Sonja Nilsson’s show is Open Wednesday to Sunday, until December 1st, 2013 at Färgfabriken, in Stockholm, Sweden.
The ambitious bold third feature film Laurence Anyways by Xavier Dolan, 2012, opens with a statement from its main character Laurence Alia stating that Alia is“ looking for a person who understands my language and speaks it. A person who, without being a pariah, will question not only the rights and the value of the marginalized, but also those of the people who claim to be normal.”
The above mentioned film depicts the transformation of a man into a woman and the consequences that ensue over the course of a 10 year love affair that is doomed as a result of the main character’s (Laurence Alia) decision to evolve into the identity of a woman. The rejection and the refusal to accept gender differences outside popular notions of male and female identity as well marginalizing and victimizing those that refuse to be classified by prevailing norms are the running themes between the film “Laurence Anyways” and Sonja Nilsson’s otherwise untitled and recent exhibition at Färgfabriken.
Throughout the exhibition at Färgfabriken audience members are guided into an untitled story that unveils itself through five dramatic sets constructed within diorama like installations containing anthropomorphic holograms revealing a sinister turning point when expectation turns to prejudice. As the narrative unfolds the viewer witnesses disturbing acts of misogyny demonstrated by extreme violence onto the transgendered characters who become outcasts and rejected within the heterosexual male context – an arena that is consumed at large within the space of popular culture. Nilsson addresses the representations of how gender identification and transphobia is rather linked to not only homophobia but also misogyny.
The commodification of gender alongside the stereotypes that proliferate the commercial industry become a problematic paradigm to those who do not conform to traditional gender-norms. These fictional perceptions appear as the protagonists in Nilsson’s story meet a tragic end, yet offers an uncanny glimpse into the humiliation and degradation of those who defy definitions of “normal”.
Her characters, similarly to the character in Laurence Anyways refuse to assimilate into the conventional styles of male and female behavior, the expense of such independence is often met with denial and exclusion from society that both willingly and unwillingly perpetuates dominant ideologies about gender models extracted from spectacles of capitalism. Both works challenge the fiction of reality through exemplary stories that illustrate the resilience and struggle for those seeking acceptance beyond the restrictions of society fixated on brands, labels and categories fit for consumption. At the closure of the exhibition, one may ask how relevant is it to celebrate the standards of normalcy which discriminate and confine anyone deviating from the assumptions of the status quo?
Sonja Nilsson was born in 1977. She studied art in Hässleholm and Kristianstad Art School. In 2001 she undertook her Master of Fine Art at the Valand Academy, University of Gothenburg. Sonja Nilsson is now based in Berlin and during the summers in Ljusdal (Sweden).The characteristics of Sonja Nilsson’s work are the construction of staged surroundings where highly illusive tools are used to tell a story. There is an appealing immediacy in her art, and the beholder is often the one who ends up in the center.
Christa Joo Hyun D’Angelo is an American artist based in Berlin. Through a queer feminist approach D’Angelo highlights the mechanisms of seduction used in worldwide advertising appeal. She recently conducted the workshop “Community Gender Bending” at Novia University in conjunction with KulturÖsterboten in Finland. D’Angelo is currently in production for her first video work with queer feminist pornographer Marit Östberg.