Dora García’s new work Red Love is inspired by the Russian author, feminist, activist, political refugee and diplomat Alexandra Kollontai (1872–1952) who propagated for radically transformed relationships between women and men. Free love and camaraderie were at the core of her thinking, as expressed in her novels and essays. As an influential figure in the Bolshevik party and commissar for social welfare in their first government, she not only set up free childcare centres and maternity houses, but also pushed through the rights for women including divorce, abortion, and full rights for children born out of wedlock. At the time these were unique measures which were soon overhauled by Stalin, who did not appreciate this attempt at ending “the universal servitude of woman” by challenging both economic and psychological conditions.
García’s exhibition consists of a wooden cage-like structure with a door leading into a space furnished with a big table and chairs. This stage-like space is being used for various purposes during the exhibition period, including by participants of Konstfack’s CuralorLab programme for their final projects. Strong light emanates from a lamp suspended from the ceiling, casting distinct shadows on the floor which has been painted white with a red square in the middle. The square is not perfectly rectilinear, just like the angular shapes in Kazimir Malevich’s paintings. The cage and the lighting bear likeness to a scene in the film W.R.: Mysteries of the Organism.
At the other end of Tensta konsthall’s main exhibition space there is a wooden spiral staircase on which a selection of books has been placed. This atmospheric installation, rich in references, plays on the mission, almost transcendental purpose, and urgency of Kollantai’s life and work, something which is shared by many revolutionaries and artists like Kazimir Malevich. The stairs originate in a museum with a different but no less passionate mission, The Museum of Jurassic Technologies, which was founded in 1989 by a husband and wife in Los Angeles. The museum is defined as “an educational institution dedicated to the advancement of knowledge and the public appreciation of the Lower Jurassic”, a term not further explained. In this exceptional museum, which is reminiscent of a cabinet of curiosities with a collection holding artistic, ethnographic, scientific, and historical objects, some exhibits remain unclassifiable. Part of the collection are a set of maquettes of wooden staircases, one of which came to be the model for the staircase in Red Love. (Tensta Konsthall press-release)