Absolut Art Bar: Ilja Karilampi, President Room

Words by Elena Scarpa
September 24, 2015

A new art bar entitled President Room will be open from the 25th to the 26th of September in Stockholm on the occasion of the Absolut Art Award Ceremony weekend. Karilampi will transform a hidden underground garage space in central Stockholm into an engaging and performative environment, drawing on and layering elements of Sweden’s street culture.

The site-specific installation will feature a fully functioning Swedish convenience store ‘Mehmets’ Livs’, filled with an eclectic selection of imported snack food and confectioneries, unusual soft drinks and toiletries, as well as work by the artist. TV screens playing Karilampi’s short video works will be on display and a disinterested shop assistant will sit behind the counter. Through a beaded curtain at the back of the ‘Mehmets’ Livs’, visitors will pass through a concealed door to enter the inner President Room, a speakeasy complete with the artist’s signature distorted neon signs, reflective mirror walls, Plexiglas and aluminium relief wall sculptures, as well as Karilampi’s unique UV logos, copper signs, decals and stickers.

President Room is a continuation of Karilampi’s practice, which explores the individual’s relationship with urban environments and the socio-economics of street sub-cultures, using the appropriation of slogans, symbols and decals as well as music through his weekly radio show, Downtown Ilja, on Berlin Community Radio. The installation will feature a changing nightly program of live music, DJ sets and screenings, all curated by the artist. A series of limited edition Artist Cocktails designed by Karilampi and inspired by the themes of President Room and well as Ilia’s fascination of Swedish traditional every day ingredients will be served.

The collaboration is the lastest of a series between Absolut and leading contemporary artists on Art Bars and follows critically acclaimed installations byYazan Khalili (b.1981, Ramallah) at Art Dubai 2015, Nadim Abbas (b.1980, Hong Kong) at Art Basel in Hong Kong in 2014 and Mickalene Thomas (b. 1971, Camden, New Jersey) at Art Basel 2013.

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