Uppsala Art Museum proudly presents A Posthumous Journey into the Future. In the exhibition, eight international artists together with Sten Eklund’s series The Secret of Kullahuset, made in 1971, explore how fiction and speculative thinking can generate a different form of understanding of the cultural and planetary crisis we are currently in the midst of. A future that is cancelled or postponed, in many ways. Sten Eklund’s fictional visual narrative is set in the fateful year of 1849, just before Crystal Palace was built and the World Fair in London opened; often described as the breakthrough of consumerism and early industrialism.
“In the summer of 1849, a young J. M. G. Paléen went on a field trip in Sweden. On his walk, Paléen claimed to have come across a strange and silent community he later called the ‘Kullahuset District’—a small area encircled by magnetic fields, seemingly without any human presence but with various activities in full operation—mining, agriculture, and so on.”
This is how the artist Sten Eklund began his story about the young scientist J. M. G. Paléen and his discovery of Kullahuset, an encounter that came to occupy the scientist for the rest of his life. The story unfolds around 53 prints, meticulously etched and hand-coloured using the same methods as for older botanical illustrations.
A Posthumous Journey into the Future aims to offer a perspective on the world where time and space are dissolved, where the historical link between “discovery, conquest and knowledge”, which the author and philosopher Édouard Glissant discusses, can be challenged. Metaphorically, Glissant writes that there are no longer five continents, only archipelagos. He proposes an archipelagic approach, where the sensory and imaginary world is central.
Through video installations, text-based works, objects and prints, the exhibition invites the audience to travel backwards in time, allowing ourselves to visit microbiotic worlds, computer-generated places, magnetic zones and dream states. Here, there is room to mourn the species on the verge of extinction, and for past and present extractivism. The imaginary also offers healing processes—a re-enchantment of the world, where the link to an archaic past is still perceptible, and more-than-human- perspective can be embraced. Several works of art also exist in the interstice, the chasm of unreality and vertigo that we experience briefly in everyday life, when the extent of the climate crisis opens before us.
The artist Sten Eklund, was a printmaker and painter who lived in Uppsala 1942–2009. The Secret of Kullahuset toured extensively in Sweden 1972–73 and was also presented at the exhibitions Discovery and Investigation at Serpentine Gallery in London in 1975, and Live Show 2 at Kunstmuseum Luzern in 1977.
The exhibition comprises of newly produced site-specific installations by Signe Johannessen, Alma Heikkilä and My Lind, meticulously detailed assemblages and paintings by Johannes Heldén, and several video- installations such as Songs from the Compost: Mutating Bodies, Imploding Stars by Eglė Budvytytė, What remains at the ends of the earth? by Imani Jacqueline Brown and Path to the Stars by Mónica de Miranda. In junction with Sten Eklund, several works such as the algorithm-generated card index installation Encyclopedia by Johannes Heldén and Håkan Jonson build on and question the long tradition of Carl Linnaeus and natural science in Uppsala.
A curatorial text, by Rebecka Wigh Abrahamsson is found in the booklet. The exhibition programme contains a series of panel talks, where artists, researcher from various fields discuss fiction and speculative thinking and the role of art in a time of climate change. May, 12–13, 2023. The performance art festival Revolve elsewheres, will take place with artists such as Eglė Budvytytė, My Lindh, Gustaf Broms, Paz Rojo, Norberto Illopis and Kristin Nango performing. Locations in the rural park of Wiks slott and the Uppsala Art Museum. Co-organizers Köttinspektionen—Dance and Uppsala County.