A Letter from 2023

Instability as the social, economic, and political context. Somehow it feels difficult to understand the times we are living in: the world changed with coronavirus and, some years later, the present participle is the most future-looking tense that we can visualize. This is my fifth letter of this kind, the first was in 2019. Since then we have had several years with a high tempo of activities and exhibitions at Index, with ideas and questions to think and work with.

2023 has been a very special year for us with the 25th anniversary of Index as a foundation (after its previous years as both an exhibition space and a magazine, prior to becoming a foundation). We decided to make the longevity of Index visible – including it in our program, which drew lines connecting the 90s till today. We end the year with an exhibition presenting quite young artists (some of them having had their graduation show not that long ago): BODIES AND ANTIBODIES, an exhibition with Malin Hallgren, Cassie Augusta Jørgensen, Maja Malou Lyse and Erika Stöckel. Before this exhibition we presented the work of Catti Brandelius, focusing on her alter ego from the end of the 90s: MISS UNIVERSUM. Feminism and queer theory have been dancing in these two exhibitions; a dance in several time periods, a historical dialogue. In the exhibition with Catti Brandelius we invited in some other voices to reflect on Brandelius’ work from several perspectives, connecting with younger generations. Before these exhibitions, we organized something that we can call also “exhibition” to open Index archive to the public: THE ING- FORM transformed the exhibition space at Index into a research situation. inviting visitors to dig into history but also to think together about futures for institutional structures. Many conversations were recorded during this exhibition, material that is now part of Index’ archive and will be processed and will be shared in future. We opened the year with another dialogue with Index history: we invited Kajsa Dahlberg to do an exhibition at Index, 16 years after her first exhibition with us. And we are glad to see that THE TIDAL ZONE, the resulting exhibition with Kajsa Dahlberg, is now open at Havremagasinet in Boden. It is important for us that artists and their projects are presented and distributed; it is important to share content with other institutions.

Our international focus has been also present within Index’ exhibition program: the collaboration with Secession (Vienna) and KINDL (Berlin) offered us the possibility to co-produce LOOPHOLE, the solo show with Jordan Strafer. The exhibition with Strafer will continue with new chapters in other institutions around the globe. Creating this opportunity was a rewarding way to both establish international dialogues and to present Stockholm as an arena for an international artistic discussion. Following this strand, Index has organized the exhibition THE IMPERSONAL VERB AND THE HIDDEN SUBJECT at La Capella (Barcelona), presenting the work of 10 Swedish artists as well as Index’ working methodology. ITAB (Index Teen Advisory Board) travelled to Oslo to meet their sibling organizations from PRAKSIS (Oslo) and Publics (Helsinki) and we have been presenting Index in international seminars and conferences, being in contact with many institutions, colleagues and art practitioners from many latitudes. Somehow, we need these types of connections if we want to continue working with contemporary art in Sweden. It can sound paradoxical but it’s a reality: the cultural system is being dismantled while this letter is being written and there is no security in a shared, open, and democratic cultural sphere.

We at Index truly believe in our public function: we always open our doors for free, we work actively with many artists, cultural workers, practitioners, and publics. We want to listen to many; we want to be in contact. This is also why we proposed to other institutions in Stockholm to work together in a common project – and in autumn of 2023, together with Mint, we initiated and produced the first iteration of a new art festival: September Sessions. We would like to see more of these type of collaborations at local, national and international level. We would like to continue working with the same will to define realities and futures, ideas and thoughts, languages and emotions.

Thanks again,
Marti Manen
Director, Index Foundation

Read previous letters here:
A letter from 2022
A letter from 2021
A letter from 2020
A letter from 2019