Konstnärshuset: A Paralysis of One’s Inner Sense of Direction, exhibition opening 13 April 2024

Welcome to the exhibition En förlamning av ens inre känsla för riktning at Konstnärshuset (Upper gallery) in Stockholm.
The exhibition opens on Saturday 13 April at 1-4 pm and runs through 4 May.

Malin Pettersson Öberg, Unexpected and Unforeseen, video still (2024)

En förlamning av ens inre känsla för riktning
Hiroko Tsuchimoto, Malin Pettersson Öberg, Kristina Bength
Konstnärshuset, Upper gallery, Smålandsgatan 7, Stockholm
Saturday 13 April – Saturday 4 May 2024
Opening Saturday 13 April at 1 pm

In the exhibition En förlamning av ens inre känsla för riktning visual artists Hiroko Tsuchimoto, Kristina Bength and Malin Pettersson Öberg show works based on the Japanese writer Kôbô Abe. Kôbô Abe (b. 1924 in Tokyo) was active in post-war Japan. His novels are characterised by an experimental, absurd style through which existential and socially critical themes are explored.

Hiroko Tsuchimoto has for the exhibition focused on Kôbô Abe’s short story Dendorocacalia (1949), which links botanical life with Japan’s colonial modernity. In the story, the protagonist Mr. Common is transformed into the species Dendrocacalia crepidifolia from the Bonin Islands, a site of colonisation, militarisation and occupation since the mid-19th century. At the end of the story, the transformed plant is collected and displayed in a greenhouse in a state-owned botanical garden. In the video work Undesireable Kisses (2023), Hiroko Tsuchimoto relates to Abe’s approach to botanical subjectivity. A new series of drawings entitled Following the Threads (2024) manifests a traceable method of making a spontaneous entangled web as a resistance towards an anthropocentric view of the world.

Saturday 20 April at 13:00, Tsuchimoto will give the performance The difference between plants and animals is not qualitative, but only quantitative (2024) which reflects on the inner world of plant life and contrasts perspectives on plant metamorphosis. The performance is followed by a conversation between the three artists.

Hiroko Tsuchimoto, Undesireable Kisses, video still (2023)

Kristina Bength has developed a series of watercolour paintings (2020-2021) based on Abe’s novel The Box Man (1974). Some of them are on the inside of a cardboard box made of watercolour paper, visible only through the perforated handle of the box. The paintings depict an artificial underwater environment, models of fishing nets forming different spatialities, in sealed display cases.The titles of the paintings consist of sentences from Abe’s work, such as I suppose a fish could very well drown in the air by falling in the opposite direction, upwards, towards the sky. In Abe’s The Box Man, the narrator withdraws from society by starting to live his life in a cardboard box. The cardboard has a peephole through which he can observe the outside world, but also photograph it unnoticed.

Kristina Bength, En fotograf, fönstertittare, borrar hål, precis var som helst, water color in cardboard box (2021)

Kristina Bength, Den egna kroppens lätthet… water color on paper (2021)

Malin Pettersson Öberg activates Abe’s existential and socially critical gaze in a new video essay, Unexpected and Unforeseen (2024), where she reflects on the pandemic and post-pandemic society. How can we respond to uncertainty, and is there anything useful in the unexpected and unforeseen? Drawing on writers such as Abe (1974), Rebecca Solnit (2005) and Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2007), as well as Buddhist thoughts reflected in the Japanese art form Ukiyo-e (1661), she thinks further about reverse movements and the experience of isolation and lack of control. Pettersson Öberg equally connects to these themes in her ongoing series of paintings Vikta blad (2023-). The paintings show forms and structures in paper, textile, branches or feathers, that she photographed while travelling in Asia and Europe in the years before the pandemic.

Malin Pettersson Öberg, Svart svan, detail from painting (2024)