Bloomers in the woods is Josefin Arnell's first solo exhibition at the gallery.
Arnell ended her stay at the Rijksacademie with a high-profile film. "Gag
reflex I wanna puke in heaven" which was raw, in your face and rebellious.
A film like you don't see them often.
"With Bloomers in the woods," Arnell continues on the same theme. This
time it is not just adolescents, but it is her mother who can be filmed
unattended. In a snowy Swedish landscape we see her practice shooting
while singing the song 'Den blomstertid nu kommer' ('Now the time of
blossoming arrives'), a popular Swedish hymn about the coming of
summer, often sung by children on the last day of school before the
summer break. The video lasts only two minutes, but will stay with you for
a long time. It has something uncomfortable and terrifying because of the
contrast between the sweet text and the hardness of the gun.
Bloomers in the Woods is the second film Arnell dedicates to her mother.
Arnell even sees her somewhat ironically as her muse and in her first film
adaptation she brings her alcoholic mother to Brazil to stay for some time
with the healer John of God. (later this John of God turned out to be the
biggest Brazilian #me too scandal). At Bloomers in the Woods, Arnell's
mother is surrounded by two sculptures of naked girls eaten by some sort
of giant ticks. They stand in the gallery space as more than life-size
In Arnell's own words: “The Bloomers are the different characters
presented: the girl, the tick, mother earth and my mother. They all bloom,
develop, wake up from winter while naked, sing like the inviting spring. The
ticks grow stronger, are violent, fight each other. All in immature behavior.
The two gleaming sculptures stand as guardians of a temple, a gateway to
a world ruled by slobby ticks, hunters of blood and human flesh. ”
The sculptures are the most recent part of a series of works in which Arnell
researches the insect's tick. Arnell uses the tick as a metaphor for our
allegedly failed ambition to live harmoniously together on this planet. The
works surrounding the tick draw attention to the ecological threats and
related environmental and political discussions. For example, the
controversy over the treatment methods of Lyme disease, which is often
referred to as an invisible disease. When conventional medications are not
yet able to provide treatment and health insurance policies do not provide
coverage outside of specific regulations, it immediately becomes a political
question: who can afford to be sick? In this way, Arnell links her tick
obsession to her mother's life course and addiction disease where healing
can be expensive and stigmatizing. In 2019 Arnell was commissioned by the
Van Abbe museum to make one of her first outdoor sculptures: "The Tick".
Arnell links the personal to the social, text to image, fairytale to reality, the
ugly to the beautiful. Her work contains a cacophony of contrasts and it is
In 2018, Josefin Arnell was awarded the Theodora Niemeijer Prijs—a prize
for emerging female artists based in the Netherlands, which additionally
resulted in a commissioned exhibition at Van Abbe Museum (Eindhoven).
Arnell’s work has also been presented at International Documentary Film
Festival (Amsterdam), Kunsthalle Münster (Münster), Beursschouwburg
(Brussels), Contemporary Art Center Vilnius (Vilnius), and Moscow
International Biennale for Young Art 2018 (Moscow). From 2015 to 2016,
she participated in the two-year residency program Rijksakademie van
Beeldende kunsten (Amsterdam). She holds an MA in Dirty Art from
Sandberg Instituut (Amsterdam).