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Swans in Sweden – David Shrigley makes his giant, inflatable mark on Stockholm's Spritmuseum

October 12, 2018

We've all come to expect the quirky, at times confusing, hilarity that British artist David Shrigley delivers with any and every venture he embarks upon. His artistry encapsulates an irreverent, astute sense of humour that has transcended British culture, and that he has given new shades of identity. He certainly rises to his own peculiar occasion in his latest endeavour – an exhibition of giant, inflatable 'swan-things' inside Stockholm's Museum of Spirits, or Spritmuseum.

 

Cover photo: Exhibition of Giant, Inflatable Swan-things, David Shrigley, Spritmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden. Photo by Jonas Lindström

Exhibition of Giant, Inflatable Swan-things, David Shrigley, Spritmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden. Photo by Jonas Lindström

 

Shrigley's Exhibition of Giant Inflatable Swan-things is an installation created exclusively for the Spritmuseum, which holds a permanent collection, as well as temporary exhibitions, related to the drinking culture of Sweden. It's home to the Absolut Art Collection, which consists of some 850 artworks by 550 artists from around the world, and was initiated by none other than Andy Warhol in 1986. “We have been eager to host an exhibition by David ever since Spritmuseum opened in 2012,” Mia Sundberg, curator of the museum’s collection, said. And it was the three-dimensionality of this show that they found particularly interesting. 

Exhibition of Giant, Inflatable Swan-things, David Shrigley, Spritmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden. Photo by Jonas Lindström

 

Indeed, Shrigley's over-sized swan-things exert their three-dimensionality with erect boldness, resembling rows of pale fists holding up identical taught middle fingers. Their heads are marked with Shrigley's characteristic illustrative style – an expression that's half friendly, half acerbic. Each swan-thing, although erect, deflates every twelve minutes, allowing random tipping of necks to add to the general absurdity of the oversized bevy.

Exhibition of Giant, Inflatable Swan-things, David Shrigley, Spritmuseum, Stockholm, Sweden. Photo by Jonas Lindström

 

Shrigley's swan-things were conceived almost two decades ago, in a limited edition series of hand-held swan statuettes that Shrigley made in 2000, cast in polyurethane resin. More recently, they were produced and sold by retailer Third Drawer Down as Ridiculous Inflatable Swan Things – a parodic addition to the ceaseless string of summer inflatables that dominate millennial social media feeds the world over. 

 

Although hilarious at its core, the exhibition is also characterised by movement, by air flowing in and out of each of the identical, blimpish forms. As always, Shrigley pulls viewers in with a seemingly nonsensical veneer, and then proceeds to provide different layers of experience and enjoyment as they stand inexplicably amongst the tall, bloated birds. Ridiculous? Yes. Engaging and liberating? Hell yes. 

 

For more information on David Shrigley's Exhibition of Giant, Inflatable Swan-things, visit the Spritmuseum's website.

NEXT: Humour and beauty are our greatest survival tools

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