News // Solo-exhibithion: Thicker than water 23.9-12.11.2017

From the series “Selfportrait as Mannerheim” (2017)

22 September 2017
5-7 pm


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Gallery Elverket’s autumn season is being opened by Carl Sebastian Lindberg, a visual artist who delves deep into the social issues affecting Finland’s recent history. His works combine personal and universal experience, transforming them into totally new narratives. Lindberg deals with the mystique linked to national feeling, and to nationalism in general, and brings up alternatives to historical interpretations that are seen as being universal.

The body of works being shown at Elverket is Lindberg’s (1978) hitherto most extensive solo exhibition. There for our inspection are new and recently created works by this multifaceted artist. Carl Sebastian Lindberg gained his Masters of Fine Arts degree from the Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki in 2008, and has since been an active contemporary artist. His works have been shown in various parts of the world. The moving image and photography are his principal media, but he is also a founder member of the Speech Karaoke project. At Speech Karaoke people give speeches, instead of singing.

The exhibition comprises four works or composites. Home and Country (2013) is a videowork that “deals with my aunt, the author Ann-Mari Lindberg’s, experiences as a child during the Winter and Continuation Wars. The work’s starting point is a microhistorical one, I have chosen to relate some minor incidents in a child’s life, but through them also some major events in history. For example, the outbreak of war is dealt with through the way Ann-Mari’s father bought gasmasks for the whole family, and the way her mother sewed snowsuits for the children – similar snowsuits to those that soldiers at the front wore. The military alliance with Nazi Germany during the Continuation War is touched on when Ann-Mari talks about how it felt to do the Hitler salute and to march in step at Helsinki’s German school, which she attended until 1944.”

World Champions (2013) is a video about Finland winning the ice-hockey world championship in 2011. Lindberg has been interested in the mass reaction that followed this victory, and the variety of expressions that people’s feelings took on. The viewer gets to participate in the spontaneous joy, but also in some totally different aspects of the effervescent party atmosphere, which was spiced with a substantial measure of national feeling. The exhibition coincides with the premiere of Red heritage (2017), which was produced by Pro Artibus. This is a documentary dealing with the events of 1918, and with the vestiges of them that still live on. Lindberg’s paternal grandmother’s father, Antti Meritähti, was in the Red Guard, and was imprisoned in Tammisaari until 1919. The documentary deals with the way people in various positions related, and still relate, to the family’s red heritage. This is a story about how a family maintained silence and felt shame, and about the traumas that remain for those who were on the losing side during the civil war. Red heritage is the first of Lindberg’s works that the Pro Artibus Foundation is acquiring for its collection.

The fourth item in the exhibition, Selfportrait as Mannerheim, reveals a more playful side to Lindberg’s art. This involves a series of photographs in which Lindberg replaces the face of Finland’s Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim (1867-1951) with his own. The iconic photographs of Mannerheim in various situations instantly become something totally different. The pictures tell us something new about the artist, but also about the viewer’s own reactions.

During the autumn, Carl Sebastian Lindberg will also be participating in two other exhibitions: Raumo Art Museum’s Korkeemman kaiun saa and the Backlight Photo Festival at Museum Center Vapriikki in Tampere. The artist would like to thank everyone who has supported the project: Avek, Konstsamfundet, Arts Promotion Centre Finland, Nylands konstkommission, Oskar Öflunds Stiftelse, Eugène, Elisabeth och Birgit Nygréns stiftelse, Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland (Lise och Thelma Standertskjölds fond), Greta och Alfred Runebergs Stiftelse and Pro Artibus Foundation.

Juha-Heikki Tihinen, PhD