Mint presents A Careful Strike*; a group show that departs from the monumental painting The History of the Workers Movement by the sheet metal worker, musician and artist Ruben Nilson (1893–1971), permanently installed at ABF Stockholm. Painted during a ten year period around 1940. Following a tradition of workers’ art, the collective struggle for emancipation is at the centre of Nilson’s painting. 

Participants: Bini Adamczak, Agentur, Diana Agunbiade-Kolawole, Black Audio Film Collective (John Akomfrah), Henrik Andersson, Problem Collective, Chto Delat?, Harun Farocki, Andria Nyberg Forshage, Dora García, Benj Gerdes, Stefano Harney, Salad Hilowle, Sam Hultin, Ingela Johansson, Hanni Kamaly, Judith Kiros, Patrick Kretschek, Julia Lindblom, Mattin, Minus Miele, Alessandra Mincone, Fred Moten, Papis Ndiaye, Ruben Nilson, Behzad Khosravi Noori, Gudrun Olsson, Yolanda Aurora Bohm Ramirez, Oliver Ressler, Jenny Richards, Bella Rune, Katarina Pirak Sikku, Karl Sjölund, Iris Smeds, Hito Steyerl, Margareta Ståhl, Hannah Wiker Wikström, Mathias Wåg.

The exhibition follows Nilson’s artwork both in its ambition and challenge: What does the reproduction of a movement’s history entail? What different roles can art play in social movements and through which expressions? How is art engaged in today’s movements? A dialogue with the specific struggles and the histories that inform Nilson’s composition of intertwined visual narratives, structured through visible conjoined cuts form the curatorial framework of the exhibition. The works historical connections to contemporary situations are put in relation to what is missing within the frame – the histories and experience that are left out while establishing a prevalent worker’s history.

A Careful Strike* is an exhibition and a public program that precedes the exhibition during the fall, where workers’ art is confronted with Swedish and international contemporary works. The form and history of social movements are reflected through situated experiences of migration, care, exploitation and struggle. Through songs, poetry, talks, and artworks historical events and issues are made visible in a conversation on our current condition. What do we need to remember and what is to be done to win back the future?

*The exhibition borrows its title from the militant feminist collective Precarias a la deriva (Precarious women adrift) 2004. The collective was formed in Madrid in 2002 in reaction to the male-dominated unions that were organising a general strike in reaction to labour law reforms in Spain. Precarias a la deriva wanted to highlight the challenges many face in participating in strikes, due to a reality of precarious employment and a higher burden of reproductive work. They wanted to create a collective situated narrative on the general tendency toward the precarization of life they were experiencing and the ways to revolt and resist in our everyday lives. – Precarias a la deriva, Una huelga de mucho cuidado (Cuatro hipótesis), 2004.

Dear Eva-Lisa by Sam Hultin from 2020

The video Dear Eva-Lisa (2020) presents letters written to the transpioneer Eva-Lisa Bengtson (1932-2018) in the middle of the 1960s. Together these letters tell the history of Sweden’s first club for transpersons – Transvestia. The letters and photographs in the video were found from the archive Eva-Lisa made during her life as an activist and that Sam Hultin has managed since her passing in 2018.

Chto Delat, Builders, 2005

It is important to note that the workers on the painting are not shown in the process of working, but that they are taking a well-deserved cigarette break. They have interrupted their work and now have the chance to consider both the relations that govern it, but also the significance it will have to the transformation of society at large. This is exactly how the painting was read in its time, as an interpretation we would like to return to today.

Our project’s goal is to apply this ideal image to contemporaneity. We invite the spectator to return to the composition of this painting and to suggest a new version of the process of its creation. We want to show (through a slide show and sound track) what might have preceded this moment, in which they took on a pose that turned them into a symbol of certainty, strength and belief. What was it? Hard work? A conflict in production that found its own solution? Or maybe even a hidden love story? Maybe it was all of these things at once, and maybe none of it happened. Our goal lies in constructing a situation in which people today (ourselves and our colleagues from Chto delat) become “ideal,” stretching to reach this image.

The collective Chto Delat (What is to be done?) was founded in early 2003 in Petersburg by a workgroup of artists, critics, philosophers, and writers from St. Petersburg, Moscow, and Nizhny Novgorod with the goal of merging political theory, art, and activism.

The group was constituted in May 2003 in St. Petersburg in an action called “The Refoundation of Petersburg.” The name of the group derives from a novel by the Russian 19th century writer Nikolai Chernyshevsky, and immediately brings to mind the first socialist worker’s self-organizations in Russia, which Lenin actualized in his own publication, “What is to be done?” (1902). Chto Delat sees itself as an artistic cell and also as a community organizer for a variety of cultural activities intent on politicizing “knowledge production”. The activity of collective takes responsibility for a postsocialist condition and actualization of forgotten and repressed potentiality of Soviet past and often works as a politics of commemoration.

From its inception, the collective has been publishing an English-Russian newspaper focused on the urgent issues of Russian cultural politics, in dialogue with the international context.

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Within the framework of the research project, The Aesthetics of the Popular Fronts the independent research group Agentur presents a joint reflection on a central event in the cultural history of antifascism: The mass demonstration on February 12, 1934, when tens of thousands of people, took to the streets in Paris, to protest against the advances of fascism. With readings, presentations, artistic contributions, and critical commentaries by Emily Fahlén, Jörgen Gassilewski, Martin Högström, Ingela Johansson, Emma Kihl, Samuel Richter, Kim West, and Ellen Wettmark.

A public conversation on the possibility of struggle and resistance within health and care work. The corona pandemic has made the vulnerability of society even more evident as a consequence of decades of neoliberal reforms. How can care rather than economic principles become the primary organizing principle for societies? In collaboration with Feministiskt Forum. Participants: Roya Hakimnia, Pamela Otarola, Yolanda Aurora Bohm Ramirez and Mani Shutzberg.

An online discussion with members from Problem Collective and other guests departing from the current political situation in Belarus and the condition for artistic production, solidarity and strike in the heat of the moment.

The struggle over history is the struggle for life, recognition and reparation. The conditions for an independent historical narrative are a recurring issue within the history of different movements. Which narratives are given a voice, which are suppressed? How is the ongoing struggle over history expressed today in different contexts? Participants: Judith Kiros, Stefano Harney och Fred Moten.

During the past years, the Naples port has been affected by harsh labour conflicts. Employees have been fired on unclear grounds and the port businesses are unwilling to negotiate with the union. In Genova, dockworkers have gone on strikes to block ships with weapons cargo destined for Jemen. When the Black Lives Matter movement grew in the USA hundreds of dockworkers went on strike in Portland. In Sweden, the Swedish Dockworkers Unions struggle has become significant in the rapid restructuring of the power relations on the Swedish labour market. What does the conjunction between political strikes and labour related strikes entail today? This eventing departs from a series of reports from different contemporary struggles that reflect conditions to document and establish one’s public narrative. Given this aspect, which historical continuities with earlier movements can we see in today’s struggles?

Reports by:

– Papis Ndiaye S.I. Cobas
– Martin Berg, chairman of the Swedish Dockworkers Union
– Alessandra Mincone, journalist at Napoli Monitor 
– Mario Silvestri, dockworker Turi Transport Napoli, S.I. Cobas
– Mathias Wåg, activist and writerModerated by Julia Lindblom, journalist at Arbetaren and Benj Gerdes, artist and filmmaker.

Artists Emma Dominguez, Macarena Dusant, Sonia Sagan and Sarasvati Shrestha reflect on their current exhibition Mami: Ama: Mödrar at Botkryka Konsthall.

Banners and a walk to ABF from Konstfack with Bella Rune, Konstfack students and Margaretha Ståhl.

Minerva the Miscarriage of the Brain collects a decade of work from artist, musician, and author of On Hell, Johanna Hedva. In plays, performances, an encyclopaedia, essays, autohagiography, hypnagogic, and hypnopompic poems—in texts whose bodies drift and delight in form—Minerva tunnels into mysticism, madness, motherhood, and magic. Minerva gets dirty with the mess of gender and genius. She does the labour of sleep and dreams. She odysseys through Los Angeles, shapeshifting in stygian night and waking up to wail in the light.

Johanna Hedva is a Korean-American writer, artist, musician, and astrologer, who was raised in Los Angeles by a family of witches, and now lives in LA and Berlin. Hedva’s practice cooks magic, necromancy, and divination together with mystical states of fury and ecstasy. There is always the body — its radical permeability, dependency, and consociation — but the task is how to eclipse it, how to nebulise it, and how to cope when this inevitably fails. Ultimately, Hedva’s work, no matter the genre, is different kinds of writing, whether it’s words on a page, screaming in a room, or dragging a hand through water.

Johanna Hedva’s Minerva: The Miscarriage of the Brain is published by Sming Sming Books and Wolfman Books.

Release conversation of Editorial meeting – A Gathering Towards a Critique of the Contemporary by Paletten Art Journal with Jakob Jakobsen and Ana Teixeira Pinto moderated by Frida Sandström.

Curator: Michele Masucci
Production assistant: Alice Söderqvist
Interns: Maya Nagano Holm, Emelie Conrad
Design: Thomas Bush
Lighting Design: Jonatan Winbo

Mint and ABF Stockholm follow Swedens Public Health Agency recommendations against the spread of infection. Parts of the program will be documented and made available on Mints and ABFs webpage. The exhibition opens on 3 December 2020 until 21 February 2021.

The exhibition is produced with generous support from the Workers Movement’s Culture Fund, The Swedish Arts Council, Region Stockholm and The City of Stockholm. Thanks to the Workers Educational Association in Stockholm and Bonniers konsthall.