Sydsvenska Dagbladet, May 1999
Strong, beautiful, important
So, who would really dance with you? You’re so ugly, they don’teven see past you. It’s enough to just see the surface. Let’s face it. You’re just not good enough. If you were gifted with sparkling conversation… But there’s not even that.
Anita Christoffersson’s exhibition ”Who would dance with you” at Ronneby Kulturcentrum (until 30.5.1999) centres on being an outsider, on want, and a longing that is more like a hunger. On blankets, old blinds, boards of masonite and other bits of junkthat look like they’ve come from a loft clearance, she has printed and embroidered her texts: ”I don’t want to”, ”I hate myself”, ”Who would dance with you”, and other expressions of selfdenial, self-contempt, self-pity. Perhaps these are female voices; I am not sure. Self-hatred knows no gender borders: most of us surely have a twinge of it sometimes.
Anita Christoffersson’s exhibition ”Who would dance with you” has a quiet but intense voice. After spending a year at Goldsmith’s College, the prestigious art college in London, and the springboard for many great British artists of the 90s, she has brought together an exhibition that is in stark contrast to most of what is shown today. It is expressive, personal, strongly loaded with emotion without reservation, yet, at the same time, without being stickily private. This is art about important feelings, about something profoundly human.
By revealing her own vulnerability, she shows us our own. It isboth strong and beautiful.
Sydsvenska Dagbladet, May 1999
Anita Christoffersson at Konstakademin
”Have mercy”, written on a worn handkerchief. I read ”Disintegrates the soul” and ”SCARED” on others, next to it. The texts, some in lower-case letters, some in upper-case, are placed in the middle of the handkerchiefs, making them expressions of anxiety and despair.The handkerhiefs – carefully coloured quadrants – are hung in pairs on the walls, the edgings framing the brief messages, reminiscent of the framework of icons.
The words are, in some places, embroidered with thread of almost exactly the same colour as that of the fabric. They appear as a graspable manifestation of the handkerchiefs use, its previous place. In some places the needle used remain, as do the greaseproof paper with pencilled –in writing. Itʼs as though the embroidering has temporarily been laid to side, perhaps to be picked up at a later time. This impression of a process still going on undercuts any tendencies towards pretentiousness , instead giving the pieces a softly spoken precision. This makes for an evocative experience, expressive yet restrained, never sentimental.
Anita Christofferssonʼs small-scale installation in one of Konstakademinʼs light-wells is lowkey and direct, an approach emphasized by pots with geraniums placed on the floor. Next to the rickety plants are some pieces of black coal, tying the room together like so many heavy sinkers. By itself, each piece of work here represents a form of concentrated darkness, yet taken as a whole thereʼs a surprising lightness to the exhibition. The handkerchiefs may reach for religious themes but they are contrasted by some very earthly, sun-bleached blinds next to them, disarmingly whispering ”I donʼt want to, I donʼt want to, I donʼt want to”.
The fact that the words on the handkerchiefs are quotes from the books of Birgitta Trotzig really is of less importance, since these heart-rendering words have such a wide, all too common appeal. Christofferssonʼs choice and treatment of her materials, however, have the same self-evident qualities as the later works, also in textiles, of Louise Bourgeois.
Magnus Bons, www.konsten.net
Jan K Persson on exhibition ‘Have mercy’ Härnösand konsthall, Konsttidningen Volym 2017
What is an exhibition?
Paintings and pictures, one after the other in rows, at eye level, for people to look at. A collection of messages and notices on walls. I pause in front of one, lost in contemplation, inspect more closely if it is a small piece and step back if it is a large one. The floor! Well, there is a room surrounding the picture, which is required for my experience. Is it the flat picture that becomes larger and seemingly transplanted three-dimensionally into the exhibition room where I stand and walk? Or the other way round? If a physical object is displayed on the floor, so that I can move round it and inspect it, will the walls then become outer walls and the piece of art then cover the whole room, so that it can breathe? And I will have to step backwards towards the walls in order to be able to see this artwork?
In Anita Christofferson’s exhibition Forbarma dig (Have mercy) the exhibition area has been fully used although it is largely an empty room. The thinness has been driven to an extreme with pale pictures hung on the white walls which I must examine closely in order to understand. They are thin pieces of material and handkerchiefs elegantly embroidered in small letters, lines from the author Birgitta Trotzig. They are hardly visible, as if disappearing into the material. I don’t want to; Afraid; Don’t disappear! Other pieces are larger, like an old piece of material with an embroidered text that is trying to become more visible: She remained alone; Loneliness is in the whole soul. On a vertical cloth hanging from floor to ceiling are the words measure – be good enough – measure – be good enough – repeated continuously all round in one, almost invisible, line.
The sparseness of the room is emphasised by several large sun-bleached blinds, hung as extra walls, on which the words ‘I don’t want to’ are repeated in small black lines. In a corner of the largest room, three chairs stand in a row in front of a narrow band of crocheted stars, unfinished as though abandoned. The only piece of work in the exhibition that hints at hope and growth is ‘From the darkness’ two ‘living’ objects – flowering geraniums – surrounded by large pieces of coal scattered around the pots as if by some life force. Anita Christofferson explains in the exhibition notes that she wants to show the anguish that mankind is living in, in war, in the shadows, behind locked doors. A passage by KG Hammar emphasises the anguish we may feel, but that art can give shape and voice to our despair and a path to hope.
The exhibition is without doubt a powerful gesture made using the most delicate of expression. But what it conveys most strongly, more than just words of complaint, is the feeling created in the room, like a screenshot, that plays out in the mind of the visitor. It has perhaps more to do with existentialism where we stand alone and apart from things, the loneliness of the room, the moment in time. Some of the faded pieces of cloth have creases like abstract language in a strange form. How were they made? I stand only centimeters from them. Yet when I step back into the room I am struck by an intensity that sparkles throughout the sparse exhibition.
Jan K Persson on exhibition ‘Have mercy’, Translated from Swedish
En bön om medlidande och befrielse – tusentals timmar tyst kvinnoarbete samlas på Härnösands konsthall.
Read PDF review
Katarina Östholm on exhibition at Härnösands Konsthall 2017
Article about Anita Christoffersson
As readers of this blog will know, I am not an art critic; I’m an art recommender and write only about what I like and want, therefore, to share with others. There is enough of negative energy in this world…
I’ve known Anita Christoffersson for over 3 decades, she’s a friend of the house and I am – bear with me – happily biased in what follows.
Today I went to see Anita’s studio in the small idyllic Swedish town of Landskrona…
You can read the full article here; https://obergphotographicsblog.live/2017/06/10/anita-christoffersson-artist-friend/