Artist, writer, film maker. Born 1962 in Sweden. Lives and works in Stockholm, Sweden.
Bärtås’ art has also been shown at Modernautställningen, Moderna Museet (in 2006 and 2010), at the 4th Bucharest Biennale in 2010 and at the 9th Gwangju Biennale, South Korea in 2012. A larger retrospective exhibition was shown at Göteborgs Konsthall in 2016.
Along with Fredrik Ekman, Bärtås has published five books of essays. The latest of these publications is Bebådaren – Gabrielle D ́Annunzio och fascismens födelse (The Annunciator – Gabrielle D ́Annunzio and the Birth of Facism, Bonniers Publications 2017). Alla monster måste dö (All Monsters Must Die) was nominated to the August Prize in the category non-fiction in 2011.
Bärtås video essay Madame & Little Boy won a notable prize at the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival in 2010, and his latest film The Strangest Stranger was nominated the best Nordic documentary in CPH:DOX in Copenhagen in 2017.
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’’Numbered, numbered, weighed and they are divided. (Daniel 5:25)
During a drunken feast held by King Belshazzar the mysterious writing on the wall appeared by a disembodied hand. This was the omen of the downfall of the Babylonian Empire. This biblical appearance of the handwriting is perhaps the starting point of a long history of warning texts: the papal bull of excommunication, the proscription, the epitaph/epigram, the tablet of law, as well as all kinds of warning signs, visual injunctions and exhortations that create a relation of interpellation to the viewer. I believe that most texts installed in an exhibition space bear traces of this archaic impact.
In a series of cut-out embroidery works I have created my own font which is assembled by combinations of animals, plants, objects and body parts. The different handicraft techniques that underpin these image worlds belong to slowness, the private sphere but could also be seen to express encapsulated time and creative power. The parts origin from an antiquated, sometimes idealizing imagery (some of the local patterns are dating back to the 18th century), at the same time cross stitch embroidery is a forerunner of the digital image’s pixel structure. It is a realm of images that is perhaps associated with farmer’s words of wisdom, with moralities (in word and image), which have essentially developed out of fear and – as I see it – are related to incantation.
The Three Great Stimulants are quoted from a song by Joni Mitchell, which in turn is a citation from Nietzsche’s book about Wagner (The Case of Wagner). In her song Joni Mitchel warns for a new sort of populism targeting ’the exhausted people’, which in fact is a century old populism called fascism. The combination of artifice, brutality and innocence – in that very order – has allured and stimulated people during the last century, like a magic trick repeating itself. And perhaps the attraction is stronger now than ever before, as history has not made us immune.’’
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The Three Great Stimulants, 2019
Cut out embroidery on canvas
159 x 259 cm
90 000 SEK