Spring opening at Röda Sten Konshall: Delcy Morelos / Annika Dahlsten & Markku Laakso

Press release  •  February 2th 2018

The spring exhibitions at Röda Sten Konsthall begin with two solo shows: Inner Earth by Delcy Morelos and Diorama by Annika Dahlsten and Markku Laakso. Through distinct perspectives and in a variety of media, the exhibitions address notions of (not) belonging and identity, conditioned by such qualities as skin colour, cultural traits, a body’s relation to the land or affinity.

These exhibitions are the first curated by Mariangela Méndez Prencke at Röda Sten Konsthall. Méndez Prencke says:
”We often take pleasure in finding differences, in labelling and categorizing. The interest currently shown in borders and identity affirmations is manifest in forms ranging from simple preservation of local traditions to violent expressions of xenophobia. At Röda Sten Konsthall we believe it is relevant to present contemporary art projects that challenge ethnic preconceptions and misrecognition, in times of increasing racism, nationalism and intolerance.”
Tierra Adentro / Inner Earth, is the title of Delcy Morelos’ grand installation, conceived especially for the second floor (Katedralen) at Röda Sten Konsthall. Initially a painter, Morelos now works primarily with large-scale site-specific installations. With Swedish soil as raw material, she has created an environment, a piece of land, to situate the viewer into a direct relationship with the commanding materiality, tactility and scale of a field of colour.
The title Inner Earth relates to what we are made of, as for Morelos the materiality of painting becomes a metaphor for the composition of the body itself: “I am living earth, creative, fertile, vital. Soil is the origin, the base, the common ground; sacred since it is a fundamental principle of life. In fact, the soil is the skin of the earth, when stripped of its vegetative layer, the landscape looks naked, bare; it shows its colour.”
Morelos, of indigenous Embera background, grew up in Córdoba, one of the areas most impacted by paramilitary confrontations in the late twentieth century in Colombia. This exposure to strife and violence has been channelled into her work through an exploration of different tones of red, from the palest blush to the darkest brown. Thus, for Morelos, colour is not only a characteristic of painting, 
but a cultural construction. It is the colour of the skin that we embrace or reject, the colour of the fertile ground or of the wasteland. Just as it also is the colour of the soil where the roots of violence prosper; an awareness acutely present in her work.
Diorama, a project developed since 2011 by artists Annika Dahlsten & Markku Laakso, brings together works inspired by Markku Laakso’s family history and the complex collective history of the Sami. As is narrated in the video animation “Camp Fire in The Zoo”, Laakso’s great-grandparents, Simoni and Ella-Stiina Laakso, travelled in 1930 from their native village Enontekiö to Germany, to be displayed as Sami in various zoos on the European continent. At the time, in zoos or fairs across Europe, indigenous or ”exotic” peoples such as the Sami were featured in this way. 
Through photographs, animations and video works, the artists have articulated and documented a journey from Finnish Lapland, via Germany, to southern Africa. This expedition, in its multiple phases, has been done with the thought to revisit and restage the great-grandparents’ experiences when exhibited—as in a diorama—to a European audience. The resulting images juxtapose the historical narrative with new encounters and situations staged in a variety of landscapes from arctic to tropic. The works speak of degrees of belonging and of shifting or unstable identities. The performative nature of their work question notions of authenticity: Who - and where and when - has the right to define what is real, true and original? 
 ”Our artwork comments on the legacy of colonialism. As a photography site, Namibia can seem far away, but it is historically known for the Finns. Although Finland never had colonies in Africa, it dreamed of having one, and after World War I, many missionaries went to Amboland, present-day Namibia. Our work trip to this country gave us a new perspective on ideas of exclusion and originality. But it also confirmed that ideas about us and them are still present in our society.”
Artists bios
Delcy Morelos (1967, Tierra Alta, Colombia) is one of the most recognized Colombian artists of her generation. She has exhibited her work since 1990 in Colombia and abroad (USA, France, Sweden, Norway, Cuba, Mexico, Finland, Ireland, Morocco, Australia). Has done many artists residencies and has participated in the Mercosul Biennial, the Cuenca Biennial, and the Havana Biennial among others. Her work puts the emphasis in the contemplation of a material, its corporeality, to reveal the wide implications of a hegemonic politics of colour. She lives and works in Bogotá.
Annika Dahlsten (1975, Vasa, Finland) & Markku Laakso (1970, Enontekiö, Finland) are an artist-duo interested in exploring and revising historic representations of otherness. Together they have exhibited their joint projects since 2011 in Reykjavik, Karasjok, Oslo, Medellín, Rauma, Turku and Helsinki among others. They have done artist residencies in South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Finland and Iceland. In addition to working as a duo, Annika Dahlsten works as an animator and printmaker while Markku Laakso is known for his series of realistic paintings. They live and work in Turku, Finland.
What? Opening of two solo exhibitions: 
Inner Earth by Delcy Morelos and Diorama by Annika Dahlsten & Markku Laakso
When? 02.10.2018 – 04.15.2018
Where? Röda Sten Konsthall, Gothenburg
Opening Program
February 10th, noon - 6 pm
1 pm Opening Words. Director Mia Christerdotter Norman give an Opening Speech. Curator Mariangela Mendez Prencke introduces the exhibitions.
2.30 pm Artist talk with Delcy Morelos, Annika Dahlsten and Markku Laakso
Throughout the duration of the exhibition, we will also host an artist talk, two lectures, and a series of activities that depart from the questions formulated by the exhibitions, as part of our pedagogical program.
Press images: Delcy Morelos
Press images: Annika Dahlsten & Markku Laakso
Note: the images can only be used when mentioning Röda Sten Konsthall and the exhibitions. The photographer's name must be in the byline. If you need high-res images, please contact us.

Contact Röda Sten Konsthall
Petra Landström, communicator
031-12 08 46

Mariangela Méndez Prencke, curator
031-12 08 46