When the pandemic reached Sweden in early March, the exhibitions met the same fate as in principle all other activities that involve people gathering: They were either cancelled, postponed or recast in a web-based format. This year’s exhibitions were slated to open at the end of May in two places: at Färgfabriken for the Bachelors, and here at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts for the Masters. But that never happened.
Instead they are now both opening towards the end of August at Konstakademien, the Royal Academy of Fine Art. A lot has changed, but what is practically certain is that the exhibitions will observe the social choreography we have grown accustomed to in months past: a social distancing of two meters and a ban on public gatherings of more than 50 people.
“Accessibility may be restricted, but the mere fact that they will be held must be counted a success for everyone involved. A special thanks goes to the students and team members behind the exhibitions who have adroitly managed to adapt to the new circumstances, as well as to the Royal Academy of Fine Arts who honored our close collaboration by creating time in their program schedule”, writes Fredrik Ehlin, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the Royal Institute of Art, in his introduction to catalogue accompanying the exhibitions.
“One should not underestimate the significance of our being able to carry out the examination exhibitions. Our program in the Fine Arts in fact offers other opportunities for exhibiting; but it is through these examination exhibitions that the work of our students is palpably presented to an art public, which provides them the opportunity to formulate a stance on society at large, and perhaps influence it.
Framed by the current regulations, this conversation will look different. But it will, through the premises of the exhibition of art, regardlessly strive to maintain its ties to the art world, which, despite its current survival in digital and open-air formats, has been severely disrupted by the pandemic.
“Once in exhibition, the students’ artistic processes prove to have an outstanding sustainability”, continues Fredrik Ehlin. “What we encounter, rather than mere reactions to a crisis, is the palette of artist development by those who have gone their own ways and who here collaborate simply on the basis of sharing an educational program, a time, an environment and now a hall. For a graduating class at the Royal Institute of Art, this is quite normal: a heterogeneous, paradoxical and diverse composite of artistry.”