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Ambiguity, Audiences & Accountability

Art´s ambiguous qualities, the relation to its audiences and accountability issues where the key topics of this symposium about the artwork Pirate Lane held by artist Clay Ketter, curator Magnus af Petersens and Associate Professor Ebba Sjögren

In November 2015 the artwork Pirate Lane by the artist Clay Ketter was donated to SSE. 

The work of art registers the foundations of homes that were destroyed by the hurricane Kathrina in 2005. It is one of the most widely discussed natural disasters in the last decade, with unimaginable consequences for the people living in this part of the world, and raised numerous questions concerning the rapid climate changes as well as social-political issues.

In a thought provoking symposium the curator Magnus af Petersens discussed the artwork´s ambiguous qualities, fluctuating between esoteric and formal abstraction and profane anthropological documentary photography registering the remaining traces of lives brutally evaporated by Kathrina, thereby shining light on the complexities and strangeness of climate change as both something abstract and utterly concrete at the same time. 

Clay Ketter discussed the co-producing aspect of the relation between the artwork and its audiences, how the artwork shines light on the issues of the illusion of stability in society, and his views on how we are stuck in a deplorable state, suspended in desire, overemphasising the now. Instead, Ketter suggested that “(…) projecting ourselves into the future, and descriptions and illustrations thereof, are far more valid than any attempt to summarize the now”.  Ketter, thereby opened up the possibility for the audiences of the artwork to use it as a source of thinking not only about the societal reality of today but to imagine future states of perhaps more sustainable societies. 

Ebba Sjögren, Associate Professor in Accounting at SSE, then succeeded with a lecture dealing with questions about accountability issues raised by the artwork. Through a philosophical exposition of the concept Sjögren discussed how to think about who is responsible, for what, and when in the light of the socio-political issues and ecological challenges made palpable by the artwork Pirate Lane. 

The symposium ended with a concluding discussion based on the questions posed by a panel of questioners consisting of Mikaela Knutson (SASSE Art Division, BSc student at SSE), Karin Svedberg Helgesson (Associate Professor in Management, SSE), and Alan Shima (Docent in American Literature). 


About the lecturers:

Magnus af Petersens is a curator of contemporary art, Head of Exhibitions and Collections at Moderna Museet and is responsible for the museum’s collection of international art from 1965. He is one of the most internationally acclaimed experts on Clay Ketters work and produced Ketter's solo exhibition at Moderna Museet in 2009.

Ebba Sjögren is an Associate Professor at the Department of Accounting and an affiliate of the Mistra Center for Sustainable Markets (MISUM) at SSE. Her main research interest is the exercise and justification of knowledge-based judgment in organizational decision-making. She is presently studying how anti-money laundering regulation is implemented in audit and law firms, and how professional capital market actors use financial reporting information.

Clay Ketter is one of Sweden´s most well known artists. His work has been exhibited in numerous museums, art institutions and galleries around the world. He works in a variety of such as painting, installations and photography. His artworks often operates in a vibrant state between the abstract and the concrete, between art and life, and manages to take the viewer by surprise by a skillful combination of content and execution.