coinciding with the artist’s participation in the central exhibition at the 53rd Venice Biennale. While concentrated and modest in air, a very handsome show; glossier than matte and understated. Thought goes back to the mega solo in 2018 at David Zwirner in Hong Kong, on the occasion of Art Basel; an exhibition that was on the list that year, and how nice it is to also approach just a handful of his images in a solo context, outside of big retrospectives, art fairs and displays in museum collections and group exhibitions. Getting to be in a compact Tillmans bubble and surveying his choices and artistic "headspace". The main installation, Silver Installation VII (2009), encompassed two walls of unframed monochrome C-prints, altogether creating a grid of colors that brought a game of Tetris to mind. It prompted the feeling of not having seen photography this titilating and seductive in a while. Also present in the show were images of lush plants and, as a contrast, an image depicting a pile of wrinkly clothes underlining the show’s almost lack of human presence—there but not really there, beyond appendage.
Basma al-Sharif, Capital (2022), still. Courtesy of the artist and Imane Farès, Paris
4. Basma al-Sharif, Capital, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago
Basma al-Sharif's 2022 work, Capital, consisting of a two-channel video and a series of aerial textile banners depicting architectural renderings of proposed urban spaces raise thoughts to how urban architectural design departs from and considers those who are "ideal residents", to the detriments and neglect of larger communities and whilst turning a blind eye to the learnings of the failings of colonial architecture. Pointing at the increasing prevalance of fascism in quotidian society, Capital was also inspired by the Italian notion of "White Telephone films" (Telefoni Bianchi) from the 30-40s. Such films would feature Italian characters in escapist narratives, seated in alluring Hollywood-style glamour devoid of any of the realities of wartime Italy, while deceptively promoting conservative and nationalistic notions about home, family, and religion, making them essentially early fascist propaganda films.
Howardena Pindell, Howardena Pindell: A New Lanuage, installaton view, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh
3. Howardena Pindell, Howardena Pindell: A New Lanuage, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh
Howardena Pindell’s first institutional solo in the UK, ’Howardena Pindell: A New Language’ at Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh in parts was brilliant but a heartbreaking and gutwrenching account of never-ending structural racism against black people in the US. In a video work dating back from 1980 - Howardena Pindell speaks in the midst about being rejected sending 300 job applications after graduating from Yale and about racism at white weddings being the only black. ”Suzanne Jackson in Glasgow and yesterday Howardena Pindell in Edinburgh; two African American artists who had their proper due moments as artists later in life. Both showing in Scotland as we speak. Meanwhile Stockholm always feels a little behind in some regards. Moderna Museet banking on Nan Goldin this fall. Institutions in Stockholm tend to enjoy perpetuating the same names again as recent history has and will continue to prove…”, we wrote during our trip in Glasgow and Edinbrugh back in February.
Nam June Paik, Empire State Building, 1995, “at dawn” at JULIA STOSCHEK COLLECTION, Berlin, 2022. Photo: Alwin Lay
2. at dawn, Julia Stochek Foundation, Berlin
Visiting the JSC in Berlin this summer, while there for 12th Berlin biennale, felt like a" game over" situation for most institutions back home (over, finito) because JSC is just like lightyears ahead and beyond. Certainly was a reminder of how institutions back home at times have been appearing like one-two-trick-pony venue with some perpetual ”shtick” going on. The thirty-something works on view represented an unusually vast terrain, from new digital medias and boundary-pushing image production (whether in the present or what once was) to social and political work, joined per the common denominator of imagining alternatives to our "poisonous and insolvent present" (words formulated by the late Cuban American thinker José Esteban Muñoz). An exhibition that manages to join a new media precursor such as Nam June Paik and post-internet avant-garde artist collective DIS with the likes of Barbara Hammer, Nancy Holt (with Robert Smithson) and Joan Jonas without ever feeling discordant is interesting from a curatorial point of view to watch. The exibition felt so so cathartic and made us feel ”antsy” about exhibitions that we are curating ourselves next year. A visit to JSC is the best thing you can do for your art inspiration and get your imagination going. Interestingly the artist who sets the tone for great parts of the exhibition; Jacolby Setterwhite (his biggest presentation in Europe to date with four large spatial video installations) brought to mind the sensational videos of Lil Nas X so much that we had to look up whether the artist had possibly been the visionary behind those videos or not. He had apparently not, and we're not the only ones to have wondered.
Martine Syms, She Mad Season One, installation view, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago
1. Martine Syms, She Mad Season One, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago
The still ongoing Martine Syms: She Mad Season One at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago was
such a conceptual epos! A gonzo sitcom in multiple episodes about an artist struggling to make it in LA, drawing from the artist's own real-life ups and downs. During what were frequent and multiple trips to Chicago this year, starting early in spring for the art fair Expo Chicago, and a lot of very potent art (institutional solos of Bani Abedi, Nick Cave and others), this was pure love. Catch those who can! This solo was so nicely calibrated between contemporary visual culture (there's no evading the zeitgeist of TikTok; we're too old to be on) and exhibition design. Sparse and lavish at once.
At the pen,
Ashik & Koshik Zaman & Corina Wahlin
Drawing by Corina Wahlin