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.
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.