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Fredrik Åkum Is Longing for Something Else

And he's nostalgic at the same time.

Fredrik Åkum is a Swedish artist based in Gothenburg. Born in 1987 in Kristinehamn, Åkum is one of the most active artists I've ever talked to. If you go to his website you can count up to 24 fanzines and 32 exhibitions that he's been a part of – at the modest age of 27.

Åkum's exhibition Lupine Wreath at Gallery Steinsland Berliner in Stockholm opens tonight. Like most of his work, the exhibition is focused on loss and longing. He is experimenting with the theme of nostalgia, and this time it is about longing for places you haven't visited yet, as well as a look back at something that was never real.


I chatted with him ahead of the opening.

VICE: The nostalgic theme. Is this something you're aiming for or does it just happen?
Fredrik Åkum: It's just happened lately. Sometimes you get this feeling and you're trying to milk it all the way – to the point when you feel that there aren't any questions left to ask about it. It's always exciting to milk it, because that's when you realise what comes next. This time it's a lot about longing but in a different way. For example if you take a potted flower. That is longing for something. Or the palm trees in your living room. What do you mean by that? There's something interesting about palm trees in living rooms.

I like the concept of asking someone with a palm tree in their living room what in the hell they mean by that.
Yeah, I agree. Of course there are practicalities as well. It's probably not that nice to have a pine tree.

It's been two years since your first solo exhibition in Stockholm. What have you been doing since then?

I've graduated from Valand in Gothenburg and kept working with exhibitions. I have worked on a side project as well called Jarko. It's about fanzines and art in fanzines.

I was meaning to ask. You've worked with a lot of different art forms, like paintings, fanzines and photography. Do you do whatever you feel like in any given time or do you plan ahead?

Good question. Lately, except for those, I've been working a lot with physical objects. Whatever you take upon yourself will eventually find a limit. If you for example, take a photograph that you would want to paint, it's often better in the shape of a photo – sometimes it's just impossible to translate things into different art forms. So you work with the photo instead, and all of a sudden you're working with photography. You just have to look for what is honest and go with that. When I work with fanzines, it kind of feels like working with a portable exhibition, which is nice.


You've had your paintings printed on clothing, too.
Yeah, before Valand. I did collaborated with a designer called Linda Larsson, which wasn't that long ago. I worked with different images while she worked with them as physical objects. She did a clothing line with them, which was very exciting. It made me want to continue with images not strapped to frames.

Is it important to have a presence on the Internet as an artist of today?
I don't think it's important, but I think it's interesting. You can often get very uncensored criticism. I guess it's one of the pros with people being anonymous online. It's also interesting to see what kind of feeds your own stuff gets put in. The internet is a great tool to contextualise yourself with. You see yourself in another person's context, like when they reblog your stuff on Tumblr. It's a great way to get an idea of what you're doing. Or what you shouldn't be doing.

I've never thought about that. When you upload something and someone else reblog or retweet it, you're really just a participant in another persons narrative.
I guess so. And that's very contemporary. It's a conventional way to express yourself today. To upload other people's stuff to show the world who you are. It's super interesting and super odd.

In 2013, you had this exhibition in Scotland called Ode to the loss. Are you aiming for an international career?
Absolutely. It was amazing to exhibit over there. It's a constant goal to reach further. And even though you can reach pretty far with the Internet and fanzines I think the paintings as physical objects obtains a certain quality. To experience art for real is important.


Fredrik Åkum's solo exhibition Lupine Wreath opens tonight, September 19, and runs to October 17, at Gallery Steinsland Berliner, Bondegatan 70 in Stockholm, Sweden.

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