Linnea Hansander: TRAGEDY (I can't live if living is without you)

19 May–28 August 2022

The construction of narratives, rituals and myths has consistently accompanied human culture in its contact with death. Tragedy — one of the most important theatrical and literary genres from ancient Greece onwards — deals with crucial issues such as love, pride, loss, fate and power. Its ability to evoke a paradoxical sense of pleasure or solace in spectators through the on-stage portrayal of misfortune or pain was explained by Aristotle as catharsis — a purification and restoration of emotions through dramatic art. If comedy and satire were tools for everyday criticality and joy, tragedy held a major role to elicit growth and intellectual clarification.

In Linnea Hansander’s exhibition at Index, tragedy is reinstated to implement such growth. Confronting and resisting major questions related to time and death, Hansander creates narratives told through multiple voices connecting with emotional senses. In parallel with the traditional construction of drama, the space at Index is divided in three zones. Visitors first encounter a research process conducted by puppets gathered around a table. A dialogue between mechanical voices play out concepts and myths connected with infinite time and prolonged temporalities, floating in the air as the words of a chorus echo the plot.

Next to the research group, a possible scenario of joint performativity is staged. The scene for declamation is near audiences, inviting participation by shortening the distance between narrator and listener. Hansander looks to Karaoke as a method for sharing a possibility for mourning and an alternative sense of loss and from this point of departure, various questions about mourning and loss also appear. The need for ritualistic behaviors has again and again been translated into bits and pieces of feelings. With the help of powerful ballads, broken sentences from popular music have become part of a general vocabulary connecting the personal and the societal, claiming a dramatic representation (including pathetic and hilarious moods that offer revolutionary options, generation after generation).

The third space awaits those who cross over to a velvet-clad partition where visitors activate the space just with their presence; entering the room means to possibly become one of the characters and voices interacting in this space for escapism, desire, feelings and bodies. It is a space for the erasure of time, for joyful rituals and new characters, for new activities and tactile readings of facts and illusions happening at the same level.

The exhibition observes a desire for possible ways to escape, embrace or to resist death and loss and Hansander raises the questions of how to deal, how to share and with which tools. It is a statement about moments of collapsing time, future traumas, dark visions and fate — actions and images result from the need (and impossibility) for answers leading to and transforming into resistance.

Resistance takes form through two songs floating in the background of this exhibition: Without You, a song extremely popularized by Mariah Carey in 1994, is a popular mantra and symbol for the harrowing agony of living without loved ones; and Heaven, by Bryan Adams, in which the feeling of life with love is compared with a place after death.

TRAGEDY (I can’t live if living is without you) is an exhibition expressing life and death, fear and loss, mourning and resistance.

Linnea Hansander (1983, Sweden) received an MFA from Konstfack in 2018. Her practice includes artistic projects, curating, performance, definition of spaces, collaborative situations and a constant flow of interactions with many agents. She was a studio grant holder at IASPIS during 2022 and her work has been shown previously in Sweden (Gerleborgs Konsthall and Strindbergs Intima Teater). The exhibition at Index is her first important institutional solo show.