COUNTERPART = production intended as an explicit contrast to something.
Facing the elections of 2014, ICIA implemented the extensive art project Counterparts. The exhibition took place on 22 August until 14 September at various locations around Gothenburg. To a great extent, Counterparts enveloped new artistic works of artists, poets and activists that in different ways tackle the public realm through speeches, statements, city tours, installations, video, text and performance.
Roxy Farhat, Johanna Friedman & Hanna Stenman, Patrik Bengtsson, Joanna Rajkowska, Cecilia Parsberg, Cecilia Germain, Johanna Gustavsson, Marika Hedemyr, Kjell Caminha, Haroon Natan, Karin Linderoth & Carl-Oscar Sjögren (The non existent Center), Karin Michalski & Ann Cvetkovic, Lisa Färnström & Tova Gerge, Annika Vessel & Paolo Zuccutti all participated in the exhibition program.
During the fiery election campaign in the midst of party rhetoric, Counterparts took the public space and moved through Gothenburg by following parts of the tramlines 6 and 9, from Angered to Masthugget, Götaplatsen and several places along the way. Counterparts also published a journal, using the form of an advertising supplement, distributed with the local newspaper Göteborgs-Posten on August 22.
The journal consists of texts, art works, poems and analysis from Amanda Ivanovic & Alice Hardju, Athena Farrokhzad, Chantal Mouffe, Dimen Abdulla, Elena Wolay, Elis Larsson & Åsa Elieson, Emil Boss, Jens Stilhoff Sörensson & Erik J Olsson, Jonas Gren, Johanna Gustavsson, Simone Weil & Angel Haze, Judith Kiros & Valerie Kyeyune Backström, Karin Michalski & Ann Cvetkovich, Kristina Hultegård, Lucy Milkova, Majsa Allelin, Mathias Wåg, Meira Ahmemulic och Patricia Lorenzoni. Counterparts co-curator Maja Hammarén is also the editor of the journal.
Counterparts explores how to deepen and challenge the image of what art in the public space can be. This means for example that the content and the issue of each work also asserts itself on the context in which the work is displayed, also to extend the work’s political action by activating specific programs beyond the traditional art dialogue based on content and context. Thus additionally inserting the work in new contexts, meeting new audiences and participants.
Through their individual artistic practices, the participants were invited to the project to respond to the worn neoliberal discourse that dominates our time with Counterparts. Counterparts is about language, public communication, power and how one creates and manifests the stories about the city. Is it at all possible to use art to displace the existing stories, provide other perspectives or counterpart images to the dominant discourse?
The starting point was the city of Gothenburg, both as a physical place, but also as mental state and public image.
Counterparts does not seek to replace, thwart or reduce the importance of party politics. But in the neoliberal capitalism prevailing world order, there are many policy issues that go beyond party politics. Gothenburg has had a social democratic government in the last 25 years, and are nevertheless an excellent example of a city where a neo-liberal capitalist order has completely taken over: from political power, the consensus-thinking policy across party lines. Meanwhile buzzwords like interaction erases in its turn differences and creates shortage on policy options; the close relationship between business and politics (Gothenburg spirit vs corruption); the dominant media discourse and trademark hysteria, namely the temporary experience of Gothenburg taking more space than the everyday reality.
Counterparts also consiststed of a thorough programme throughout the exhibition period. Chantal Mouffe, Ann Ighe, Joanna Rajkowska, Anna Linder, Johanna Gustavsson & Karin Michalski, Edda Manga, Valentina Desideri, Ulf Karl Olov Nilsson, Kristoffer Liljedahl, Lisa Färnström, Roxy Farhat & Hanna Stenman all participated in this program.
Anna van der Vliet, Artistic director
Maja Hammarén, Co-curator and editor
Kjell Caminha, curatorial assistant
Counterparts was made possible with the support of PostkodLotteriet, The Swedish Art Council, Culture Office City Of Gothenburg and Västra Götalandsregionen Culture.