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screening and discussion | Presentation by the curator Anders Kreuger of the film “Kira Carpelan” by the artist Miriam Bäckström

Miriam Bäckström and Anders Kreuger have collaborated, often intensely, for the last four or five years. Their collaboration has ranged from the rather conventional division of labour between an artist and a curator to the joint preparation of texts based on in-depth conversations and the complex entanglement of mutual consultation and inspiration. Both the artist and the curator enjoy ‘saying what cannot be said’ and ‘doing what cannot be done’.

This becomes manifest in the film Kira Carpelan, which tells the story of Miriam Bäckström’s year-long collaboration with a younger colleague. The starting point was that Miriam Bäckström asked thirty-two-year-old Kira Carpelan to do the exhibition at Färgfabriken, to be entitled Kira Carpelan Presented by Miriam Bäckström. Kira Carpelan was offered full access to Miriam Bäckström. She could use her works, notes, knowledge, resources and networks. Kira Carpelan would be in full control of the exhibition, whereas Miriam Bäckström would continuously film their working process and be in full control of the edited film.

In the film Kira Carpelan (78 min) we see a young artist trying to work within a concept defined by another, more experienced artist. Kira Carpelan decides to do a film for the exhibition at Färgfabriken. She asks Miriam Bäckström to act in it together with Rebecka Hemse, the professional actor Miriam Bäckström had worked with for her two previous films. At the same time Kira Carpelan reinvents herself as the character ‘Trainee’ for herself, to manage the situation of being filmed by Miriam Bäckström. Miriam interviews this character throughout the process and invites Anders Kreuger to participate as the often obnoxious character ‘Coach’.

That, of course, is a breech of art world etiquette. The curator is usually not supposed to be physically visible in the work that he helps produce and promote. Kira Carpelan was first shown, in a preliminary version, in the exhibition Art of the Possible, which Anders Kreuger curated at Lund Konsthall in January 2007.

Miriam Bäckström and Anders Kreuger have talked about Kira Carpelan as ‘an exercise in speculation’. Speculation is also a topic discussed in the conversations and interviews that feature prominently in the film. When ‘Trainee’ refuses to speculate, she also refuses to ‘do her own work’ for the exhibition. Ultimately, she even refuses to ‘become an artist’. Kira Carpelan is a challenging project, which provokes established notions of collaboration, documentation and decorum. It talks about things that cannot be talked about, and shows things that cannot be shown.

Swedish artist Miriam Bäckström (b. 1967) became known for her photographic work in the late 1990s. She participated in the Venice and Istanbul biennials in 1999 and in many international biennials and group exhibitions since. She has had numerous solo exhibitions, notably at the ICA in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Basel and Färgfabriken in Stockholm. At the Venice Biennial in 2005 she authored the work Amplified Pavilion in the Nordic Pavilion, together with Carsten Höller. Since 2004 she has worked mostly with film and text projects. Recent works include the films Rebecka (2004), The Viewer (2005) and Kira Carpelan (2007) as well as the book Anonymous Interviews (2004).

Swedish curator Anders Kreuger (b. 1965) is Director of the Malmö Art Academy and Exhibitions Curator at Lund Konsthall in Sweden. He is also member of the Programme Team for the European Kunsthalle in Cologne, adviser to the Raqs Media Collective in their capacity as curators of Manifesta 7 in Bolzano and member of the Editorial Board for the art journal A Prior in Ghent. In addition, he is active as an independent curator and initiator, with artist Praneet Soi, of the project Calcutta Art Research. Upcoming exhibitions include The Continental Unconscious. Contemporary Art and the Finno-Ugrian World at Kumu Art Museum in Tallinn in March and Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein: For and Against at Lund Konsthall in September.