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reviews KLara LIden
Klara liden
The hayward ProjecT SPace, London
22 novem ber – 17 january
Swedish artist Klara Liden’s solo show at the Hayward Gallery’s Project finger pointed (or rather raised) at the dos and don’ts of public etiquette.
Space, comprising only four videos, leaves aside the installations of As in Bruce Nauman’s No, No, New Museum (Clown Torture Series) (1987),
scavenged materials that made her name in the US. In Bodies of Society the artist’s refusal is absolute. And as in most of her work, Liden exults a
(2006), Liden circles, crowbar in hand, around a bicycle in an empty living vivifying punk energy, and this energy is her production’s strongest quality
room: from the start, the destruction of the bike is the obvious endgame, but – certainly its strength doesn’t lie in the clarity or focus of her discourse. In
she repeatedly delays it, caressing the frame with her rod almost erotically an artworld that overprivileges any form of political engagement, she has
before smashing it to bits. Bodies of Society, the title of which alludes to been labelled an activist. But this is to confuse activism with activity: Liden
the uproar caused in Sweden by a homophobic Christian pastor who is certainly energetic, but her noisy protest draws more on adolescent rage
described homosexuality as ‘a horrible cancerous tumour in the body of than on any kind of coherent political thought.
society’, couples violence with domesticity and evokes dramas happening Liden’s first exhibitions, in 2004 and 2006, provoked waves of
behind closed doors. Yet looking for literal meanings or direct references is applause from an international press which praised her radicalism in
pointless in Klara Liden’s works; her video performances function like cries challenging social conventions. Yet established codes of behaviour need a
of protest directed at everything all at once. bit more than a jolt to crumble. As charismatic, amusing and even unsettling
In the past, Liden manifested her drive to resist by adopting the as Liden may be, her anger is played out for itself, about herself. This lack of
strategies of the hippy urban subversive, setting up a free postal service didacticism may be refreshing in a time when political art is dominated by
in her native Stockholm or building a shelter from discarded planks on the the patronising voices of artists like Santiago Sierra and Jota Castro, but in
banks of Berlin’s River Spree. In the video Paralyzed (2003) she dances Liden’s work we are not invited to think, nor to act, merely to witness.
frenetically in a Stockholm commuter train, gradually stripping off as she Coline Milliard
throws herself about and crawls in and out of the luggage rack. Taking its
title and soundtrack from the Legendary Stardust Cowboy’s 1968 hit, this
Still from Paralyzed, 2003.
video was Liden’s contribution to a seminar on Stockholm public space, a © the artist.
117 artreview
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