Annika Lundgren is known in the art world for her Public Educational Tours that offer tourists as well as art visitors biographical guided bus tours through various cities of the western world. During these bus tours, which provide an atmospheric mix between physical transportation and exhibition space, between imagined and real space, Lundgren is not only playing the role of the reliable tourist guide; she is also playing with history. Lundgren doesn't work with documentaries, but with fictionalisations of reality. She goes a little bit further than those who try to reveal the truths about the world we live in. Those so-called truths are rarely exposed to re-evaluation or factual investigation. What she is trying to reveal are the lies we are predisposed to believe in. Lundgren proves that the best way to represent reality is through misrepresentation. To her, Napoleon is as fictional and constructed as the characters that she invents. She is therefore showing us what happens when reality becomes distorted. We no longer know what to believe. But did we know it before? If truth is relative why are we so eager to grasp it?

Lundgren’s imaginary tours address the complex inter-relations between people and their history, between information and disinformation, certainty and uncertainty. The question that pervades her work is: are we prepared to give up our solid truths about the world we live in in exchange for another point of view? Lundgren’s work is not about art education or social reform, it is about the collision and the interplay between art and people. Lundgren is experimenting with different roles, activating the know-how of a specific skill, and questioning the borders of professionalism. The real discussion can take place when the question ‘but is it art?’ ceases to be important, when the borders between art and non-art, between art piece and beholder, no longer exist, and people’s self-agency is set in motion.

Nobody wants to attach the label ‘popular’ onto their works nowadays; still almost everybody wants to reach an audience as large as possible. The Brechtian distanciation of cultural practices has become a distanciation from the people. On the other hand, the idea of access to art for all has no meaning. The illusion of cultural communism has to be denounced and reinvented. The existing popular culture in bourgeois societies has taken other forms than those of art; that is why art today is reinventing itself through the adoption of populist strategies towards its audience. Art has once and for all descended from its pedestal. Lundgren’s interventions into the everyday scenario of our lives therefore make us wonder, is art capable of changing who we are, or at least who we think we are?

By Sinziana Ravini



"Alice Stiernfeldt Tanwier - A Biographical Guided Tour" (2000) (An arrangement by Annika Lundgren and public Educational Tours.) Photo documentation: Milo Photography.