Unfinished Histories 

Filippa Arrias, Matti Aikio, Seher Uysal and Ulla West  

Curated by Abir Boukhari and Anneli Bäckman 

12 March – 27 August 2022 

Botkyrka konsthall 

Opening: Saturday, 12 March at 13-15  

This spring we look forward to opening the exhibition Unfinished Histories that delves into history negotiated through memories, interpretations and hearsay. It speaks of a complex relation to history as a narrative that is never fixed nor complete but still affects us and the world we live in. We reach into these ambiguous landscapes of histories, shaped by a diversity of perspectives and ask ourselves what has been displaced or forgotten. And can we use our findings to reimagine a future? It seems like we cannot live without history.

The exhibition presents works by four artists who explore different aspects of history writings, archives and storytelling.

In Filippa Arrias’s series of paintings and drawings, the artist traces a family history that takes its point of departure in Surinam, a country deeply embedded in a colonial history that has brought about the most ethnically diverse population in the region. Through found archival material, online sources and her own imaginations about her relatives’ lives and destinies, the artist explores how identity is shaped by our histories.

Matti Aikio’s archive is an ongoing process in which the artist raises a Sami perspective in the struggle between an indigenous relationship with nature and the nation state’s definition of nature as something that should either be preserved or exploited for economic gain. A history that today sees its conflict in predator politics and exploitation of natural resources. The multimedia installation is a layering of thoughts and reflections where oral histories and knowledge together form a conversation on indigenous self-determination.

How can our understanding of a place be informed by misunderstandings, rumours and urban myths? Seher Uysal’s video work retells the story of a legendary cold winter in 1954 that allegedly caused the Bosporus in Istanbul to freeze over, allowing people to walk across the strait. The artist investigates how hearsay and rumours that were circulating at the time, still have an impact on memory and the understanding of a place today.

Memory and text are interwoven in the work of Ulla West. The act of writing brings histories into being, but the readability is challenged by the many layers of perspectives and positions. A family secret is hidden among rumours that form alternative histories. What is true and what is false? The artist’s work is a process of filling in the gaps between the told and the untold.

In connection with the exhibition, we are also journeying through the Residence Botkyrka archive, which encompasses more than ten years of memories, weaving an ongoing history of research and projects that have sprung out of the apartment on Krögarvägen 26 into the public space and beyond. A selection of archival material, artists’ books and research publications will be presented in The Archive at Botkyrka konsthall, framed by interiors from Residence Botkyrka’s apartment, which was designed by Birger Lipinski & Laercio Redondo in 2011.

This spring will also see the launch of Residence Botkyrka’s Online Archive, a digital listing of previous artists in residence and a platform for ongoing processes that brings the programme into the future. The Fittja Kitchen Cookbook is another living archive that has emerged out of a participatory field where artists’ practices dealing with food and cultivation engage with a locality. The first edition of the cookbook gathers recipes and stories, new and old collaborations that will host a series of programmes during the spring and summer.

Graphic design: Johnny Chang