En Vacker Utställning examines the connection between beauty and ugliness in contemporary art. The exhibition shows the works of twelve Swedish, Finnish, Norwegian and Sami artists and artist couples, who all approach the theme from different perspectives, while crossing the borders of various forms of art.
What is beautiful and what is ugly? Our understanding of beauty is closely bound to culture and time. Beauty is socially acceptable, desired and valued. Beauty requires ugliness as its counterpart. Ugliness is however considered to be a negative quality; it does not abide by rules or accepted norms. Ugliness often represents bad taste, it is unpleasant, or it can even be experienced as threatening; such as issues related to illness, or issues that are spoilt or twisted.
Beauty, and the aesthetic experience related to it, has long been considered the most important objective of Western art. Idealistic beauty was far above everyday and useful issues, political aspirations and human needs. Times have changed, but traditional ideals affect our values, even if we don’t realise it.
In contemporary art, ugliness may be a way for an artist to faze, reveal defects or present the truth. Artists question the concept of beauty, for example through the topic, method of expression or through the colours and materials that are generally considered to be unaesthetic. Sometimes things we consider to be ugly are found to be beautiful when they are observed close up. En Vacker Utställning reveals our perception of beauty and good taste, while challenging viewers to encounter their own prejudices and values of life.
Gerd Aurell (born 1965) and Helena Laukkanen (born 1972) have created an installation for the exhibition that reflects their time in Kiruna, Göken gol från varje väderstreck (2019), which transforms industrial, everyday material into the raw material of the artwork. The 15 metre long artwork Malign:Closure (2019) is the result of a long working process in which Monica L. Edmondson (f. 1963) used materials from her daughter’s time of illness in order to reclaim closure from a period characterized by uncertainty, fear and hope. Lotta Lampa (born 1981) also participates in the exhibition with a new artwork entity, which rejoices the masculine aesthetics of “raggare” and reveals a less valued sub-culture.
The exhibition has been produced by Konstmuseet i Norr.