Artists and Projects

artist

Cecilia Germain

year

2020

about the artist

Cecilia Germain (b. 1974) is an artist based in Uppsala, Sweden. She graduated from Konstfack in 2006 and has since developed an interdisciplinary practice including a variety of media and performances.

In her work, she is concerned with Black Public Health, mourning and healing, colonial economies in relation to plants and the historical role of botanicals for Afro-diasporic identity formation in the Western hemisphere.

about the residency

Cecilia Germain was invited to a research and production residency in 2020-2021, for the exhibition project The Dream Keeper, a collaboration with curator and art historian Temi Odumosu.

Cecilia’s research included a community herbarium, gathering local plant knowledge that was shared within the exhibition, as an ongoing living archive, storing a variety of plants (herbs, seeds, flowers, leaves) and asking: what plant wisdom would you like to store for the future?

documentation

exhibition at Botkyrka Konsthall

The Dream Keeper
6 March – 21 August, 2021

The Dream Keeper, a future-worlding experiment led by Afro-Swedish artist Cecilia Germain, curated by art historian Temi Odumosu. The exhibition draws on a long history of Black radical thought and practice, in order to produce a multidimensional space for “borderless being”. It features a newly commissioned body of works about sleep and its many functions: as a health practice, a political stance against unfair power structures, and as a gateway to access other realms within.

In a series of photos under the collective title Rest and Recovery / Silent Resistance, Cecilia Germain invites us to enter the sleep-world, not as a passive escape, but as a mode of activism and survival technique for combatting the effects of ongoing racialised trauma, in the world, and here in Sweden. Sleep and dreaming are proposed as liminal and borderless experiences that provide access to ancestral wisdom, as well as intuition and other dimensions of meaning. Responding to growing planetary and social uncertainties, Germain’s work explores the possibilities for using artistic practices as both medium and methodology for different modes of healing, as well as imagining alternative futures.

The Dream Keeper opens up a multisensory art experience that moves between different image worlds and plant environments. It is a meeting place for ethnobotanical stories but can also serve as a therapeutic landscape for wayfinding back to inner radical knowledge. It presents photographic works, graphic prints, watercolours, video work, artist books, olfactory pieces and a living plant installation.

A sacred sleep object from the Etnografiska Museet collection is included in the space as an entity that carries further histories, biographical memory maps, and domains of knowledge. There will also be a community herbarium that gathers plant wisdom from the local Fittja community, and thus serves as a “living” situated ethnobotanical archive.

The opening of the exhibition will be the starting point for engagement with other collaborators and the local community, who will extend and reflect on the themes of the exhibition, through public programming which will take place online, in the art space and outdoors.

Exhibition introduction by Temi Odumosu.

online conversation

Blood, Earth, Water: A Conversation between Cecilia Germain & Temi Odumosu

This artist and curator conversation explores the main themes, histories, and ideas informing The Dream Keeper exhibition, as an unfolding liberatory project. Artist Cecilia Germain and curator Temi Odumosu discuss what brought them to this collaboration, and open-up some of the research processes behind specific artworks, occasionally deep-diving the poetics of artistic materials, as well as introducing some of the people and projects who have been inspirational in their work. The conversation is held in English.

art reviews

Frieze issue 221
Cecilia Germain on the Political Power of Sleep by Matthew Rana:

In the Nordic region, where states are finally starting to reckon with their colonial pasts, this is a particularly fraught task. Not least because the important work of recovering Black (and Brown) archives risks institutional appropriation – in Sweden, at least, where recent public debates surrounding identity and inclusivity have tended to overshadow political demands for structural change. Inviting us to consider the problem in terms not of representation, but of creating a future that is hospitable to Black life, ‘The Dream Keeper’ is a visionary exhibition that is at once intimate and down-to-earth.

Dagens Nyheter
Död, drömmar och väldoft på Botkyrka konsthall by Birgitta Rubin.

Svenska Dagbladet
Poetiskt, smärtsamt och helande om Afrika by Karola Modig.

Kunstkritikk
Drömmen om att sova by Valerie Kyeyune Backström.

Cecilia Germain, Rest and Recovery / Silent Resistance, detail, 2020

collaboration and support

Etnografiska museet, Grafiska Sällskapets Grafikverkstad, Uppsala Botaniska Trädgård

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