"Untitled" (For Stockholm)


Light bulbs, porcelain light sockets, and electrical cords

12 elements, Overall dimensions vary with installation

“Untitled” (For Stockholm) is a work consisting of twelve electrical cords, on each of which are attached white porcelain sockets with light bulbs. It was conceived by Felix Gonzalez-Torres for one of his first major exhibitions in Europe, at Magasin III in Stockholm. Like other works by the artist, the installation of “Untitled” (For Stockholm) is left free at each hanging: it can vary significantly from one gallery or situation to another. The strings can meander and become tangled on the floor, hang from the ceiling, cascade down a wall. In all these configurations, the visitor can walk through the space, to wander under and around the installation, without any distancing.

Plugs, wiring, fittings, etc.—all the materials were assembled in New York and then delivered to Stockholm, where the bulbs had been sourced. In the initial installation of “Untitled” (For Stockholm), Felix Gonzalez-Torres chose to present only half of the twelve light strings. This way of recomposing the work for the space is a conceptually significant part of the work, and its configuration remains a decision the owner or exhibitor is free to make with each installation. As Gonzalez-Torres put it, “You decide how you want it done […] Have fun. Give yourself that freedom. Put my creativity into question, minimize the preciousness of the piece.”

The work constitutes a form of anti-monument, evoking the aesthetics of popular festivities, a celebration of the magic of the ephemeral and a melancholic reminiscence, both sweet and poignant, and fundamentally unstable. Life, love, and emotional ties are like these light bulbs—joyful, fragile, and evocative lights in the night—a vital thread destined to “burn out”, to be unavoidably extinguished—yet when the bulbs in this work burn out they are continually replaced, evoking ideas of the perpetual, of loss followed by renewal. Referring to a photograph of a popular Paris market that he took in 1985 on a trip to Europe with his partner Ross Laycock, the artist says: “It was so simple and so beautiful, just the way we had it in Cuba… I discovered that photo a little while ago and thought that maybe my light strings come from that, but not consciously. It must be an example of blood memory.” As Gonzalez-Torres’s inspirations and intentions are as diverse as his oeuvre, it is fitting that a speculation about an influence from Cuba comes by way of a snapshot taken in Paris many years later.

This work is presented for the first time by the Pinault Collection in the exhibition Felix Gonzalez-Torres – Roni Horn at the Bourse de Commerce, from 6 April 2022.