Borderland – Announcements – e-flux

The exhibition Borderland/Gränstrakt takes as its starting point Malmö Konstmuseum’s and Ystads konstmuseum’s comprehensive collections of Scanian landscape paintings from the period 1850–1950. Here, a large number of artists that depict the areas around Scania, the most southern region of Sweden, are presented in dialogue with contemporary works. 

With landscape painting as a lens, we can see our relationship to nature and ourselves through different times. Landscape painting contributes to a solidification of the boundaries between human and nature, city and country, and a “we” and a “them.”  

Today, issues of national identity and belonging as depicted through art and culture have once again been brought up in Swedish politics. Borderland problematizes the role of landscape painting in relation to notions of a culturally homogeneous, original place in the past, and how artistic representations have been used to create a sense of belonging. 

At Malmö Konstmuseum, the exhibition focuses on the years between 1850 and 1915, when urbanization and industrialization pick up speed in Sweden and increasing numbers of people leave the country for a life in the growing cities. The countryside and depictions of it become a backdrop for all that is constant and safe in an uncertain time. Modernization also means that a national consciousness is being formed. The people are supposed to become united under a shared concept of Swedishness, and artistic depictions of Sweden’s landscapes are used as tools in this process. But certain landscapes and motifs are seen as not “Swedish” enough to fit in—among these, the Scanian plains. In Scania, though, a strong local patriotism grows forth, which is strengthened by landscape painting, museum collections, and exhibition programs. 

At Ystads konstmuseum, Borderland focuses on the first half of the 1900s. Here, the paintings are put into dialogue with contemporary works that examine questions of place and identity. This encounter allows us to catch a glimpse of how cultural heritage impacts our view of the landscape and the countryside today. 

Images of the landscape not only come from art, but also from contexts such as advertising and marketing. Stereotypical images of Scania are used to attract tourists and investors. Landscape images are also employed in political campaigns, both to communicate hopes for a greener future and conservative ideas about how life was better in the past. 

Today, the view of nature is one of the strongest elements of the Swedish national consciousness. Questions of national belonging in relation to art and culture are highly relevant, not least in relation to the ongoing work of developing a Swedish cultural canon. 

The exhibition is part of Flatlands—Network for Artistic Research of Scania.

Artists: Pia Arke, Hjalmar Asp, Svante Bergh, Endis Bergström, Lars Theodor Billing, Gustaf Carleman, Monika Czyżyk, Decolonizing Architecture Art Research (DAAR), Gabriel de la CruzCarl August Ehrensvärd, Wilhelm von Gegerfelt, Nicola Godman, Goldin+Senneby, Per Gummeson, Ossian Gyllenberg, Carl Fredrik Hill, Tora Vega Holmström, Sigrid Holmwood, Johan Johansson, Fritz Kärfve, Axel Kleimer, Axel Theodor Kulle, Jakob Kulle, Axel Hjalmar Lindqvist, Neil Luck, Justus Lundegård, Eric Magassa, Rasmus Myrup, Axel Nordgren, Ernst Norlind, Emil Olsson, Peter Adolf Persson, Gustaf Rydberg, Erlend Rødsten, John Skoog, Stalker, Superflex, Ellen Trotzig, Mateusz Ścibor, Charlotte Wahlström, Agnes Wieslander, Gerhard Wihlborg, Herman Österlund 

Curators: Julia Björnberg, Anna Johansson & Ellen Klintenberg
Graphic design: Kiosk Studio

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