Patti Smith: Eighteen Stations

23 Sep 2016 – 19 Feb 2017

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Perhaps there is no past or future, only the perpetual present that contains this trinity of memory. –Patti Smith, M Train (2015)


Patti Smith (born 1946) is an artist, performer, and poet who has had made her mark on the American cultural landscape throughout her fifty-year career. During her early explorations in the visual arts she worked closely with Robert Mapplethorpe, whom she met in New York City in 1967. They remained friends until Mapplethorpe’s death in 1989. Smith also pursued a music career. Her 1975 album Horses established her as one of the most important artists of her generation. In 2011, Smith was awarded the Polar Music Prize.

Eighteen Stations is the artist’s first exhibition in Sweden. It revolves around the world of M Train (2015): part memoir, part dreamscape, part elegy for the departed and for time itself. Smith describes the book as “a roadmap to my life,” as told from the cafés and dwellings she has worked from globally. Reflecting the themes and sensibility of the book, Eighteen Stations is a meditation on the act of artistic creation, as well as the passage of time. It features the artist’s illustrative photographs that accompany the book’s pages, along with works by Smith that speak to art and literature’s potential to offer hope and consolation. Beds, statues, tools, and tombstones, which bear the names of figures who have shaped our culture, form a kind of visual diary. Frida Kahlo, Tolstoy, Jean Genet, Virginia Woolf, Wittgenstein, and Roberto Bolaño are resurrected through pictures of their belongings or their final resting places.

Smith uses a vintage Land 250 Polaroid camera, originally manufactured in the late 1960s with a Zeiss Ikon-designed rangefinder. The camera uses special film that produces a developing print instantly. Within seconds of snapping a photograph, an image begins to appear within a narrow white border. Smith’s Polaroid photographs are then issued as gelatin silver prints in editions of ten. In an era of digital imaging and manipulation, her works champion the use of photography in its most classical sense—as a tool to document a found moment.

In connection with Eighteen Stations, Kulturhuset Stadsteatern presents ‘Patti Smith’s library.’ Here visitors to the exhibition can read and borrow books from a selection of literary works that have inspired and informed the artist’s work. 

This exhibition was organized by Robert Miller Gallery and produced by Kulturhuset Stadsteatern.


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