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Urban Concerns / Mella Jaarsma

2008-03-09 to 2008-04-20

Bildmuseet’s collaboration with Johannesburg Art Gallery continues. A new addition in the project Urban Concerns is an exhibition by the Dutch-Indonesian artist Mella Jaarsma who explores questions concerning cultural identities. 

The two invited curators Michelle Harris, South Africa and Veronica Wiman, Sweden have together set up a programme around the theme Urban Concerns that takes place at Bildmuseet during 2008. Changes in and development of the urban space, citizen’s experience of their city and their thoughts around the public spaces are some of the issues discussed within the project.

Next stage in the project Urban Concerns is an exhibition with Mella Jaarsma. She shows two pieces, Refugee Only (2003) and Asal (2005) that both have their origins in the mobility of people and the shifting identities produced thereby. Jaarsma works often with clothing as symbolic and physical form and uses culturally loaded materials like camouflage fabrics, animal skins and horns. By playing with preconceived ideas of cultural norms and boundaries she tries to engender dialogue.

The installation Refugee Only looks like a garment and yet, it has the shape of a shelter. The shelter, which has been constructed for daily use provides its user with the most urgent: first aid and food. The garment shown together with a series of photographs of cultivated landscapes refers to the presence of migration in our everyday lives and the fact that everyone has to be prepared to become a refugee.

”Asal dari mana?” is Indonesian and means, ”Where are you from?” Asal that also means authenticity is the title to Jaarsma’s second piece that intents to question the notion of authenticity. The work is influenced by several cultural features and deals with the complexity of our identities and their wavering origins.

Urban Concerns

Since early 2007 Bildmuseet and Johannesburg Art Gallery has engaged in a mutual cultural exchange project, Friendly Takeovers. A key component in this project is the collaboration between the two invited external curators Michelle Harris, South Africa and Veronica Wiman, Sweden. Together they have conceptualized a joint programme, Urban Concerns, which will be carried out during 2008. Developments and changes in urban space, people’s relation to and experience of public spaces and the city are some of the issues raised within Urban Concerns.

At Bildmuseet Urban Concerns is launched on Saturday January 19th at 2 pm. This starting event consists of several parts. A solo exhibition with the South African artist Sharlene Khan, her first presentation in Sweden, will open. The show includes her installation Two Fish and Five Loaves and the wall piece (B)LACK, two works that take as their starting point city life in the metropolises of South Africa, discussing the presence of informal economies as well as questions related to immigration and xenophobia.

Invited to participate in Urban Concerns, artist Daniel Peltz’s has worked with students from Östra gymnasiet in Umeå in a 3-day workshop at Bildmuseet on January 16-18. The purpose of the workshop is to facilitate youth in Umeå and Johannesburg to communicate with each other in an on-line video dialogue. The workshop in Umeå is part of Peltz ongoing international project Call and Response and it is realized in close collaboration with Kulturverket in Umeå.

RACA – Danish graphic designer Pulsk Ravn and Swedish architect Johan Carlsson – is participating with a site specific spatial installation at Bildmuseet, The Hub, which will serve as a meeting place and information centre for Urban Concerns. RACA is also producing a poster project, Public Notes, in the city of Umeå, a project that is thought of as an interactive public ”scrapbook” with the intention to map how inhabitants in Umeå view and perceive of their environment. Equally, in The Hub, visitors can access how citizens in Johannesburg comment on their city. Later in the year RACA will also contribute to Urban Concerns with a social interaction in Umeå och Johannesburg.

Urban Concerns / Friendly Takeovers is carried out within the framework of the Swedish-South African Culture Partnership Programme, a bilateral fund for culture exchange, administered by Statens Kulturråd in Sweden and the Department of Arts and Culture in South Africa.

Artists Sharlene Khan, Daniel Peltz, Johan Carlsson together with Curator Veronica Wiman will be present for the press conference and the opening.

The project Urban Concerns runs under the Swedish-South African Culture Partnership programme that is a bilateral fund for cultural projects. It is administrated by the Swedish Art Council and Department of Arts and Culture in South Africa.