Gallery Steinsland Berliner – Akay and Olabo – What a waste– November 05 to December 4, 2021 – Bondegatan 70
116 33 Stockholm, Sweden
ABOUT the artists
Olabo, also Mr Olabo, is a Swedish scribbler and street artist. He is not educated at any art school but started with graffiti as a young man but took a break for almost ten years. He was then inspired, around the year 2008, by a meeting with the French artist the Wa. They later collaborated, including in a project in 2015 that was a tribute to Marcel Duchamp’s work Fountain and was allowed to bear the same name. He began by writing Mr Olabo in a font inspired by the early superman along with stencils and hard copies of photographs from his grandparents’ youth but also in other ways, for example designed as the Coca-Cola logo and placing it on advertising pillars. His two most notable works are The Hyenas at Stureplan and Positiv negativ.
The hyenas at Stureplan were five 100 kilogram heavy statues of hyenas in concrete that were placed on Engelbrektsplan at Stureplan in Stockholm. During the 1990s, Stureplan became the gathering place for notable parts of Stockholm’s nightlife and the work also had a “species-determining” information sign similar to those found at zoos that stated that “Stureplanshyenan” is nocturnal, feeds on easily impressed servants and fears solidarity and community. The information sign was written by the street artist Folke who also helped to place the concrete hyenas. They lasted only one week between 30 June and 7 July 2011 but led to a longer debate about Stockholm City’s zero tolerance for graffiti, which includes pretty much everything that is placed in the public space without a permit. The hyenas were shown in the winter of 2017 at the street art exhibition Kvadrart in Stockholm.
In collaboration with Gallery HL, a separate exhibition called Positive Negative was made, which was based on two linked works. It started by sawing out his signature from one of Stockholm’s graffiti guards at a transformer station on Ekerö in 2009, two years later he painted over a larger billboard with white paint at Slussen in Stockholm and screwed up the sawn-off slats, so that they recreated his signature without the graffiti protection.  The exhibition revolved around the two works and the documentation in the form of pictures and video that he made during the creation and it was shown in the autumn of 2012.
In the autumn of 2016, he decorated one of the rooms at the Scandic Hotel Kurfurstendam in Berlin as one of fifteen Swedish street artists during their project #artstayhere.
In the winter of 2017, Olabo together with Akay will participate in the international street art exhibition Magic City – The art of the street, which takes place at Magasin 9 in Stockholm’s Frihamn.
Akay is one of the first Swedish graffiti-influenced street artists, and has received international attention.
When he quit graffiti, he started his street art project Akayism. In the Akayism project he has created art installations in all kinds of formats and sizes that have been seen in all corners of the world. Some of the installations have been co-made with other famous street artists.
Klisterpeter (Swedish for Glue-Peter) known for his deer-stickers and urban bird nesting boxes, has co-made many of Akay’s installations. They sometimes call themselves the Barsky Brothers.
ABOUT the exhibition
What makes something a valuable commodity and when is it garbage? Items on store shelves are precious enough to protect with security guards, surveillance cameras, special mirrors and alarm systems. But when food products pass the sell-by date, they end up in the dumpster. Unsold fast fashion garments are sent to a landfill after the trend ends. All the materials and resources and labor that went into their creation is, with one decisive action, suddenly made worthless. What is that moment? When does a must-have product of a multibillion dollar industry transform into literal trash?
And on the other hand, what is the alchemy that can transform discarded tarps and leftover cargo straps into art? Akay and Olabo have rescued refuse from gutters and construction site dumpsters and created pieces that are not out of place on a gallery wall—beautiful and remarkable and the result of their joyful resourcefulness and trickster ethics. They’ve harvested the city for these pieces. Making sure nothing goes to waste. And, as often in their process of creating, by navigating the gaps between what’s currently socially acceptable and what’s sure to be politically necessary, they’ve widened the path some. Provided a glimpse into something that was hard to notice beyond the aisles of commodified items and mountains of waste. One possible way through this mess, forged by impulsive curiosity and a casual disregard for the economic system that extracts, consumes, discards.
ABOUT the gallery
Gallery Steinsland Berliner is a contemporary art gallery established in 2008 by Jeanette Steinsland and Jacob Kampp Berliner.