press release

Over the years, Annika Eriksson has produced a large number of works in which the perception of time, structures of power, and once acclaimed social visions are called into question. Many of these pieces revolve around people involved in group activities declaring their function within a broader social structure. Some of these scenarios are everyday situations that we regularly come across; to which Eriksson is alert, observing them with careful attention. If there is one concern that recurs in her artistic practice, it is how the free flow of capital can rapidly and irrevocably change lives, neighbourhoods and entire cities.

The same topics are also to be found in Eriksson’s recent performance pieces, where she shifts the codes of reality and representation and makes the social realities into props. These recent collaborative pieces are reminiscent of those of a theatre director. Part-way between anthropological optimism, humanist socialism and feminism, her practice invokes the reactivation of the public sphere and encourages people to participate in social life.

For the new gallery space of NON, İstanbul; Eriksson will be showing five recent pieces. The four-channel video installation, Wir Bleiben / The Last Tenants focuses on the building where Eriksson used to live. Built in 1755 it has survived centuries, decades and two world wars. Since the wall came down, it is being subject to gentrification, as the area – Berlin, Mitte – where it is located, has been rapidly commercialised and transformed. The piece is portraying the last tenants of the building: their decision to stay in their apartments and the fight for their rights. The video raises a certain awareness of the place, builds close collaboration with the protagonists, and demonstrates a patient management of time. Asking the tenants of the building – her former neighbours – to tell us their story, she provides us with a portrait of the building. In so doing, Eriksson reveals how the former public sphere in DDR that has been dominated and slowly pre-structured by power dynamics, gradually degenerated into an arena pervaded by the powers-to-be until it reached its current late capitalist zenith.

Eriksson continues to ask the question of to whom the cities belong, who fits them, now and then in Wir sind wieder da, a video installation and seven photographic pieces. The film is set in an urban non-space in Berlin – a grass covered area with a few scattered pieces of discarded furniture. This in between space appears to operate on its own time, holding the stubborn calm of non-activity. A subversive form of resistance is implied, the resistance residing within passivity. A group of punks hang out in the darkness; they smoke and drink as their dogs roam free in the area. The stage setup evokes an echo from a recent past, at the same time, a more apocalyptic emptiness of a dystopic future.

Strategically Eriksson plays with the heated debates around the public realm and social structures that regulate it, revealing the urban changes and how this is subject to unexpected political appropriations and inversions.

Eriksson employs those ideas in Maximum Happiness, which was commissioned for Sheffield Bienniale. Towering over Sheffield like a majestic fort, Park Hill Estate is a landmark building, yet one, which stood abandoned with a ghostlike emptiness. In this period of transition, Eriksson had the façade of the building complex illuminated by floodlights for one night. In her intervention, she shows Park Hill in a visible state of decay, about to be redeveloped into contemporary apartments. The building testifies to the unparalleled vision of an imagined future. The title cites the architects of Park Hill who wrote – although they did their best to fulfil the resident’s wishes- that it is clearly impossible to secure the maximum happiness for everybody. Yet they hoped that Park Hill is a satisfactory “machine for living in”. In the night of its illumination this modern machine – the complex- was allowed to perform one last time, maybe to display its exhaustion, maybe to revivify the promise it once embodied.

Annika Eriksson is a Swedish artist living in Berlin. She has realized numerous projects and commissions such as Shop Front Coherence for Krome Gallery, Berlin, The Parade for Grazer Kunstverein, A Rehearsal/Fable of the Bees for NON-Stage, Istanbul , 2011, Wir sind wieder da for DAAD Galerie, Berlin, I’m still waiting for you for Hayward Gallery, London, The Kitchen and Hannah Arendt Band for Correct me, if I’m critical, Felleshuset and Restaurant Nest, Berlin and Restaurant Yakup, Istanbul in 2010 and Maximum Happiness for Yes, No and Other Options, Sheffield Biennale 2008. She also made commissions as for Venice Biennale 2005, Frieze Projects, Frieze Art Fair, London 2004, Kunstverein Munich 2003 and Sao Paulo Biennale 2002. Eriksson took part in numerous international group shows such as Specters of the Nineties, Marres, Centre for Contemporary Culture, Maastricht, 2011, Squatting/Erinnern, Vergessen, Besetzen at Temporary Kunsthalle, Berlin, 2010. The Greenroom at Bard College, New York, 2008, BerlinNorth, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin 2004, Lapdogs of the Bourgeoisie at Gasworks, London, Platform Garanti, Istanbul, Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm, Townhouse Gallery, Cairo and at Arnolfini, Bristol 2006-2009 and BerlinNorth, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin 2004.

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Annika Eriksson