Manipulate the World

Exhibition, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden.


From October 21, 2017 until January 21, 2018
Can a work of art make you question the way you see the world? Can it change your concept of reality? Welcome to a contemporary group exhibition examining what Öyvind Fahlström’s ideas of manipulation and the theatrical might mean today. The presenation takes over both floors of the museum, with 28 Swedish and international artists responding to these questions through works that react and infringe upon the world. This marks the culmination of a long-running project about the artist Öyvind Fahlström that began in 2014 and includes exhibitions, publications, research, and special programmes.
Fahlström (born in 1928 in São Paulo, d. 1976 in Stockholm) was one of the most innovative and versatile artists of the 20th century. When he developed a series of paintings with variable parts in the 1960s, his intention was not merely to make the content of the painting moveable, but also to express an approach to society and politics. Fahlström was part of a zeitgeist that sought to do away with static and authoritarian narratives. He wanted to demonstrate that the world can be “manipulated” by anyone and shaped by participation and play. This exhibition asks what manipulative potential art has today.
World Trade Monopoly (B, Large) and Dr Schweitzer’s Last Mission (Öyvind Fahlström, 1970 and 1964-66 respectively) are shown on Floor 4. The latter is a large installation comprising fragments of information and images combined into a scenographic tableau. The work is in the form of pieces of a game distributed on a surface where fact, fiction and irrationality are mixed in a scenario with an open end. This part of the exhibition puts the theatrical in motion in a similar way, and asks how speculative enactments can manipulate the world. Dr Schweitzer’s Last Mission was named after the German-French theologian Albert Schweitzer, whose missionary medical work in Africa places the installation in a post-colonial discourse. Several works on this floor relate to thoughts on power relationships and historiography.