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Urban Landscapes – Göteborgs konstmuseum

Fragments, memories, visions

18 March – 12 November 2017

Everyone has their own experience and subjective view of the city as a landscape. Depictions of urban landscapes are common in art since antiquity, and we are constantly reminded of urban life. The city is in a state of continuous change. It is a product of the collective creativity of those who live or move there through commonplace events and practices as well social networks. In the exhibition Urban Landscapes, the Gothenburg Museum of Art invites you on a tour of the city in art. Embrace overlooked and everyday aspects of the city, as well as fantastic and unique images of the condensed urban space.

A city is not only made up of physical buildings, streets and squares. It also carries its own history in the form of the memories and stories of the people who live there. Together, they become interweaved into the soul and identity that gives the city meaning. But a city does not have a fixed form that defines it once and for all. It is constantly evolving, and it is a product of the collective creativity of those who live or move there, through commonplace events and practices as well social networks.

In art, the city is depicted as both a physical and a mental place. Images of the city can be hands-on, like Mark Boyle’s moulding of a paved courtyard, or objectively registered as in the paintings of Torsten Jovinge that show buildings with functionalist architecture. But even in their images, the dream-like and foreign element creeps in. David Molander’s installation based on a big-city bridge is subterraneously suggestive. Palle Nielsen’s linoleum prints and Kristina Abelli Elander’s paintings show us urban fantasies that reflect our own reality, distorted but no less true. AKAY and Carolina Falkholt take the subculture of street art and graffiti as the starting point for their work. A historic parallel is Louise Nevelson’s totem pole built from pieces of wood found on the streets of Manhattan.

In the 1950s, the term ”psychogeography” was invented to describe a method of random wandering that inspired contemporary art and literature. By “getting lost on purpose” and linking psychology and geography, artists sought to capture the feelings and behaviours that occur in interactions with the urban space. The method can be characterised as a kind of drifting movement reminiscent of the flâneur’s, but distinguished by its defined purpose – to gather experiences, ambiences, and stories associated with the city. The point was to shake people’s habitual movement patterns and mental maps in order to become aware of the city’s hidden meanings, psychological as well as political.

The artist’s approach to the city is often concentrated and methodical but at the same time free from the requirement of productivity, in contrast to the everyday person’s determined steps through the city with their eyes firmly fixed on their smartphone. In this sense, the work of the artist can be described as a psychogeographical exploration of the unknown. The artist discovers the city, not necessarily by depicting it, but also by documenting fleeting sensations or expressing experiences and memories.

Art constantly reminds us of cityscapes and urban life. In artworks from the collection of the Gothenburg Museum of Art – ranging from video works, installations and sculptures to paintings, prints and photography – the exhibition presents the urban landscape as fragment, memory and vision.