Installation view

Runo Lagomarsino »I am also smoke«

Stockholm , October 01, 2020 - November 07, 2020

One of the most difficult verbs is to relinquish. I had to look it up. It means ceasing to keep or claim, giving something or somebody up, renouncing.

In our refrigerator, the one I share with Runo Lagomarsino, there is a box, the size and shape of a matchbox, all white, inhabited by three dead ornamental fish. León, the son I have with Runo Lagomarsino, refuses to give their bodies any other destiny. They died on different dates, probably of different unknown causes, and one by one they ended up in the same cold and dry cardboard box.

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Museums are the ultimate bodies that refuse to relinquish. This is where nations invest their resources, in keeping and claiming. Imposing buildings, trained professionals, solid budgets, specialized researchers, developed techniques, exquisite materials, all of it only to keep dead ornamental fishes and the like from disappearing. But it is not about allowing life to continue, living fish are smelly and slippery, and all life entails death and decay.

The Ethnological Museum of Berlin, for example, has a laboratory in which insect species found in the collection are bred and observed. They need to be known to be controlled. Understanding their habits and preferences is necessary for avoiding them feeding from the fabric and fibre artefacts, for inhibiting them from laying their eggs and growing their larvae in the narrow passages of carved wood objects and preventing metal items from oxidising in contact with their excrement.

Museologists try their best, and yet they fail. Their work is to keep trying, to never let go. A whole machine is set in motion to guarantee that all process of decay is as delayed as possible. And yet, insects and still smaller creatures insist in reproducing, crawling around beyond the control of our naked or dressed eyes and feeding from our breath and our treasures. Like drops of water dripping on rocks for centuries. Like soft but insistent kicks on a solid wall. Harmless to begin with, corroding in their reiteration, violent in their obstinacy. One of the most difficult verbs is to relinquish.

Sometimes León wants to show his fish to our guests, not only the ones swimming in the aquarium, but also those lying in the matchbox. He opens it carefully, as it something could be lost in contact with air, and closes it soon, as if air could still stop them from breathing. Or a part of them could still escape. If he had the resources, he would probably like to have a transparent glass bubble around each withered fish. To contain not only the dead body, but also the space that surrounds it, that draws its shape; and the time that should have stopped when the body stopped moving. To contain a sort of last breath and the few grams that separate the dead from the living.

There is an endless list of invisible things that it would be consoling to contain, to keep and revisit. Some moments. The processed smoke from a cigarette, after it travels around someone’s lungs carrying the heat, the taste known from another land and the memories it evokes. Each drag inside one glass bubble. Forever. Hopefully wrapped in exquisite materials, maintained with developed techniques by specialized researchers and trained professionals inside an imposing building.

But it is also vital to learn and relinquish. To trust not only the incandescent light that can merely exist inside glass bubbles, but also that of candles, which trembles with each breath or drag and consumes the vehicle of its own existence. It is vital to give up, to let go, to leave behind. There are moments when the duration of a cigarette is the time that is needed, to lose some grams and gain them back. To renounce a land and conquer another. And by the time the ember is extinguished against the sidewalk – a decided foot, sole against soil – we grab what we can carry and walk. The only fish to care for being those in the rivers, smelly and slippery, the ones that lay eggs in dark corners and eat their own progeny.

Carla Zaccagnini, September 2020

Runo Lagomarsino was born in Lund, Sweden in 1977 and lives and works in Malmö and São Paulo. In 2019 Lagomarsino was awarded The Friends of Moderna Museet Sculpture Prize, with a parallel solo exhibition at Moderna Museet, Stockholm. He participated in the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015 as well as exhibitions in The Göteborg International Biennale for Contemporary Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit and the Reina Sofia, Madrid in the same year. Other recent solo exhibitions include venue such as Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, TX, 2018, La Criée Centre d’art Contemporain, Rennes, FR and Malmö Konsthall, Malmö, SE both 2015. Group participations include The Phillips Collection, Washington DC, USA, Daadgalerie, Berlin, DE, and Tensta Konsthall, Stockholm, SE (all 2019), Colección FEMSA, Centro Cultural La Moneda, Santiago, RCH, Padiglione d’Arte Contemporanea (PAC), Milan, IT, MAM-Mario Mauroner Contemporary Art Salzburg, Vienna, AUT, La XIII Bienal FEMSA, Zacatecas, MX (all 2018), LACMA, Los Angeles, US, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, US and Kadist, San Franscisco, US (all 2017).

Lagomarsino’s work can be found in public collections including Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art, New York, Guangdong Museum of Art, Guandong, Dallas Museum of Art, Texas, Coppel Collection, Mexico City, Kiasma Museum of Modern Art, Helsinki, Malmö Museum of Modern Art, Malmö, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, The National Museum of Art, Oslo and Teixeira de Freitas Art Collection, Lisbon.

Air d'exil (we smoke for the dead, we store for the dead, but they are not dead), 2019, 20 handblown glass globes containing smoke from Oscar, nano slim cigarettes, smoked by Yazan, placed on podium, glass globes: 10 x 20 x 100 cm, 
podium: 96.5 x 105.5 x 23 cm

Air d'exil (we smoke for the dead, we store for the dead, but they are not dead), 2019, 20 handblown glass globes containing smoke from Oscar, nano slim cigarettes, smoked by Yazan, placed on podium, glass globes: 10 x 20 x 100 cm, 
podium: 96.5 x 105.5 x 23 cm

Air d'exil (we smoke for the dead, we store for the dead, but they are not dead), 2019, detail

A line can now be drawn, 2020, carved wood and iron stirrup from 19th century South America, motor and electricity, 20 x 15 x 19 cm dimensions variable

A line can now be drawn, 2020, carved wood and iron stirrup from 19th century South America, motor and electricity, 20 x 15 x 19 cm dimensions variable

A line can now be drawn, 2020, carved wood and iron stirrup from 19th century South America, motor and electricity, 20 x 15 x 19 cm dimensions variable

Tales from the Underworld, 2020, 49 white matchboxes with dead insects from the Ethnographical Museum in Berlin laid down on top of a piece of newspaper, 49 matchboxes, current installation: 25 cm center to center

Tales from the Underworld, 2020, detail

Tales from the Underworld, 2020, detail

Tales from the Underworld, 2020, detail

Words which really were clouds (The Geography of Hunger), 2019-2020, burned parchment paper, 43 x 38.5 cm each

Words which really were clouds (The Geography of Hunger), 2019-2020, detail

Language is a companion of the empire, 2020, iron, copper and 2 broken keys (one is labelled gold and one labelled land), 135 x 101 x 10 cm

Language is a companion of the empire, 2020, iron, copper and 2 broken keys (one is labelled gold and one labelled land), 135 x 101 x 10 cm

Language is a companion of the empire, 2020, detail

Language is a companion of the empire, 2020, detail

Installation view

Freedom for Fire, 2020, iron, candles, lightbulbs and cables, here 10 lamps and 10 candle holders
Yo tambien soy humo / I am also smoke, 2020, video, 3:16 min

Freedom for Fire, 2020, detail

Freedom for Fire, 2020, iron, candles, lightbulbs and cables, here 10 lamps and 10 candle holders
Yo tambien soy humo / I am also smoke, 2020, video, 3:16 min

Yo tambien soy humo / I am also smoke, 2020, video, 3:16 min, still