We are pleased to present Mette Björnberg’s fifth solo exhibition at Galleri Magnus Karlsson. Power Play presents new sculptures and objects in painted wood, textile and mixed media. The exhibition title recurs as the title for a series of nine wall objects, Power Play (no. 1–9), that centres around the female sex. The works have emerged as a reaction to current international politics and events, rather than from a personal story. Mette Björnberg reflects back on a picture of an old Polish woman from a demonstration for abortion rights that had a strong impact on her. The text on her sign read: ’I can’t believe I still have to protest this fucking shit’. The image convinced Björnberg to proceed with this series and work in phase with time and without reservation.
Mette Björnberg’s sculptures are painstakingly simplified with refined craftsmanship using a sound choice of material. The works are often sculpted in wood, painted and with added textile elements. In two major wall pieces, she has worked with hand-blown glass, a medium explored with an award from Ann Wolff Foundation (2016). In this new exhibition, Mette Björnberg shows great courage and a willingness to make herself seen and heard – which permeates both the objects themselves and ideas behind the works.
Historically key artists haunt those who now dare to implement their own trajectories. Let’s play a game where influence becomes muddled, time shuffled, faces blurry – where newly formed stars are mere particles, or in contrast, supermassive blackholes. Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party (1979) may now include a place setting for Mette Björnberg (and other women) whose work exists after Chicago’s triangular porcelain installation. In light of that which miraculously and tragically unfolds, Björnberg provides opportunity to consider her ruptured dish. Each pastel slit and penetrable gash suggests entry into a more lucid state, where no one persecutes and nothing goes punished. Contemporary artists such as Betty Tompkins and Jonas Dahlberg are aware of the rupture’s dangerous allure; their work stands either at risk of censorship or has been unrealized because of it – slash erased from the collective gaze in one bureaucratic sweep. Yet, the provocation of this vulnerable gesture slides along a dubious spectrum. Italian artist Lucio Fontana created torn, ripped and punctured canvases which amply flirt with destruction; yet, these works withstand scrutiny.
The above excerpt is from a text about the new exhibition written by the American-Swedish art critic Jacquelyn Davis. It will also be published in the book about Mette Björnberg that accompanies the exhibition.
Mette Björnberg (b.1963, Gothenburg) lives and works in Södra Mellby, Kivik. She is educated at Malmö Art Academy 1991–1996. She has exhibited regularly in galleries, museums and art institutions in Sweden since the 1990s. She has made a large amount of public commissions, some together with Richard Johansson. In 2015, she received the Ann Wolff Foundation artist award and in 2016 she was awarded with the Asmund and Lizzie Arle Sculpture Prize from the The Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm.