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PLAY! Recapturing The Radical Imagination

07.09. — 17.11.13

PLAY! Recapturing the Radical Imagination
The thematic approach for GIBCA 2013 started with a desire to investigate and critically reflect on the notions of play and radical imagination as two important ingredients of the artistic and political discourse. While playfulness seems to have permeated artistic strategies during the last century, radical imagination has provided a space for encounter and a frame for thought and action in today’s political struggles. Meanwhile related experiments with curatorial models and strategies that have characterized the last decades constitute an important effort to rethink the framework of cultural production. However, the role and understanding of either notion and of the seamless relation between them have undergone constant changes, reflecting the new conditions of our time and giving rise to a number of questions, such as: What is the transformative power of play? How do forms of playfulness affect or help manifestations of radical imagination? What does indeed constitute radical imagination? 


Reflecting on the above, Play! Recapturing the Radical Imagination was explored through the individual contributions of four curators: Katerina Gregos, Claire Tancons, Joanna Warsza and Ragnar Kjartansson in collaboration with Andjeas Ejiksson. The biennial does not lay claim to final and universal formulations regarding the nature of play or the ownership of imagination, neither does it have a “one-size-fits-all” answer to the above questions. By using the agency of play to deconstruct established systems of meaning, GIBCA rather aimed to create an ecstatic space that remains open and expectant; a space of encounter, learning, and disruption. The different curatorial episodes and the works of invited artists reflected on manifold issues of affection, memory, radical sexuality, being on the edge, political satire, and possibilities for the future. Together they constituted a dynamic meeting point for creative playfulness and forms of activism, social experimentation and fictional narratives, philosophical deliberation and possibilities of reflection. 

The Politics of Play
Curated by Katerina Gregos 


Venue: Röda Sten Konsthall

Artists: Nabil Boutros (Egypt/France) / Ninar Esber (Lebanon/France) / Parastou Fourouhar (Iran/Germany) / Jorge Galindo & Santiago Sierra (Spain) / Guerilla Girls (USA)  / Nevan Lahart (Ireland) / Tala Madani (Iran/USA) / Otobong Nkanga (Nigeria/Belgium) / Roberto Paci Dalò (Italy) / Pavel Pepperstein (Russia) / Qiu Zhijie (China) / Fernando Sanchez Castillo (Spain) / Marinella Senatore (Italy) / Olav Westphalen (Germany/Sweden) / Wooloo (Martin Rosengaard & Sixten Kai Nielsen) (Denmark) / Liv Strömquist (Sweden) / Luc Deleu T. O. P Office (Belguim)

Katerina Gregos‘s exhibition The Politics of Play at Röda Sten Konsthall explored the relationship of art and politics by way of the radical imagination and the agency of play through the work of artists who eschew banality, didacticism, political correctness, and the literalistic re-presentation of reality and instead harness fantasy, poetry, provocation, subversive humor, theatricality, disguise, and transformative leaps of the imagination to talk about current critical political issues. 

Curated by Ragnar Kjartansson in collaboration with Andjeas Ejiksson


Venue: Stora Teatern, 2-day long performance/exhibition, 7–8 September

Artists: Carolee Schneemann (USA) / Spartacus Chetwynd (UK) / Margrét Helga Sesseljudóttir (Iceland) / William Hunt (UK) / Nanna Nordström (Sweden) / Eunhye Hwang (Korea/Germany)

The intense two-day show Weight, curated by artists Ragnar Kjartansson and Andjeas Ejiksson at Stora Teatern, rested on the carnal and the physical existence. It was an effort to gain a sense of weight: the weight of the boundaries of existence and of a building and its history. Carolee Schneemann and her exploration of the politics of desire, sexuality and gender through the body was an important inspiration why experimental expressions and liberation stands in the centre of the show. 

AnarKrew: An Anti-Archives
Gothenburg Carneval on Record

Curated by Claire Tancons


Venues: Göteborgs Konsthall and Hasselblad Center as well as Götaplatsen, Esperantoplatsen, Kungsport Avenyn, the port of Göteborg, and Nefertiti Jazz Club


Artists: Roberto N Peyre (Sweden) / Andreas Gedin (Sweden) / New Beauty Council & MYCKET (Sweden) / Jean-Louis Huhta (Sweden) / Psychic Warfare (Sweden) / Nicoline van Harskamp (the Netherlands) / Deimantas Narkevicius (Lithuania) / Karol Radziszewski (Poland) / Sonia Boyce (UK)

Claire Tancons‘s exhibition and performance project AnarKrew: An Anti-Archives – Göteborg Carnival on Record took the archives of the forgotten Göteborg Carnival (1982–1993) as a starting point and the so-called Göteborg Riots (2001) as a temporary closure. AnarKrew set out on an undocumented journey into Göteborg’s counterculture and its wider ramifications across Northern Europe. The exhibition took place at Göteborgs Konsthall and Hasselblad Center and the performance program at Götaplatsen, Esperantoplatsen, Kungsport Avenyn and Nefertiti Jazz Club. A special issue of Glänta journal was also published as part of the project.

Art and Crime—Legally on the Edge 
A Forensic Exhibition in the Backwaters of Gothenburg

Curated by Joanna Warsza 


Venue: Kajskjul 207 – Lilla Bommen/Gullbergskajen

Artists: Tania Bruguera (Cuba/USA) / Forensic Architecture & Füsun Türetken (UK & Turkey) / Núria Güell (Spain) / Maja Hammarén (Sweden) / Katarzyna Krakowiak (Poland) / Jill Magid (USA) / Mapa Teatro (Columbia) / Marion von Osten (Germany) / Markus Öhrn (Sweden) / Sunshine Socialist Cinema (Sweden) / with special contribution by crime fiction writer Åke Edwardson (Sweden)

Joanna Warsza’s exhibition Art and Crime – Legally on the Edge: A Forensic Exhibition in the Backwaters of Göteborg focused on contemporary artists’ interest in crime at large, in its performative and narrative aspects, as well as its legal and political status. It explored the roles of artists as detectives, researchers, storytellers, but also as social advocates and activists, investigating the sphere of the illegal, the grey zones and the loopholes of the law, and the resulting potential political or activist uses. The exhibition was set in downtown Göteborg, leading from the Lilla Bommen pier to the city backwaters along the so-called “Quay of Broken Dreams.”

Play! Recapturing the Radical Imagination was accompanied by a book publication published by Art & Theory Publishing with articles by Franco Berardi, Lars Bang Larsen and the biennial curators, as well as a short guide to the exhibition. Between the 2nd and 4th of September a program featuring artist’s talks and panel discussions was presented in collaboration with Valand Academy – University of Gothenburg. A number of performances took place during the preview and opening days of GIBCA 2013. 

Röda Sten Konsthall is the organizer of Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art.

For further information click here.

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