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Art Exhibition

The Ghost Ship and the Sea Change

11th edition of Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art

The Ghost Ship and the Sea Change, coincides with the 400-year anniversary of the city of Gothenburg. In response to the occasion, this year’s biennial will have an extended format and open in two stages, transforming along the way. The first part of the biennial opens at Röda Sten Konsthall on 5 June 2021, the same weekend as the city anniversary.  The second part opens on 4 September Konsthallen Blå Stället, Göteborgs Konsthall, Franska Tomten, Museum of World Culture, the Garden Society of Gothenburg, Röda Sten Konsthall, Stenpiren, online, and other venues in the city. All venues stay open until 21 November.

The Ghost Ship and the Sea Change is curated by Lisa Rosendahl and is thematically linked to the 2019 biennial, Part of the Labyrinth.

“The biennial will relate to different historical layers of Gothenburg, asking how the narration of the city´s past might affect its future. The project is focussed on the way artists engage with historical narration, as well as artistic methods of transformation. Looking backwards and forwards simultaneously, The Ghost Ship & The Sea Change will take the form of an archaeological dig and futurological building site concurrently.

The so called “Franska tomten”, a plot of land in the city´s harbour with connections to Sweden’s colonial administration of the Caribbean island Saint Barthélemy (1784-1878) will be used as the narrative starting point and overall “plot” of the biennial. In what way might using the material, historical and symbolic layers of this plot of land as a narrative device alter our way of thinking about the history of the city? What could this physical and narrative plot make visible to us that the public institutions and history books often do not?

Through a critical reading of the site’s colonial past as mirrored by the buildings and organisations occupying it today–the former headquarters of a transatlantic shipping company, the Court of Appeal for Western Sweden, a casino, a museum for migration, the harbour and the sea–the past is shown as part of the present, and Gothenburg as entangled with other parts of the world. International and Swedish artists have been invited to show works that in different ways trace the global flows of goods, ideologies, capital and people that have defined the past 400 years. Exploring the consequences of this past–such as social and economic inequality, structural racism and climate change–the biennial asks if processes that are still ongoing, albeit in different forms than before, should really be referred to as ‘history’?

The double title of the biennial, The Ghost Ship and the Sea Change, alludes to the dual ambition of honouring the ghosts of the past and attempting to move beyond them to create a more sustainable future.”

(Lisa Rosendahl, Curator)