Migration: Traces in an art collection

By on March 14, 2019

How have artists over the past hundred and fifty years been relate to the concept of exile? Important answers can be given by searching the tracks in a museum collection, in this case Malmö Art Museum, which during the summer is shown at Tensta konsthall. In this presentation, the first in the larger format in Stockholm, the focus is on the various experiences of migration. The artists include Sven X:et Erixson, Peter Weiss, Lotte Laserstein and Meriç Algün.

A remarkable sequence of events took place in Malmö Museums in the spring of 1945. With the initiative White buses, the city was suddenly filled with refugees from the opened concentration camps and existing premises quickly became overcrowded. The resolute museum director Ernst Fischer then decided to overnight the museum into a place with hundreds of sleeping places. The event is imaginatively depicted by Sven X:et Erixson in a monumental painting. But even those who were accommodated at the museum left drawings after themselves which are now included in the collection. Small works on paper depicting life in concentration camps with both fear and friendship.

– Over the years, as head of the Malmö Art Museum, I became increasingly familiar with the museum’s collection and at the same time more aware of how historical circumstances, the time and the place affect how a collection becomes. The story of Ernst Fischer when he opened the museum for refugees has also made me think more about what an art museum can be. For me, it is a perfect first exhibition as head of Tensta Konsthall, says Cecilia Widenheim.

The Malmö Art Museum’s collection belongs to one of the country’s richest, but has rarely been shown in Stockholm. The exhibition began to be planned in 2017 and the works that are shown range from the 1800s to the present and the focus is on artists who lived and worked in exile, or who worked with exile and migration as motives. Classics like Isaac Grünewald, Sven X:et Erixson, Peter Weiss, Öyvind Fahlström and Gerard Nordström are shown side by side with, among other things, a group of 1930s painters from Latvia and Lotte Laserstein, the artist who fled from Berlin and came to settle in Kalmar and support themselves as a portrait painter.

Another group of works talks about the increased political awareness and commitment to world events that characterized parts of the art world in the 1960s and 70s. In addition, a number of completely contemporary works are displayed that in various ways comment on the image of migration in a globalized world. The artist Luca Frei has worked out an exhibition design inspired by a work by Sonia Delaunay that is part of the exhibition.

For a year, Tensta konsthall together with CuratorLab at Konstfack under the leadership of Joanna Warsza studied public art collections and used the Malmö Art Museum as an example. In the final phase, the course has devoted itself to the concept of migration from the perspective of art and contributes a number of program items on 14 and 15 May.

Curators: Maria Lind and Cecilia Widenheim

Contributing artists: Gösta Adrian-Nilsson, Meriç Algün, Sahar al-Khateeb, Albin Amelin, Pia Arke, Kärlis Baltgailis, Maja Berezowska, Sonia Delaunay, Eduards D Dzenis, Ewa Einhorn / Jeuno JEKim, Sven X: et Erixson, Öyvind Fahlström, Jörgen Fogelquist , Luca Frei, Leon Golub, JäzepsGrosvalds, Isaac Grünewald, MaximeHourani, Björn Jonson, Käthe Kollwitz, Jakob Kulle, Runo Lagomarsino, Lotte Laserstein, Lars Laumann, Franco Leidi, Per-Oskar Leu, Janis KarlovicLiepins, Lage Lindell, Sven Ljungberg, Sirus Namazi, Endre Nemes, Gerard Nordström, Karl EnockOhlsson, MinnaRainio, Mark Roberts, Ninnan Santesson, VassilSimittchiev, Jadwiga Simon Pietkiewicz, Niklav Strunke, Superflex, Olla Svanlund, Paola Torres Nuñez del Prado, Ulf Trotzig Tage Törning, Peter Weiss, Jacques Zadig and Anders Österlin.

Helena Olofsson, Culture & Music | Tensta