Jan Svenungsson

"Psycho-Mapping the Current Crisis", Moderna Museet, Stockholm 2009.

During the forced renovation of the museum building at Skeppsholmen, the whole of Moderna Museet moved to a temporary location in a huge loft-like space right in the centre of Stockholm. For this space a special exhibition series was conceived: "Udda Veckor" (Odd Weeks). Every second Monday a new one person show would open, for a period of about one year (starting August 2002). The exhibition space was a large, free-standing White Cube-like construction – and the installation period allowed exactly 24 hours! (one exhibition ends Sunday night at 18.00 – the next opens Monday night at 18.00).

For his exhibition in this space JS decided (in early fall 2002) to make a highly time specific project:
– a project about the unfolding IRAQ crisis: "Psycho-Mapping the Current Crisis".

Exhibition: February 10 – 23, 2003.
The overall idea of this project was to reflect the complex reality of the current (pre-war!) situation by using a huge number of parts – relating to geopolitical reality, the role of media and the possibility of art – and to create an entangled web of connections. In this web all systems ultimately depend on random factors. And all chance occurences are squeezed into systematic frames.

The components of the exhibition were as follows:

1. A series of 20 new "Psycho-Mapping" paintings, which depict the changing map of the Middle East. The distribution of colours to different countries in the series is made with a random method, with a frequency distribution based on a risk analysis for the countries included in the map (see document here). This analysis determines the likelihood for a country receiving a colour. When a country is to receive a colour it is more likely than not to keep its colour from a previous painting. (For earlier "Psycho-Mappings" go here)

2. A Wall Painting (first installation view here). The first seven colour fields of the wall painting is a proportionate translation into geometric fields of the geo-political reality as reflected in the first of the Psycho-Mapping paintings (the pre-war state). The wall painting then unfolds in a linear progression according to its own random based system. And it determines the color code for each of the quotes from the New York Times opinion page!

3. The Information Wall, which included:

– A series of quotes from the editorial and opinion page of the New York Times, starting September 12, 2001 and reflecting the changing analysis of the political realities in the 16 months leading up to the exhibition. Series of quotes start here. Index with links. It is also possible to click directly on the Wall Painting in the installation images.

A diary by the artist: in parallell to the series of NYT quotes there is a diary by the artist, reflecting work and activities during the same period. Each diary page has an English translation at the bottom of the page – scroll down!

A series of quotes from a work of literature, which is not identified (first quote here).

A large number of work notes and material regarding the development of the exhibition, its basic ideas and false starts; as well as the construction of the paintings (starting here).

A second series of NYT quotes + maps reflecting the crisis over North Korea which became acute while work on the Psycho–Mapping paintings were already under way... (starts here)

4. "News Hour. Berlin, January 27, 2003" – a video not available online. It consists of a one hour run through central Berlin, carried out exactly between 13.00 and 14.00 on January 27, 2003, while listening to BBC News Hour. The program on this day was dominated by speculation on looming war, and on on what UN chief of Iraq weapons inspectators Hans Blix would present to the UN Security Council a few hours later that same day. The soundtrack to the video is the BBC radio program, exactly syncronised as it was heard through headphones by the runner. In 2005 a drawing was made documenting the route taken in this video.