14 May – 9 October, 2011
Moderna Museet is the first museum in the world to present a complete exhibition of Klara Lidén. Her major exhibitions to date have been outside Sweden, and have attracted astonishing acclaim from critics and the public, but until now she has been relatively unknown in Sweden. This exhibition is organised jointly with the Serpentine Gallery in London and includes every facet of her oeuvre from 2003 to the present day: videos, stills, installations and a series of painted wall sculptures.
The overall concept is a ghostly labyrinth with an unexpected secret chamber, designed especially by Lidén for Moderna Museet. The entrance to the exhibition has also been moved, to stress the many ways in which a building can be used.
Architecture and urban planning are central to Klara Lidén’s oeuvre. She originally studied architecture at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm in 2000-2003, but then went to Berlin for a year. There she switched to art and enrolled at the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, where she studied between 2004 and 2007. In her work, but also in her activism in urban spaces, Klara Lidén reminds us of the complex interplay between the individual and the collective. She challenges our most fundamental perceptions of private and public spaces, and explains:
“I am partly the poor architect dealing with the problem of existing structures in a city, and partly the amateur dancer or performance artist who wants to convey ideas about rhythm and construction, or about reclaiming our built environment.”
In her video work Paralyzed from 2003, Klara Lidén ignores the etiquette of the public domain and performs an anarchic, wild dance on a commuter train. Paralyzed is also about collectively being alone, since she does not make direct contact with any of her fellow-commuters. In Klara Lidén’s installations, visitors often have to literally negotiate her constructions, which insist on being acknowledged. Now, she is going the full monty and “disturbing” the habitual museum experience with her labyrinthine enactment.
“Every day, all over the world, people travel by underground or bus, wait at crossings, stand in queues or drive on the correct side of the road. It is astounding that this communality actually works. Klara Lidén’s art reminds us, however, of how fragile this community is. Sometimes it is even forced upon us. She wants me to feel uncomfortable about my deceptive longing for perpetual security,” says the curator, John Peter Nilsson.
In the exhibition catalogue, John Kelsey poignantly describes Lidén’s art as “architectonic hooliganism”. One night, for instance, she removed all advertising posters in central Stockholm and replaced them with a transparent sticker bearing the title of this action: U TRY MME, (2002). This can be read as the Swedish word “utrymme”, which means “space”, but also as the English phrase “You try me” – a comment on who has the right to our public sphere.
This major solo exhibition at Moderna Museet features several videos, slide projections and large-scale installations. It also includes the apartment installations Unheimlich Manöver, which was shown at Moderna Museet in 2007.