- by Barbara Polla
Joakim Forsgren is an artist with multiple and diverse creative abilities. He works with installation light, sound, photography, poetry and more. His exhibition at Stockholm’s Konstnärshuset in June of 2021, organized by Vision Forum within the framework of the project “An Infinite Love” shows three photographs facing three pedestals.
The first photograph is of a golden door – as the golden door that allows entry into the space – a picture taken in Helsinki. The second photograph shows a “pissoir” somewhere in Antwerp, a mixture of golden and dark grey, and the third one – or may be it is the first one –, a black plastic curtain closing an empty garage in Tokyo that allows only for some light to come through if the viewer goes close enough. An opening towards light. What is there, behind the Golden Door? Where does the light come from?
On the other side of the room, copies of parts of the skull of the French Philosopher René Descartes, who died in Stockholm while aiming to teach philosophy to Queen Christina of Sweden, lie in water in two transparent glass boxes. The third one, in the middle, is black, so that only imagination can see; there is a microphone above that box that maybe registers the sounds that we can hear as transmitted – or transformed? – by a loudspeaker.
After Descartes’ death, mysteriously enough, two skulls were indentified as belonging to him, may be because of the separation of body from mind that the philosopher actively promoted? The artist thus made two imprints of this venerable skull.
While “I think, therefore I am” is an assumption that is quite distinct form our view of the relevance of the body in love, in disease, in thinking, transforming what we call “dark matter” into art, whether the art of healing or drawing, painting, poetry, music… René Descartes is key to “An Infinite Love”. On the top floor of University René Descartes at Odéon in Paris, there is the Museum of History of Medicine, a most fantastic museum devoted, in great part, to the history of war surgery, and hence containing quite frightening “instruments”. I “operate”, I care, I heal: therefore I am.
The exhibition is also presenting a light piece and two books of poetry with many white pages to listen to some poignant poems. In this exhibition, what you get is more than what you see. There is invisible poetry on the white pages and music down the hall. There is beauty and mystery. There is “food for thought”. There is An Infinite Love.