Ghost ship

11th edition of Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art

The eleventh edition of Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art, titled The Ghost Ship and the Sea Change, coincides with the city of Gothenburg celebrating its 400-year anniversary. As a follow, the biennial extends its exhibition period and opens in two parts. A first chapter opens at Röda Sten Konsthall on June 5th 2021, the weekend the city formally celebrates its founding. A second part opens on September 4th, in collaboration with Göteborgs Konsthall and a other partners in the city. All exhibition venues will be open for visit to November 21st.

The Ghost Ship and the Sea Change is curated by Lisa Rosendahl and is thematically connected to the previous biennial edition, in 2019, Part of the Labyrinth.

“The biennial has its starting point in Gothenburg’s history. Looking simultaneously backwards and forwards, the coming biennial edition, The Ghost Ship & The Sea Change, aims to look into how different narratives about the city´s past might impact its future. The project will focus on artists’ various ways of working with historiography, as well as artistic methodologies for transformation.

Franska tomten, a plot of land in Gothenburg harbour symbolically and historically connected to the Swedish colonial rule of the Caribbean island Saint Barthélemy (1784–1878) will be used as the overall narrative “plot” of the biennial.

Through a critical reading of the site’s colonial history, mirrored in the buildings here and their former and current functions — the former headquarters of a transatlantic shipping company, a court of appeal, a casino, a museum of migration, the port and the sea — the past closely tied to the present and the city of Gothenburg to other parts of the world.

International and Swedish artists are invited to the biennial to present works that, from different perspectives, deal with the global flow of goods, ideologies, creation of capital and the people that have shaped the last 400 years, not infrequently with devastating consequences in the form of social and economic injustices, structural racism and environmental degradation. The emphasis is on contemporary perspectives and how today's society relates to the past - should events that are still going on, albeit in new forms, really be called history?

Starting 2019 the biennial has brought forward also the question on whether Sweden’s involvement in colonial abuses should be the subject of a public monument at Franska tomten. During 2020 and 2021, a number of public conversations and artistic interventions will be carried out in connection to this question, also in collaboration with Public Arts Agency Sweden.

Looking at the sea as both living biotope and infrastructure, source of myth and place of memorial — the biennial honors the ghosts of the past that are rarely mentioned in official historiographies. At the same time, the project highlights in many ways the multifaceted change work that is going on today, among artists as well as in other parts of society, to create a more sustainable future. ” (Lisa Rosendahl, curator) 



Image: Detail of Wilhelm Henning’s sculptural work on a facade at Franska tomten, Packhusplatsen, Gothenburg. Photo Malin Griffiths