In the early 80-ties I got in contact with artist run gallery Zon in Stockholm. Zon was started up by graphic artist Jan Alhpa, artist Erla Thorarinsdottir Iceland, Kim Klein and artist Knut Swane from Norway and a couple of more artists………
Together with Kim Klein and Kjell Furberg, in the early 80-ties, I started up the alternative art space Bar Bar in the middle of Stockholm. Bar Bar had the ambition to open up for new art forms as installation, music, performance but also to show painting in a way that more corresponded to our intentions. I was involved in Bar Bar for one and a half year.
1984 I got an artist in residence scholarship to PS1 in NY USA and had to leave Bar Bar behind.
In my early works I was interested in the monstrous and the morbid. Different alter egos like The Super Gal`, The Princess of Panic, The Kentucky Fried Chicken Heroine and The Comrade Alien and my latest project Alice& The Aliens, offers me the possibility to bring in the monstrous and the melancholic female on the scene in burlesque situations. In striking cartoonlike works I can criticize the ruling social order and gender perspectives.
A Male wiever of slasher films, like a male reader of the nineteenth century gothic may find himself on the receiving end of countless acts of degradation in relation to monstrosity and its powers, while the female reader and spectator may be able to access a surprising source of power through monstrous forms and monstrous genres. Quotation by Judith Halbersteins text Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and technology of Monsters från 1995.
Sander Gilman cultural historian, claims that every society creates its own monsters that needs to be rejected. Different categories are selected on which the society projects its own fears.
The grotesque and the cannibalistic themes in my art can be seen in works as Good Girl Creep Queen from the mid-eighties. Camille Paglia American author has as her main inspiration De Sade, Nietzche and Freud and she means that the world is a cruel place, human being is an animal, sex and power are inseparable. Camille Paglia is not sharing many feminist thoughts about an early society ruled by women, where the good goddesses were worshipped. Camille Paglia claims that female goddesses found, has both bright and dark sides, giving life and taking life as well. An example is the Indian goddess Kali, a brutal goddess, her cult has been full of offers, cannibalism and castration, this because nature is brutal and not very moral.
Illusions around the body your can be almost psychotic, to miss a head, having extremely long limps, being blown up or crushed. The fear of being torn apart or crushed is a modern idea of a inner personae on the border of bursting. The fear of a run off-vacky inner self that actually cripples the body is a theme in my works that I constantly keep coming back to.
In my works from the period 1980-2000, I showed flat cut out silhouette sculptures made by wood that was painted in a cartoonish style. These sculptures Creep-Queen theme, was used in spatial installations. I had mostly worked with acrylic based colures but where interested in using oil and tempera, mostly because I found them more vivid and beautiful.
One of the earlier dystopias in the literature is Gullivers Travels by Jonathan Swift from 1726.
The Street Series is a still ongoing series of paintings,showing dystrophic cityscapes that underwent destruction of different kinds or vegetation taking over. Using a dystopia as a way to describe the status is a powerful way to criticize the society. By exaggerate negative phenomena and bring in fearful visions of horror on for example the way we live and the consequences it might end up with, makes you have people reacting on things taken for granted and do not find dangerous at first. One could say that dystopias has been around as long as utopias, because what can be one persons utopia can be the others dystopia. Platons Staten-Politeia(greec) is known as the first written utopia.
The Street Series 1977-2016 is an ongoing painting project, containing small and large scale painting mostly tempera on board. Dystrophic abandoned cityscapes that underwent different kinds of violence or sometimes overtaken by vegetation.
A loss of the civilized society, only chaos and destruction. The idea is that out of chaos a new order will rise. A romantic idea that has been criticized by for example author Naomi Klein.
The Alien-figure pops up in my works as early as the mid 70-ties. In my recent works from the 2000, the Alien-figure has taken a more central place. The Alien-figure represents in my works- The Other, and gives a lot of possibilities to identification and personal projections of different kinds.
In the installation Pink Alien 2004 at Mia Sundberg Gallery, the installation consisted of ca 13 white glazed ceramic sculptures on shelves. The walls where painted in a high pink color and they had sceneries painted in white on the pink. The set associated to older noblemen country-seats. You can find them in smaller palaces like Drottningholm Stockholm Sweden, from the era of the 1700 century. In the middle of the room a table showing an idyllic landscape with a small town and a half meter ceramic Alien Figure. In the rear end of the gallery a Painting was placed. The Alien figure is too big for the landscape and she/he has the features like from some twisted futuristic film. The alien groups placed on the shelves are all of them busy with different activities, like building/tearing down different buildings. The idea is that the viewer should not be sure whether the Aliens construct or destruct. The figurines are referring to the heritage of the Chinese porcelain, and the East Indian companies travelling overseas trading. The figurine looks cute and threatening at the same time, a monster or a helper. A monster in that sense, we humans tend to project our self to the other. It can be a total mistake when it comes to the Alien, a human made up being we can project almost anything on. A sense of catastrophe and violence under a cute cover of glaze and pink, the figurines sitting and introvert fumbling with the houses when they don’t reproduce themselves. At one of the walls a big map is finely drawn with the title The Past, the Present and the Future, a map over the uncanny cityscape these figures lives in, a rather gloomy vision of a society that’s lost its orientation.
About the installation Alien Works from 2006-2016. The Alien figure/sculpture is ca 70 cm high in this installation and has more the features of the nurse or a traditional female helper when things have gone wrong. The aliens are travelling on trays with wheels on and they are wearing long dresses in red/white square patterns and white collars. Their eyes are made out of the kind of glass balls kids use to play with, that makes their eyes glitter and give them a cold snakelike glance. The ideas about their looks is to give the impression of a collective, Intelligent and non sexual figure that is inventing a new and better world. From their heads kind of clumsy crocheted strings in different colures are spinning, all over the room over the walls and up in the ceiling, and takes different forms as flowers, seas, the sun and snowflakes. The Alien are more superior and highly intelligent specie. The aliens are making up a new world simply by the mental power by thought a reference to Aldus Huxley`s A brave new World. The aliens in this installation gives you the impression that they are the helpers bringing back and building up what we humans have destroyed and correspond in this way to my earlier work The Princess of Panic, the Street series and Modern Woman. A painting in 3 parts with the title White Flag shows the heroine Princess of Panic waving with a white flag in the middle flanked by 2 paintings with a wild psychedelic design and the text Love almost unreadable. The painting is a reference to an earlier painting, on the same heroine in the same landscape, the same size they are almost exact identical when it comes to the composition, but yet 30 years has passed. The new painting is a comment on the earlier made 30 years ago. A series of fine drawn cityscapes titles as Cityscape1-4 and a kinetic sculpture title Guardian Angel, representing an alien moving around a miniature society with a church, a house, a schoolhouse and a railway without a train, is placed in front of the framed Cityscape drawings. You can also read the installation with the crocheting aliens as a celebration to the creative power.
As an artist I have been working with different practices as freelancer making costumes for film, illustrating texts and my own artistic works.
Using different methods like painting, drawing, textile sculpture and ceramics often in spatial installations, has been the way of working I appreciate the most, finding it challenging and interesting. I like and find it fun and necessary to be able to use what method and material I find the best for work. Working with painting, drawing, sculpture, light and installation in my works, gives me endless opportunities to express what I want.
The way I works as an artist has changed during the years. In my younger days I wanted to de- construct the painting, because I found it to excluding and male oriented. I wanted to bring in the girlish, the dirty, the aggressive, the monstrous, humor in a feministic perspective into art and especially painting.
Kristina Abelli Elander