Saturday, February 7, 2015

Text about the Spring Exhibition Series at the Vita Kuben, Umeå Sweden

For the Spring exhibition season at the Vita Kuben artist Mary Coble has been invited to curate a series of three shows. 

In line with Coble's current research project on manifestations of resistance, the artist has invited collaborators Jeuno JE Kim and Ewa Einhorn as well as Sidsel Meineche Hansen to exhibit work that also engage in critiques of and resistance to power, privilege, normativity and categorization. For the final exhibition Coble will show work at Vita Kuben in dialogue with a live performance as part of MADE 2015, Umeå’s performing arts festival.

Jeuno JE Kim and Ewa Einhorn's short film Whaled Women (2013) is a satirical critique of current demands for assimilation. It takes place in the fictional town of Krabstadt where the Nordic countries place their 'unwanteds': immigrants, long-term unemployed and criminals. A group of women wash up on Krabstadt's shores after fleeing an ecological disaster, and the following integration process reveals the system's hypocrisy, intolerance and xenophobia. Appropriating the form of the typically U.S. male dominated animated sitcom with the incision of a queer feminist, European perspective Whaled Women insist on the need to resist the Nordic self-image as non-colonial and all-inclusive.

Sidsel Meineche Hansen’s series of woodcut block prints with titles such as Toxic Institution, 4ever mortgage, Torture me so I can learn and OCD.CBT.OD. (2013) is part of her ongoing inquiry exploring nervousness as a form of institutional critique and as resistance towards becoming human capital through professionalization. She describes each print as a micro-political diagram. Meineche Hansen’s focus expands in part through her latest video work Seroquel® (2014) where she considers the pharmaceutical industry as an "emotional-industrial complex that allow capitalism to enter our relationship to ourselves.” Her work can be seen as a critique of society's bio-political normalization and disciplining of the individual. 

Kim/ Einhorn's and Meineche Hansen’s works are insistent with humor, mimicry, institutional critique, poetry and critical unruliness. According to Coble these qualities have the power to resist the dominating narratives of mainstream society, such as standards of success, adaptation to the norm and fear of failing.  Coble’s own works add a focus on explicitly queer strategies of resistance.

In Coble’s Gestures of Defiance (2015), attention is on the raised, clenched fist as a symbol of resistance. Historically activated in various political protests, Coble considers images of the fist in connection with contemporary events such as LGBT Pride marches, which initially grew as social activist movements with the desire to claim space and create visibility. Coble questions both the heteronormativity and homonationalism that in part is seen through the commercialization of marches such as Pride today. Using banners and flags from various contexts in the installation at Vita Kuben the artist calls for a reclaiming of the raised fist as a sign of solidarity with those who are not in a position of privilege or visibility today.  In the live piece for MADE 2015 Coble re-appropriates the raised fist as an embodiment of repeated defiant gesture.


Jeuno JE Kim och Ewa Einhorn , Whaled Woman

Sidsel Meineche Hansen ,  Seroquel XR 


Mary Coble, Gestures of Defiance

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