Published in NU: Nordic art review, issue 6/00


Gunilla Klingberg Contemporary consumer culture and urban iconography is the subject matter
of Gunilla Klingberg's ongoing project All Lost in the Supermarket. For the past couple of years
she has been manipulating logotypes. Not those of global corporations, or the expensive and
exclusive ones, but rather those representing one of the less glamorous, mundane activities
of everyday life - grocery shopping.
Klingberg has painted the distorted logotypes of low-price supermarket chains directly on the
gallery wall, and they have appeared as enormous mandala-like patterns on a series of
billboards. Continuing this theme, she has now produced a series of video animations, four to
date, entitled Spar Loop, a collection of logotypes of ubiquitous supermarkets such as the
Swedish Sparlivs and the Dutch Spar. Depending on the exhibition location, she incorporates a
local variant, thus providing a commercial portrait of the cityscape.
The videos contain four or five logotypes, each of which whirls, twirls and mutates, continually
changing, giving rise to a kaleidoscopic array of decorative patterns for two-three minutes
before being replaced by the next logotype that is given the same treatment. A myriad of
complex psychedelic patterns and shapes appear, sometimes they resemble brightly coloured
flowers, or snowflakes, other times they are abstract, symmetrical and geometrical. As one
hypnotic, seductive pattern after another unfolds and is replaced by yet another in an unending
flow, the gaze is irresistibly drawn deeper and deeper into the centre.
The mesmerising effects of Spar Loop reflect well Klingberg's choice of the mandala form for
her animations. A mandala is a symbolic, holy, circular figure representing the universe in various
religions, and is used for contemplation and as a meditation aid. In Klingberg's schematised
representation of the cosmos the images of the deities and their attributes have been replaced by
commercial logotypes, creating a diametrical opposition between form and content. Is meditating
on these images going to lead to enlightenment, inner harmony and self-awareness?
Perhaps not. Instead of worshipping at the shrine, we are paying homage to consumerism.
We may no longer be in the iron-grip of religion but we are increasingly controlled and manipulated
by the market. In all media and wherever we go, we are bombarded by advertising images
imploring us to consume.
In psychological terms, a mandala is a symbol in a dream representing the dreamer's search for
completeness and self-unity. For many of us, who seek comfort and reassurance, shopping
may be the answer. In the department stores, we are aided by personal shoppers, the spiritual
guides or gurus of our time, who skilfully lead us directly, and miraculously, to the right item
that will provide us with a sense of wholeness. However, Klingberg's logotypes are not those
that we normally associate with shopping for pleasure, but with shopping for our most basic
needs which, perhaps, reminds us that we have to look for enlightenment somewhere else than
in the market place, otherwise all will be lost in the supermarket.

Karen Diamond