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The Language of Friction is Uttered from Within


Friktionens språk yttras inifrån / Frikshuunin kieli selitethään sisältäpäin / The Language of Friction is Uttered from Within 

In the exhibition, The Language of Friction is Uttered from Within, by Karin Keisu & Josse Thuresson, narratives that have been forced out to the periphery are made visible and create a multifaceted language that illustrates the tension and friction directed towards the normative society.

The agency of the exhibition takes physical form by linking several different, often isolated stories, which together direct the gaze towards superior power structures. At the intersection, the minority languages Meänkieli and Swedish Sign Language are brought to life, as well as queerness – non-binary, gender-fluid expression, cross-border beauty ideals and unrecognisability – in relation to history, public spaces and queer beauty salon culture.

The artistic duo Karin Keisu & Josse Thuresson examine language policy, queer spaces, and the strength that comes from being on the margins, artistically and with the help of historical elements and poetic interruptions. The Language of Friction is Uttered from Within approximates the charge between the artists, which becomes a friction point for artworks that both linguistically and visually, in the form of unevenness and adhesion between different forms of expression, illuminate marginalised narratives and their potential to challenge the normative image of Sweden. 

Subversively, the artistic intention in the exhibition is emphasised the perception of the intrinsic force that exists in the margins and its potential to criticise oppressive structures. Marginality can therefore be considered through the exhibition as something not to be disregarded in exchange for being centralised – but rather a place to stop and cling to, as it nurtures radical perspectives on an alternative reality.  

The friction that is given form in the exhibition can thus be perceived as an invitation that formulates alternative constructions linguistically of different categories of individual and collective identities. The subversive language in the exhibition articulates the desire to avoid incomplete representation systems and non-representative divisions of identity politics. The artistic duo accentuates this in a collective depiction of the Swedish state's sovereignty and its history of oppression in counterbalance to the tension that can arise in the non-hegemonic space. In a subversive act, the language in The Language of Friction is Uttered from Within is not only considered as a means of communication – but what binds us together, a culturally rooted expression, a bearer of history.

The exhibition is curated by Hampus Bergander, Konstmuseet i Norr. The exhibition catalogue is available in Swedish, Meänkieli and English.


Karin Keisu (b.1995, Tornedalen) and Josse Thuresson (b.1992, Stockholm) have been working as an artistic duo since 2018. They work with film, performance, text, media art and organising exhibitions on issues concerning themes such as minorities, queer culture, Tornedalen, and language policy – with a special focus on Meänkieli and Swedish Sign Language.

In 2020, Keisu and Thuresson received the international award KINO DER KUNST Project Award in Munich for the project idea My tongue is a 10 cm long Swedish flag after being nominated from among 50 art and film schools. The €5000 prize was introduced to help young European artists and filmmakers produce new single- or multi-channel works that transcend the boundaries of traditional filmmaking and present new ways of conveying a story.

Keisu and Thuresson both have a Master in Fine Art from Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm (2020–2022) and a Bachelor of Fine Art from the Oslo National Academy of the Arts (2017–2020). In 2019, they studied Post Conceptual Art Practices at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna.

The artistic duo has previously participated in, among others, Ergi presents at BOA in Oslo (2021), Young Arctic Artists at Gallery Napa & Studio Mustanapa in Rovaniemi and Alta Kunstforening, Alta (2021), KINO DER KUNST in Munich (2020), STRUKTURA. Time at The Wrong Biennale for Digital Culture (2019) and also the Athens Festival of Queer Performance in Athens (2019). 

Read an interview with the artists here.