Stuff It, Bonniers Konsthall
February 15 - April 2, 2023 Tie-in with Peter Geschwind After Image
Full disclosure: I made a conscious choice not to attend the opening of Stuff It at Bonniers konsthall – not because I didn’t want to go but because I realized I’d get stuck in conversations all night trying to glimpse the artworks or much worse, lines, and not get to see much at all. Standard protocol of sorts for art openings these days but even more hardcore protocol this time than others was expected and kept me installed at home. What I didn’t quite expect in my calculation is that it would take more than a week to get to the konsthall but once I went today, I was happy. Very happy. Backstory: In connection to the just opened Peter Geschwind exhibition and as a tie-in, the konsthall hosted an open call, allowing every artist who'd be interested, to install an artwork in an exhibition that serves a nod back to a Stuff It predecessor held at the infamous artist-run gallery Yngligagatan 1 in 1998 (one that the late Geshwind was one of the helmers of). For all the apparent stretchiness and the full-housiness of it all, I genuinely thought this iteration at Bonniers looked great and loved it. There's so many friendly faces and talented people in art I know represented on the walls and floors with artworks that it would be impossible not to vibe with it at all. Also, there were several instances of revisiting the work of artists I’ve also worked with myself as a curator or am in dialogue with currently and that was swell on a personal note. From what I could tell visitors who appeared to be outside of art seemed to engage with the displays with the same interest as they might at the also ongoing long-standing annual Vårsalongen at Liljevalchs.
Still, it’s so impressive that this happened with the results at hand; hat off to the people at the helm; Theodor Ringborg, Ellen Wettmark, and the host team of Bonniers konsthall who are the most (seriously) personable and fun host team out of any of the major Stockholm art institutions. The beauty inherent in Stuff It as we all get is really how it dissolves boundaries between various corners of the art scene(s) and pushes back invisible but tangible hierarchies and creates a rare scope and one that people can fondly remember; one that signals that “everything is possible”; where there’s a will within institutional machineries, there will be a modus operadi, be it unorthodox. I moderated two talks last fall that both in parts brushed up on situations like this, of how the big institutions on select occasions can extend a hand extensively beyond its favored biennial or curator-darling-artist, art world icon or that lucky one emerging artist. In one of the talks, apropos of the institutional gaze on local artist-run scenes, a voice suggested that maybe the artist-run realm should not desire or want to seek a collective stage as a token in whatever one-off occassion, within a big institution, merely for validation-signaling, as though an inherent contradiction there or such thing just perpetuating and permeating the bias of “the higher order” of one over the other. The gain or interest of participating in an exhibition formatted like this, whatever that may be for the individual artist, comes down to a potential that is bestowed on the artist. And as the turnout of Stuff It would prove, that’s a potential few artists might want to let pass. The allure of the standing of Bonniers konsthall will just be too great which also says something about how distant any big institution like this (not just Bonniers konsthall) as a stage for many artists’ art under ordinary circumstances possibly (or actually?) is. 419 artists are presenting; that's a massive number.
Either way this was truly very inspiring and a congrats due to everyone participating and making this into the
wonder that it is. Hopefully plants a seed or two also at other resourceful institutions in the city. Looking at you; Moderna Museet, Accelerator and Magasin III.
Installation view, Stuff It, Bonniers konsthall, 2023
Maria Toll (left, middle)
Text: Ashik Zaman