Mathieu Asselin - Hasselblad Foundation Sweden

Spring 2021

Due to the pandemic and restrictions in Sweden, the exhibition 'Dear Truth', curated by Kerstin Hamilton, is postponed. The Hasselblad Foundation in Gothenburg is hoping to open the exhibition early April and the show will, if possible, be extended till May 14, 2021.

 The times we live in have been characterised as a period of post-truth – one in which fact-based truths are often replaced by so-called alternative facts. Emotions and personal beliefs are used to sway public opinion at the expense of science-based arguments.


In photography, objectivity and truth have been debated since the 1980s, and the once widespread idea of photography as a neutral representation has been discredited. Portraying other people’s lives is challenging and there is the constant risk of exoticisation and exploitation. Documentary photography has therefore long been subject to criticism, but in the last twenty years, the field has undergone a change. Today, photo-based artists are approaching social issues with new strategies and an awareness of their own role in forming narratives.


This exhibition explores how nine contemporary artists approach ideas of truth, facts, and objectivity, and how they – guided by ethical reflections – make urgent matters visible. Their work portrays some of the most challenging issues of our time: human rights, the environment, democracy, migration, technology, and violence. The projects are rooted in social realities – but they do not attempt to represent reality. The artists step into the world, turn to archives, and nuance established views. Here, the truth plays a central part – not as an authoritarian or neutral vision, but as a starting point for socially engaged contemporary art.


Mathieu Asselin's 'Monsanto, 2019' will be exhibited at the Hasselblad Foundation Center coming spring, exact dates to be confirmed. Asselin’s photo-based examination of the multinational biotechnology company Monsanto focuses on the devastating effect of toxins introduced into the landscape by Monsanto. The ambitious, five-year undertaking that started in 2011 gave rise to images that serve as reminders of personal suffering and environmental destruction in the wake of one company’s pursuit of profit.


Asselin says, “Everybody has their own truths, depending on their moral grounds. The full story is that Monsanto did good things, too. I am choosing to tell only one side of the story because I believe nothing that Monsanto has done good can make up for all the bad things that they have done.” He photographs scenes in the present and adds depth by digging into Monsanto’s advertising history. Archival images that communicate idealized Monsanto visions make up a substantial part of Asselin’s work, entangling the fictitious, dreamy corporate scenarios of the past with new photographs that testify to real traumas in the present.


Participating artists: Laia Abril, Mathieu Asselin, Lara Baladi, Kerstin Hamilton, Axel Karlsson Rixon, Bouchra Khalili, Frida Orupabo, Trevor Paglen and Taryn Simon.


Curator: Kerstin Hamilton, PhD candidate in Artistic Research at HDK-Valand, Gothenburg University


The exhibition is part of Kerstin Hamilton’s on-going research project The Objectivity Laboratory: Photography and Reality in Times of Post-Truth. The public defence of the dissertation will take place in November 2021. Also, it will be accompanied by a catalogue in newspaper format, distributed both digitally and in print.

March 18, 2021
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