Klara Lidén


Klara Lidén: Unheimlich Manöver, 2007: All images © Klara Lidén. Photos: Albin Dahlsröm/Moderna Museet, Stockholm.Klara Lidén: Unheimlich Manöver, 2007: All images © Klara Lidén. Photos: Albin Dahlsröm/Moderna Museet, Stockholm.

By Aileen Burns

Klara Lidén
Moderna Museet
May 14 – October 9, 2011

Tattered and unremarkable elements of vernacular architecture and our everyday urban environments form the foundation of Klara Lidén’s work. For her second solo show at the Moderna Museet, the 32-year-old Lidén re-routes the audience out of the museum’s flashy lobby (with its requisite stylish café, permanent Barbara Kruger wall work and enticing but overpriced bookshop) into the staff entrance of the museum. After passing through a non-descript door to the side of the open and inviting glass façade, visitors walk down an internal stairway that was only intended to be used by audiences in case of an emergency. A member of the museum’s staff sits on a stool at a high table, taking tickets or cash for entry; the scene brings to mind the doors to a concert in a dingy bar more than a leading venue for modern and contemporary art. Lidén, having trained as an architect, carefully shifts our focus and expectations for the world one inhabits in the presence of her environments, sculptures, slideshows and videos.

Klara Lidén: Toujours être ailleurs (Always To Be Elsewhere), 2010Klara Lidén: Toujours être ailleurs (Always To Be Elsewhere), 2010The simplicity of Lidén’s video work is startlingly captivating. Repetitive or quotidian actions recorded in unremarkable cityscapes or average-looking apartments are paired with catchy soundtracks. It is hard to walk away from them. In Der Mythos des Fortschritts (Moonwalk), 2008, the artist-as-amateur-dancer moonwalks down the sidewalk, lit by the streetlights above, and paired with music from Swedish band Tvillingarna. In combination with the title, which translates to the myth of progress, Lidén’s dance moves can be understood as a tongue-in-cheek critique of science as progress-marker of human progress. In another, more disruptive, dance performance, Paralysed, 2003, Lidén wiles out on the commuter train and strips off a few items of clothing. This hilarious yet totally inappropriate outburst on a Stockholm train car makes other commuters visibly uncomfortable, emphasizing the isolated and controlled daily experience of mass transportation.

In another curious and uncomfortable disruption of the distinction between public and private space, Unheimlich Manöver, 2007, she presents as an architectural installation all of the contents of the her apartment as of the moment the piece was made. Her refrigerator, outmoded music equipment, disorganized cardboard boxes, unruly stacks of paper and even the kitchen sink are available to be scrutinized. The mythos of the work of art as a window into the chaotic life and mind of the artist is here satirized through blunt and literal presentation. Amongst the debris are bits and pieces of other works, like little winks toward people familiar with Lidén’s oeuvre. A broken bike frame presented in Unheimlich Manöver is also the subject of a brutal beating carried out by the artist in a performative video work Bodies of Society, 2006, set in a small apartment bedroom. The artist is shown beating the bicycle with a metal bat while the singer of Tvilingarna chants “I don’t wanna talk about it”. While there are threads to follow through Lidén’s practice, like her direct engagement with the urban environment and its social limitations, strategic use of soundtracks and humorous if ironic sensibility, it is impossible to know where she will go next. For all its everydayness, her work is never predictable and well worth keeping an eye on.

Aileen BurnsAileen Burns is an emerging writer and curator based between Toronto and New York. She recently completed her MA in critical and curatorial studies at Columbia University and has held positions at the Whitney (New York), Justina M. Barnicke Gallery (Toronto) and Mercer Union (Toronto). In addition to contributing to Magenta Magazine Online, her writing appears in Art in America, Canadian Art and C Magazine.