Questions of care—as a responsibility and a right—reverberate throughout this group exhibition at Bonner Kunstverein, cocurated by the museum’s director, Fatima Hellberg, and the artist Annika Eriksson. The politics and practices of care have been central to Hellberg’s curatorial approach and what she calls “keeping something alive” that otherwise shouldn’t be. This is a vision that frames Hellberg and Eriksson’s ongoing collaboration, informed in part by their relationship as daughter and mother, respectively. Persistence and survival animate the seventeen-artist show, which unfolds in veiled and increasingly interwoven narratives across two imposing gallery spaces.
While the pieces vary in media (film, sculpture, sound, photography), they each explore care as an unstable interdependency between love and rescue. Hellberg and Erikkson’s framework for this cycle—initiated by an image-based correspondence—is the animal shelter: a space of safety and survival that exists because of a lack of these things. Rei Hayama’s On the Collinear and Reflected on the Water, 2018, is an incantatory 8-mm film that tracks compassion and pain in the tear of a captive emu, while Dani ReStack’s Platonic, 2013, captures instances of communal intimacy from the off-kilter vantage point of a handheld camera.
Eriksson’s own Mission, 2022, the most sprawling and direct piece in the exhibition, is a fenced-in maze of small enclosures that hold an array of paraphernalia and collaged images of pets, as well video and mixed-media works by other artists in the show. Hovering somewhere between shrine and clinic, Mission emphasizes the unnerving beats of the exhibition at large: Care is cacophonous, care is distinct and indecipherable, care is painful but necessary.