The Other Shore

4-channel video installation
37’ loop

video installation with mini-projectors

The Other Shore” is a vídeo-installation especially conceived for MAM that proposes a reflection on the Atlantic as a site of passage, with its stories of diaspora and colonization.

The new video installation by Swedish artist Mats Hjelm, The Other Shore, is part of our periodic offer of temporary exhibitions of contemporary foreign and Brazilian artists whose works, especially when not represented in the Museu de Arte Moderna collections, complement its modern and contemporary profile. But aside from this relevance, there are specific questions that further underline and justify MAM’s claim as a prime venue for such an exhibition. Set on the sea front of Rio de Janeiro in the South Atlantic, it occupies, according to Hjelm’s poetic criteria, one of the shores visible in the work.

The Other Shore posits a poetic reflection about the Atlantic as a space of transit between the different shores of this ocean that link histories of diaspora, colonization, and the mystery of liberation by navigating to an “other” place, as well as the horrors of captivity awaiting those who are shipped against their will and the voyage back to their homeland.

Hjelm’s multimedia syntax, produced by the edited correlation of images, texts, music, and song – media often separated in purist, autonomous notions of language inherited from modernism – comes together in a hybridized whole, like a poetic equivalent of our polarized daily lives. As a result, The Other Shore has a powerful semantic and narrative drive that makes it overflow from the internal structure of linguistic systems to the outside world, with which it poetically connects.

This outflowing does not, however, result from a linear edition of sounds and images succeeding one another in a given sequence. There are four simultaneous projections, two by two, on the front and back of the screen, which show on one side audio and visual records of literary and musical works – people and landscapes – recorded on the shores of the Atlantic, combined in flows that do not always fit together logically. On the other side of the screen, projections of watery images evoke the fluid waterway formed by the shores that delimit the Atlantic like a gigantic ocean web that still enables the mass geographic circulation of human beings. A history that cannot be fathomed in the sphere of discourse, but which can be experienced here on a poetic plane.

Fernando Cocchiarale e Fernanda Lopes
Curators, MAM

Thoughts from a travel companion

Mats Hjelm is a dancer of the in-between and creates multifaceted filmic narratives with a warm heart and cool precision. Hjelm is a bard who delicately weaves together contemporary history, facts, the collective unconscious and intimacy into a visual song that illuminates darkness and calls for a quiet and intensive presence.

Hjelm’s method is careful, aware, fragile and receptive – like a search without a map that reminds of the lone explorer’s journey into time and space. A diary beyond words that opens onto a world of images, bare and endless.

The Other Shore is a textiliar weave in and out of different worlds. In the warp we see memories, words, images that alternate between pain and hopefulness, a rhythm of patterns in a constant beat that resonates in a longing to become complete.

The Other Shore is an image patchwork that stretches across the Atlantic and where different continents are colored with layer upon layer of stories. Like an icon painter painstakingly applying color, Mats Hjelm yearns to bring forward an inner voice and give form to the whispers that unite us in the timeless patina of the here and now.

Having worked in video installations and documentary film since the early 2000s, Mats Hjelm often revives broken testimonies in his works, like Bertolt Brecht’s trial statements from 1947 for the “House of Un-American Activities Committee’ during the McCarthy era in a panorama film Deliverance (2005) at the Historical Museum in Stockholm. Since then, Hjelm has been interested in a poetic and personal journey through recent history, memory, the human capacity for faith and the need for reconciliation, as with Samuel Beckett’s “Embers” (1959) in The Other Shore.

These voices trace folds upon folds on recent and contemporary history in an artistic continuum that characterizes Hjelm’s work.

Celia Prado
Artistic Director – The Swedish Artists’ Association

Exhibition Jul 26 – Sept 3 2017
Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro

Curator Fernando Cocchiarale and Fernanda Lopes

Norrtälje konsthall
Gävle konsthall

Text Celia Prado 

Directing, camera, editing and production
Mats Hjelm

sound design Peter Adolfsson
cinematography Annika Busch  
dance Ulriqa Fernqvist
voice Isabel Löfgren
sound consultant Jesper Johansson
location sound Claes Herrlander
subtitles Alex Castro 

Preston Papa Jackson Liberia 
Anthony Kojo Darin USA


The Embers Samuel Beckett, 1959
Jarabi Toumani Diabaté, live recording, 2011
Oh Lord Jesus coro de igreja de Nimba County Nimba County Church choir, 2012
No Money, No Love The Ambassador Club Band/Ducor Palace Hotel, undated

Supported by IASPIS/The Swedish Arts Grants Committee, The Swedish Embassy in Brasilia, the Swedish Consulate in Rio de Janeiro

Courtesy Cecilia Hillström Gallery, Stockholm

Installation views

®2021 Mats Hjelm Studio