Lina Selander’s films and installations can be read as compositions or thought models, where ideas and conditions are weighed and tested. Representing Sweden at the 56th Biennale di Venezia 2015, she has compiled a group of works and documents describing a migration between utopia and collapse, where technological or ideological development as generators of energy and destruction are inescapably linked.
Lina Selander examines relationships between memory and perception, photography and film, language and image. Her works focus on junctures in history where a system or physical place collapses and something new emerges. Montage is used in the films to create pauses or set images against one another, but also involves the risk of causing perceptual gaps.
Lina Selander is one of Sweden’s most innovative moving image artists. Her films and installations often focus on junctures in history where a system or physical place collapses and something new begins to emerge; the narrative of mechanical cinema giving way to that of digital video, or a political or economic system plummeting into a new one. Her works revolve around images as memories, imprints and representations. Selander’s process is similar to that of the scientist or poet. Each work constitutes a dense archive of facts and observations, occasionally in dialogue with other films, works of art or literature. The precise, rhythmic editing and use of sound in her films generate a unique temporality and strong internal pressure, and take intuitive leaps between associations and meanings.
Selander’s film installations often draw upon historic events, and she uses both essayistic and archaeological approaches to uncover the way private as well as public images define memory or history. Selander’s artistic practice is about finding traces, as much as about leaving traces, her film where the traces of nature and history are aligned with the instruments for surveillance, control, regulation of and production of knowledge in the modern era.
Lina Selander (b. 1973) lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden. Selander’s work has been shown at Iniva (Institute of International Visual Arts) in London, Index – The Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Kunsthall Trondheim and in international group shows such as Seoul Media City Biennale 2014, Manifesta 9 in Genk, Belgium, the Bucharest Biennale 2010 and Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin.
Lina Selander educated at the Art School in Stockholm 1994–1995, Nyckelviksskolan 1995–1996, the School of Film and Photography in Gothenburg 1998–1999, the Royal School of Art in Stockholm 1999–2000 and the Art College Valand in Gothenburg 2002–2003.
In November 2016, she was rewritten by the American art magazine Artnet as one of Europe’s 50 most interesting artists.
Lina Selander is basically a photographer and has in many works been interested in basic conditions for photographic image, such as light, darkness, time, reflections and vision. But more than as a photographer she has become known for her film works, often presented in installation form, where the room is at least as important. Her artistic practice has been similar to archeology, since the works often have a historically exploratory tone and she often relies on film and photo material that she found when digging in archives.
In her work, visuals of caves, mines or excavations recur, and the title of her exhibition at the Venice Biennale was precisely the Excavation of the Image. Radioactivityis another theme that recurs in several works, for example with historical events such as the Hiroshima bomb or the Chernobyl accident, and among other things, in the work Lenin’s lamp glows in the peasants’ hut made so-called radiographs, where she illuminated photo paper with radioactive radiation from various minerals. Other themes that can be mentioned are fossils and money. Selander works with film montage, where she allows documentary material to meet fiction, different stories and pictures meet each other, but she also lets her different works meet and influence each other in the exhibition room, which is why she is also said to work with metamontage.
Lina Selander represented Sweden at the Venice Biennale 2015 at the biennial’s international exhibition. She has also participated in the Kiev Biennale 2015, Seoul Media City Biennale 2014, Manifesta 2012 and Bucharest Biennale 2010.
Selander’s works have been exhibited at, among others, the Institute of International Visual Arts in London, Bonnier’s Art Hall, Gothenburg Art Hall and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm.
She received the Maria Bonnier Dahlin Scholarship in 2005 and the Edstrand Foundation’s Scholarship in 2008.
The exhibition “Excavating of the Image: Imprint, Shadow Spectre, Thought”, show a group of separate works from 2011 to 2015. Lina Selander’s idea is to present them in a kind of overarching meta-montage, which goes well with the form of the individual works, not least because there are references, themes, even images, they have in common.
All works revolve in one way or another around the status of the image, as representation, memory, object, imprint or surface, and our relationships to it. They examine the official representations of historical events as well as the visual languages and apparatuses that produce them, underlining that history in many respects is the history of recording devices and technologies. Also, the works share a relation to the desires and failures of modernity, for instance through the disasters of Chernobyl and Hiroshima, which are juxtaposed with images of nature, cross-referencing the visual effects of photographic, geological and nuclear processes to create new sedimentations of meaning.
Lina Selander has compiled a group of works and documents describing a migration between utopia and collapse, where technological or ideological development as generators of energy and destruction are inescapably linked. Her films and installations can be read as compositions or thought models, where ideas and conditions are weighed and tested.
She examines relationships between memory and perception, photography and film, language and image. The precise, rhythmic editing and use of sound in her films create their own temporality and strong inner pressure. Selander’s works focus on junctures in history where a system or physical place collapses and something new emerges; narratives of mechanical cinema are juxtaposed with digital video, political or economic systems plummet into something new.
Each work constitutes an archive of facts and observations, occasionally in dialogue with other films, art or literature, and is often based on material with a rich story. Image meets text in a flow, where meanings arise out of the ostensibly unrelated, like verses or echoes through and between the works. Montage is used to create pauses or set images against one another, but also involves the risk of causing perceptual gaps. Meta-montage forms a superstructure in Selander’s cinematic installation – in the contrast between the different meanings and materiality of the films and objects, between projection, light and shadow.
Lenin’s Lamp Glows in the Peasant’s Hut
This installation – comprising film, radiographs and a text plaque – is made in dialogue with Dziga Vertov’s film The Eleventh Year from 1928, about the construction of a hydroelectric plant on the Dnieper, juxtaposing it with contemporary footage from nearby Pripyat, a ghost town since the Chernobyl disaster. Images are also included from the Swedish Museum of Natural History and the Chernobyl Museum in Kiev – such as of fossils, the earliest imprints documenting prehistory.
Radiographs displayed in a vitrine corroborate the symbiosis between early photography and the discovery of radioactivity, which, in turn, seems to presage the invisible code of digital photography.
The steel plaque reflecting the moving image and tying the installation together constitutes a mind map of the work. A partly documentary, horizontal narrative intersected by vertical chasms – dipping into material, and finding links between disparate, incompatible parts; as if tracing the process of an archaeologist piecing together the fragments.
Model of Continuation
“Model of Continuation is based on the invisible core of the visible inscription, the image as an interior object and its relationship to seeing and various reproduction technologies. In my work I have attempted to follow an idea of the illusion’s beginning in the simple fact of images, like radioactivity or leakage between layers: vegetation and sporadic work outside the window, the room, the studio environment, the lonely plants, as well as the projection with its different layers of time.” LS
“The material is imbued with an experience that interferes with and modulates that which the camera does not contain: the images. Some sound and images have been borrowed from Children of Hiroshima (Kaneto Shindo, 1952), Hiroshima mon amour (Alain Resnais, 1959) and Hiroshima-Nagasaki, August 1945 (Erik Barnouw, 1970).” LS
Vitrine with radiographs, fossils, stone containing uranium, ancient coin with silphium plant, Anteroom of the Real (video) on an iPad, publications and documents.
Anteroom of the Real
“The film takes its starting point in the deserted town of Pripyat, located within the zone of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. A pair of hands flip slowly through a pile of photographs: images of a model of reactor 4, buildings in Pripyat, books in deserted offices, empty rooms, trashed interiors, pictures of a TV monitor showing a documentary about Chernobyl, etc. As the timelines of the still and moving images cross, the film raises questions about what an editing room is and can be, and about narrativity, time and images.” LS
The film Silphium centres on an ancient coin from the Greek colony Cyrenaica, imprinted with the eponymous, priceless and now extinct medicinal herb. The sense of something lost and obscured is like a filter across the film’s fragmentary historiography; Hans Holbein’s enigmatic painting The Ambassadors, Chris Marker’s 1962 film La Jetée, with its time warp. Selander reveals different layers and experiences of time – geological, cinematic, personal. Footage from the Stasi archive and the Museum of Natural History and Archaeology in Trondheim appears recurrently.
Documentary material meets quotations in a sometimes enigmatic image flow, where some motifs, sounds and words are repeated like obsessions or codes. Attempts at control – over nature, knowledge, technology and people – echo throughout. Selander returns to the phenomena and technologies that have made images possible, thereby enabling the mediation of history; in a quest for the primordial status of the image.
The Offspring Resembles the Parent
Memory is inextricably connected to economy – in the form of capital that we manage or hand down. The title is based on Aristotle’s Politics, in which he argues that it is unnatural for money to increase at interest, since, unlike livestock or crops, it cannot breed. The word memory stems from the Greek goddess Mnemosyne, protector of language and recall, likewise the root for both money and muntze.
The starting point of the film is emergency money of the kind issued in times of crisis and inflation, or for enclaves without a set structure, such as ghettos, concentration camps or colonies. Visually dramatic, the 1920s’ notes in this film hold propagandist messages in word and image. Colonial motifs conjure up an era that, in some ways disastrously, helped lay the foundations for a Western welfare society. A contemplation on fictive economies, dormant power, blind subordination and a hyperinflation of values – human and monetary.
Venice Biennale 2015
The 2015 Art Biennale closes a sort of trilogy that began with the exhibition curated by Bice Curiger in 2011, Illuminations, and continued with the Encyclopedic Palace of Massimiliano Gioni (2013). With All The World’s Futures, La Biennale continues its research on useful references for making aesthetic judgments on contemporary art, a “critical” issue after the end of the avant-garde and “non-art” art.
Through the exhibition curated by Okwui Enwezor, La Biennale returns to observe the relationship between art and the development of human, social and political reality, in the pressing of external forces and phenomena: the ways in which, that is, the tensions of the external world solicit the sensitivities, the vital and expressive energies of the artists, their desires, the motions of the soul (their inner song ).
La Biennale di Venezia was founded in 1895. Paolo Baratta has been its President since 2008, and before that from 1998 to 2001. La Biennale, who stands at the forefront of research and promotion of new contemporary art trends, organizes exhibitions, festivals and researches in all its specific sectors: Arts (1895), Architecture (1980), Cinema (1932), Dance (1999), Music (1930), and Theatre (1934). Its activities are documented at the Historical Archives of Contemporary Arts (ASAC) that recently has been completely renovated.
The relationship with the local community has been strengthened through Educational activities and guided visits, with the participation of a growing number of schools from the Veneto region and beyond. This spreads the creativity on the new generation (3,000 teachers and 30,000 pupils involved in 2014). These activities have been supported by the Venice Chamber of Commerce. A cooperation with Universities and research institutes making special tours and stays at the exhibitions has also been established. In the three years from 2012-2014, 227 universities (79 Italian and 148 international) have joined the Biennale Sessions project.
In all sectors there have been more research and production opportunities addressed to the younger generation of artists, directly in contact with renowned teachers; this has become more systematic and continuous through the international project Biennale College, now running in the Dance, Theatre, Music, and Cinema sections.