kiara lidén london; stockholm

Serpentine Gallery, London; Moderna Musee, Stockholm
7 October - 7 November 2010; 14 May - 9 October 2011


The monographic exhibition ‘Klara Lidén’ opened in London as one of the Serpentine’s several contributions to the Frieze season. A young artist to receive such a showing, Lidén’s presence within the contemporary art scene has developed swiftly since she drifted from architecture in the early 2000s and most notably with the circulation of her video Paralysed (2000), itself originally produced for an architecture conference. Experiences of space inform the installation, video and print works on view, with ‘space’ overlapping and reverberating through its psychological, domestic and urban dimensions.

Throughout the exhibition the experience of location is expanded to encompass presence and absence, even expulsion, occasionally obstruction, and the recurring void motif is invested with a positive material value. The video 550 (2004) uses a Brooklyn apartment, dense with the accumulated clutter of domestic life, as a found installation environment. Filmed by Lidén during the inhabitant’s absence and without their knowledge, 550 permits glimpses of the artist around corners and through doorways. With her back to the camera and naked from the waist up, Lidén is captured, as though by roaming surveillance, riding a rickety exercise bike and playing an impromptu elegy on an upright piano—always framed by musty domestic detritus.

Lidén’s work is highly sensitive to its exhibition environment; the eerie and ambivalent sensibility that it invokes can easily become lost to unsympathetic spaces. As a solo exhibition Lidén’s diverse works echo and mutually reinforce each other without any collapse into the monotony that can be a risk in the monographic survey. The motif of the obstacle present in Untitled (Poster Painting) (2007-2010), a white poster pasted over a thick section of bill posters lifted from the streets in night-time raids, is reflected in the room filled to capacity with the billboard skins of Toujours Être Ailleurs (Always to be Elsewhere) (2010). More subtly the motif of void within the flat white rectangles of Untitled (Poster Painting) recurs throughout the unpopulated urban environments of videos such as Der Mythos des Fortschritts (Moonwalk) (2008). Similarly, the casual violence of the pasting gesture is made manifest in Bodies of Society (2006), in which the artist off-handedly clubs a bicycle to pieces.

In accumulated effect Lidén’s acute sensitivity to inhabitation and abandonment is underwritten with a strong feminist position, although it would be a mistake to overdetermine this reading. Similarly a latent critique of ‘society’ is present, yet without the overbearing theoretical frameworks/premises/programmatics that tend to characterise this kind of project. Instead Lidén’s is a poetics of the texture of the sensible in its mundane, material and everyday instance, invested and innervated from the position of a break-and-enter curiosity.