Interview with visual artist Mattias Åkeson
Published June 2019
Could you tell us a bit about your most recent project?
I did a show together with artist Jonas Nobel during fall 2018. We called it KLICKER DOLITTLE entitled from one major work by each of us. My part of the title, KLICKER, deals with the relation between confirmation, control and desires. It all started with an article I read about how TAG-teaching (using a clicker to train animals) was developed as a pedagogical method in school to be used on pupils. For me, the clicker became an interesting metaphor for our society today. All interpersonal relations, both professional and private, colored by New Public Management. Everyday
life as a decade of Events instead of Content. The project is also inspired by my experiences from the university world and municipal institutions where I have been teaching or been a project manager in parallel. A kind of work - life aesthetics inspired by meeting rooms, workplace meetings, ventilated offices, directives and goal fulfillment. KLICKER as a project consists of several works. Crucial is the sculpture Klick and the film Klicker.
You have an extensive art practice and are known both for shows and site specific projects. Could you say something about the way you initiate your work on a site-specific project?
Working with a specific site is often related to a commission. Sometimes there are specific requests from the client. So you start by asking questions and look at sitemaps/drawings of the building, if there is a building included. The last year I myself has become the client, working as a curator for public commissions in the city of Norrköping, Sweden. I´ve learned a lot from being on both sides of the table (not in the same project though, that would be a bit of a nepotism situation).
Do you have a preferred media or technique?
I would say I prefer to blend different medias in my projects. Using the space as a space for a narrative and put in whatever is needed to tell the story. But I have become more and more interested in developing my skills in sculpture.
Do you think it is important for an artist to have a critical function in society?
It is not important for an artist, but it is important for me. I don´t want to put that demand on artists in general. The important thing is the diversity of expressions.
If you think back, could you say something about your route to becoming an artist?
When I was a teenager, I thought of becoming a scenographer, because it´s a proper job. But starting at prepschools I was dragged into the idea of becoming an artist. I hardly knew there were things as an art academy when I started. But there was a very important person when I was 13-15 years old, our teacher in drawing at school. He told us about surrealism and Dada and much more. It lightened a spark.
Would you tell us a little about the artists that has given you the most inspiration over the years?
I started as a painter and several of my teachers at the prepschools who also were artists became very important at the time, for instance Birgitta Burling and Elisabeth Oscarsson. I also admired some young artists who came in to the academies a bit earlier than me and developed very interesting things. Marcus Eek is one and Ola Pehrson another. Later on I fell in love with Joseph Beuys, Eva Hesse, Gordon Matta-Clark and Susan Hiller to name a few.
Mattias Åkeson (1970) studied at the Art Academy in Bergen, Norway and graduated in 2001. Today he divides his time between artistic practice, teaching and commissions as an exhibition designer. His field of interest could be explained as dealing with Scandinavian welfare, middleclass consumption identity, and the relation between community as a collective and the individual. He has been doing projects looking at the shopping mall, the art gallery and the kindergarten.
All photos are from the exhibition KLICKER DOLITTLE at Passagen Linköpings konsthall.
Photo documentation published with permission of the artist. ©️ Mattias Åkeson.