The Exhibition

ARTECHOUSE, Time, Life, and Eternity, 2022. Photo: Jean-Baptiste Béranger

The exhibition Life Eternal at Liljevalchs art gallery in Stockholm brought together science, art and cultural history. It showed different approaches to eternity, explored the crucial issues of our era and offered hope for the future.

Can we outwit death? That question has been asked for as long as humans have roamed the earth, but modern research shows that the question of eternal life should be viewed not only from as a religious and philosophical matter, but also as a biological possibility.

But while we humans are developing more and more advanced methods to prolong life, for the first time in  history we ourselves have the capacity to extinguish all life on earth. Nuclear weapons are not the only threat. Our way of life is destroying the climate and diminishing the chances of future life, day by day.

The aim of the exhibition Life Eternal was to reflect on issues related to eternity, and thus also the future. It is more urgent than ever to find new ways of talking about how we should continue our journey. In these discussions, the Nobel Prize can play a key role.

Various issues were highlighted in the exhibition halls. Visitors were challenged to think about what happens as we get older and whether it is possible to stop ageing. How our lives and societies are being affected by Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology. Whether there may be a life after this one, or whether parallel worlds exist. In one of the halls, the exhibition took an in-depth look at why some people put their own lives at risk for a higher purpose.

Sculpture of a humanoid robot under construction, taken from the book 'Klara and the Sun' by 2017 Nobel Prize laureate in literature Kazuo Ishiguro. Photo: Clément Morin
The artwork Untitled (Carrier), by Jone Kvie, will be shown at the exhibition. ©Jone Kvie/BONO. Photo: A. Sune Berg.

In one of the rooms at Liljevalchs, visitors were able to sit down at the desks of some Nobel Prize laureates to learn more about their work processes and creativity. One laureate who was highlighted was Marie Curie. She succeeded in isolating pure radium that later proved capable of saving lives by means of radiation therapy to combat cancerous tumours. But radiation also posed risks. Marie Curie’s own life was ended by a blood disease that was probably caused by her work with radiation. At peace prize laureate Desmond Tutu’s desk, it was possible to listen to witnesses from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that he led after the abolition of apartheid in South Africa.

Artists Mark Dion, Niki Lindroth von Bahr and Christian Partos were commissioned to create new works for the exhibition. Oscar Nilsson also contributed a sculpture of the humanoid Josie taken from the 2021 novel ’Klara and the sun’, written by the 2017 Nobel Prize laureate in literature, Kazuo Ishiguro.

Creative partners: Sahara Widoff, Greger Ulf Nilson, Birger Lipinski, Annesofie Becker, Morten Søndergaard, Magnus af Petersens, Matilda Lindvall, Jan Gradvall, Lars Forsberg, YOKE, Transpond, Digizyme, Hangmen, Alnarp Foodtech, AI Sweden, AGoodId, Sveriges Unga Akademi.

An early X-ray picture taken by Wilhelm Röntgenof Albert von Kölliker's left hand. Photo: Public domain, Wikimedia Commons
A killer slug made by Niki Lindroth von Bahr for his stop-motion animated short film 'Something to Remember'. The slug will play a major role in the new work that the artist is creating for the exhibition. Photo: Niki Lindroth von Bahr.