R-Lab: the Mind Department (exhibit)

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 11.53.04

WELCOME TO THE MIND DEPARTMENT AT THE MINDEPARTEMENTET! The Gallery at the Mindepartementet on Skeppsholmen will be featuring the exhibition, “Mind Department” produced by the course participants from this academic year’s R-Lab: Architecture, Cities, Utopias. A parallel installation by R-Lab can also be viewed at the Tomteboda center. The Mind Department includes project installations, the newspaper Baltikan, and copies of this year’s edition of the  R-Lab book on sale at the gallery’s bookstore. At Tomteboda there is a collection of ‘souvenirs’ and a short film from Riga on a souvenir shop.

Some rapid fire images from the review on May 24 (more photos to follow):

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 15.54.00Critics in front of Simon Fagéus’ “Singing Revolution,” Frances Hsu -Aalto University, Christina Pech-KTH, Kieran Long- Arkdes, Bjorn ( ), Simon Battisti- IASPIS, Alessandro Petti- KKH.

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 15.55.22Axel Wieder- INDEX, inspecting Ela Celary’s dream passports from her project “This must be the place.”

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 15.56.16

Guillermo  Arsuaga explaining “Pheasant Island, a Time Threshold to reviewers. Right to left: Guillermo Arsuaga, Axel Wieder, Frances Hsu, Leah Whitman-Salkin IASPIS, Kieran Long.

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 15.56.43

Juanma González pointing out the summer walking route on his map of Gotland, as part of his project Apostlahästar På.

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 15.57.00

Marta Gil in front of her ongoing project  focusing on the Italian ideal city of Palmanova, titled  “I see a Tower,”

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 15.58.05

Interlude: performance piece “Witches, Bitches on the Beaches” with Ella Celary and Liere Mesa.

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 15.59.38

Simon Battisti-Index, describing conditions in Tiranna in the discussion about Vesna Salamon’s “Balkan Fairytale.”

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 16.00.15

A moment of reflection while listening to Leire Mesa (off image) discussing her project “Postcards from Alby.” Left to right: Axel Wieder- INDEX, Jens Evaldsson Exhibition Director,  Bhezad Khosravi- Konstfack, Vesna Salamon, Onkar Kular- HDK Gothenburg, Simon Battisti INDEX.

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 16.00.52

Jens Evaldsson listening to feedback sounds emanating from Anna-Maria Furuland’s “Filtered Feedback Cities.”

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 16.57.32

Gabrielle Iwelumo in the lounge area in Tomteboda on opening night 23 May. On the table top a collection of R-Lab souvenirs, brains, the Occupation Museum Riga, and the Mostar Bridge.

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 17.01.26

Lounge area with souvenirs and a brain slime carpet. Jens Evaldsson on the left, Guillermo Arsuaga standing up in center.

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 17.03.20

Detail of souvenirs (design and fabrication Vesna Salamon).

Screen Shot 2017-05-24 at 17.03.36

Detail of slime carpet, shape of the Baltikan. (design and fabrication: Anna Maria Furuland, Jens Evaldsson and Joanna Sieradzka).


Screen Shot 2017-05-29 at 10.08.32


Overall, the exhibition at Mind Department was well received, with a few of the reviewers who were also invited to last year’s exhibit, Alpha-Beta Ville, commenting that this latest one was more cohesive, and better installed as an ensemble of individual exhibits. One of the main goals of the R-Lab exhibition premise has been to challenge the standard architectural practice of  attaching flat rendered images on the walls with some 3D models. To a great extent the exhibit, Mind Department, turned out to be quite significant for its plurality of expressions, and experimental formats. The, course participants using a number of media to great effect, including live performances.

That said, there were some initial issues raised that called into the question how any architecture and art exhibition, based on only one year’s research and brought into the exhibition environment very late in the process, could properly compete with the kind of work produced by the Fine Art students, who were showing works developed over a number of years. We also chose to rely on the publications, the book and the newspaper, to relay detailed information on individual research and workshops in Mostar and in Riga. The exhibition’s common theme, “Mind Department”  derived from the name of the gallery, Mindepartementet, and mixed inventive slime carpets with brainy souvenirs. Though well received, there is no doubt it would have worked better if we brought the concept in earlier.

I thought it would be very productive to to ask this year’s invited guest critics to send in some comments after the reviews on May 24. Admittedly,  less course participants took advantage of the material workshops and media labs available at Mejan then in the previous years, and the 2 travel workshops to Mostar and to Riga were more time consuming for this year’s pool of R-Lab participants. I was pleased to find that most of the reviewers responded to this opportunity to dig into some deeper concerns, and i would like to quote excerpts from their comments  here below (I publish their comments without name attributions as i don’t think that’s necessary):

  1. Reviewer 1: “…it sometimes felt that there was too much trust in the artistic format, and too little effort, or sense of a need, for further displays of raw research. I’m aware that these kind of displays are often boring, but I still think it’s an important struggle, to deal with material, documentation, stuff that is very close to a direct description of “the world”. I understand the wish to focus, and to translate into a less pseudo-objective format, into something that is more open to interpretation, generative, that reflects on the process etc. But it feels that in some instances a translation into “art” is too easy as a way to get around this pressing question of how to relate to the world.”
  2. Reviewer 2:  “I don’t think that all the projects were so accessible and communicative – perhaps I’m too impatient with the art school tendency to let individual thoughts and feelings have free reign… But that’s my problem, not the students. I enjoyed the projects that were reaching towards universal conditions in a really compelling way.”
  3. Reviewer 3: From that I saw it was difficult to see how the students were critically examining the exhibition format as an additional site for their work, where their body of research was being activated and rethought as part of a mediated tool. I was wondering whether the ‘exhibition’ as a virtual or physical secondary site could be introduced earlier in the programme. Allowing the students to focus towards this as a space to communicate their practices by using aspects of their research combined with some sort of interventional approach. On further reflection and having read the fantastic newspaper and ran through the rich thematic material on the blog, it seems a shame that this aspect of the programme is not more visible within the final exhibition. Finally, it would be great to get a sense of the material and iterative decision making processes of the students – whether included within the exhibition, newspaper or online formats.
  4. Reviewer 4: “I felt that many of the works were unresolved materially in a way that did not necessarily translate as deliberate. Part of this seemed to be a facet of the fact that the participants don’t have such structured practices coming into it, so the works were really more experiments/explorations than they were complete works as such. For me, they felt like beginnings. But I think that’s probably the challenge of a one-year course!”
  5. Reviewer 5: Perhaps I am not just talking about the way that we could present our practices but the possibility of the transparency in our practices. Maybe this lack of transparency which could result to stultification is one of my main concern. One could say it is from feeling insecure: I mystify my practice, stultify the others and hide the main idea that I am concern about hence I don’t get any critics conceivably because I am afraid to share it. It could be sort of agoraphobia. Am I right?
    I am very happy that any of your students didn’t have the tendency of mystification. They were communicative and honest. I respect that. But I am still concerned about the way that we could present our research. … The representation of research it is not a metaphor or neither a phantasm. I see here and there that based on critical perspective we “critical artists” are creating another phantasmagoria.

All in all, a successful, exhibition, especially considering the very sophisticated and insightful comments  your work was able to stimulate among our international group of reviewers. We should be all very happy with the results!




Participants list:

1. Simon Fagéus

2. Ela Celary

3. Marios Salatas

4. Joanna Sieradzka

5. Vesna Salamon

6. Guillermo S.Arsuaga

7. Isabel Löfgren

8. Anna Odlinge

9. Juanma González

10. Hana Vojackova

11. Gabrielle Iwelumo

Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 11.12.12

12. Eva Larsson

13. Anna Maria Furuland

14. Marta Gil

15. Sara Saxton Chirinos

16. Leire Mesa

17. Ela Celary and Leire Mesa

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 10.16.08

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 12.13.02

Screen Shot 2017-05-23 at 11.58.40