Moderna Museet is proud to present the first museum survey exhibition in Europe by Stockholm-based artist and writer Every Ocean Hughes. Titled “Alive Time”, this presentation will feature a selection of the artist’s most significant works of the last decade that address the struggle and ingenuity of queer life. “Alive Time” takes place in various chapters and at different locations across Skeppsholmen island, including MDT and Eric Ericsonhallen/Skeppsholmskyrkan, thus aligning the format of the exhibition with Hughes’s approach to dispersal, fragmentation, and movement as distinctly queer strategies.
“Alive Time” stages the full breadth of Every Ocean Hughes’s interdisciplinary practice, including performance, installation, sculpture, writing, and video. Using Hughes’s text Uncounted as a guide, the exhibition considers “alive time,” “the politics of performance,” and “transitions.” In this, Hughes employs a vocabulary of movement and margins, care and kinship, and celebration and survival. The result is an exhibition that puts in motion queer perspectives on fundamental questions on life and death that we face as a society today.
Reflecting on the use of her text Uncounted as a script for making the exhibition, Hughes states: This ambitious project with Moderna Museet gives me the opportunity to think through my question “how can we build a structure to be alive inside?” Opening up the frame of the exhibition towards other spaces outside of the museum, such as MDT and Skeppsholmskyrkan, creates a different spatial structure, one that will also have to be seen in chapters, over time. It defies a linear experience of the exhibition. This also speaks to works in the show that use and rely on liveness, performativity, and ephemerality to exist. In this way, my practice and the exhibition are aligned, operating in the same vein, doing the same thing—giving space to the notion of “alive time.”
Many of Hughes’s early works, including the performance A Gay Bar Called Everywhere (With Costumes and No Practice) (2011/2022) and the text/performance Uncounted (2013-2017/2022), engage with what is “unseen in time,” as a deliberate move to prioritize the margin. In “Alive Time”, Hughes revisits both works, considering the spaces in which queer life manifests within this new era of cultural politics and activism.
Building on her training as a death doula, a companion in the transition from life to death, Hughes has developed the idea of “queer death” in more recent works. In the performance Help the Dead (2019) and her film One Big Bag (2021), Hughes probes ideas on self-determination, survival, diverse kinship, accountability, and end-of-life aesthetics within the social and material reality of death.
Hendrik Folkerts, curator of “Alive Time” (in collaboration with Catrin Lundqvist), remarks: Death is, of course, the great equalizer—the one universal thing we all share. However, different ways of living also lead to different ways of experiencing death. That, for me, is the arch of this exhibition: to better understand how to live a life that is anchored in difference as a liberating concept, beyond normative or oppressive structures, yet within the conditions that connect us all.
At Moderna Museet, Stockholm
until April 17, 2022