Hanna Hellsten

Hanna Hellsten

Stockholm, Sweden

About Hanna Hellsten

Born in Stockholm, Sweden, the first photograph taken of me was by the Swedish tabloids. It was of me as a new-born baby with my parents in a hospital. At age three we moved to Los Angeles, California, where we lived for twenty-five years. My interest in the medium of video and issues surrounding identity and mimicry, I think, was ignited by the experience of having a mother that had been a TV star in Sweden (note: Margareta S portrayed the "Partaj Broad" on the Swedish variety show "Partaj" from the '60's - a take-off from the American show "Laugh-In" starring Goldie Hawn) as well as growing up with the film industry and its children next door. My painting is partly influenced by the consistent shifting of surrounding landscape throughout the years.

Winters were spent in sunny Malibu, California with its magnificent mountains and vast and glittering Pacific Ocean - both seeming to go on into eternity. Disturbing rumors about rampant serial killers feuled many scary nights with hallucinatory visions and nightmares. Charles Manson had even set up shack on the property we moved onto! And just a drive along the breezy Pacific Coast Highway was LA where the sun got harder as it hit concrete and the mesh of freeways.

Summers on the other hand were like entering a fairy tale world. They were spent with friends and relatives in Tyresö (all in the same little neighborhood) with its mysterious forests of mushrooms, berries and dirty old men that had mythical proportions in my fantasy; in beautiful Stockholm with its cramped buildings and imaginary chimney sweepers (or do they really exist?); on the west coast where my father somehow always convinced my sisters and I to sail away from the safe little islands and straight into stormy waters or the little town in "Norrland," higher north in Sweden where my mother was from. Every time I returned to one country from another, it felt and looked like I'd landed on another planet - strangely foreign in its familiarity.

When I began my Master of Fine Art studies in Film/Video and Painting at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California I could not resist the pull to do work involving my mother and what had always confounded me-the split between her public image as a T.V. star and her private self as my mother. This exploration is ongoing as well as my attempt to break free from its confines. (One especially strange encounter was sending for and finally viewing a television film called Mina Barn Eller Dina that my mother had written with her sister. It was about a husband and wife and their four year-old daughter. My mother starred in it and I was supposed to have played the little girl but was too nervous and didn't want to.)

I did a performative video installation with objects that I presented in Los Angeles, California in 1996 called House/Video Project ( which included eight separate videos and one sound piece, all looped). Invited guests were welcome to walk through my family's large home (designed by my parents and hanging over the Malibu ocean) from morning till evening during one weekend. My family was away on an excursion and I was locked in my bedroom, present yet hidden from view by the guests. The guests could wander as they wished while implicated and seduced by various overlapping female voices and moving images of the women in my family on various monitors stationed in both regular and irregular places throughout. On these monitors, my mother, my two sisters and myself performed various roles, both real and imagined stemming from the experience of growing up with my mother as her private self and her public parody of the Swedish dumb blonde sexpot for which she had become so famous. The uncanny confusion, discomfort and seductiveness I had felt growing up with my mother's and my own specular doppelganger could thus be discovered by the guests. For example, my mother's young voice in a song from an early record album emanated from an obscure laundry shaft and so seemed to come from the interior of the house's wall. While my sister Emma's innocent songbird voice from the present was tantalizing heard from a tiny video monitor situated on some cushions in our peach-colored gazebo, showing her in a vaselined soft-focus lying on an artificial bed of green with plastic flowers in her hair. (Forty-minute compilation video tape of installation is also available.)

"Perfect:" Dinner with Jo (twenty minutes) was another video piece I made in school where I concentrated on the fictive, media-created image of our family and the real-life dangers this situation could propose. My sister Josefina was the lead character in this plot playing a sixteen year-old girl who hardly touches her dinner all-the-while lost in dreams of becoming a model.

After the above work, I explored forming new characters spinning off the ones developed from working with my mother, myself and my sisters.

One work in which I was also especially


Artist-in-residence Invitational, eight months, Le Fresnoy post-graduate film school, Tourcoing, France (wrote, directed and performed with collaborator Alexis Hall on feature-length Digibeta film “You Look Better Still…”)
Master of Fine Art in Film/Video and Painting, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California, USA
Bachelor of Fine Art in Studio Art and English Literature, Pepperdine University, Malibu, California, USA; Banias, Israel; London, England and Florence, Italy
Printmaking (etching, silkscreen and lithography) and Photography, Santa Monica College, Santa Monica, California, USA
Master Classes in Painting, Keith Finch, Los Angeles, California, USA


selected television & radio

USA/Sverige mor och dotter at Tyresö Konsthall, 30-minute interview by Åke Sandin, Radio TUFF, Tyresö, Sweden
“’Trash Girl’” performance-video broadcast, ”Bellissima TV,” The Netherlands, 68 minutes
Bellissima (www.bellissima.net/live.ram), a cable TV channel in Amsterdam, 7-hour documentary on “Test Portal” exhibition and artists, Netherlands
TV Salto, AT5, Slor, Cstichting lokale om roep and Bellissima, local Amsterdam and Rotterdam TV channels, footage from “Test Portal” artists’ works shown, Netherlands
Bellissima, a cable TV channel in Amsterdam, 10-minute interview by Jeanette Groenendaal regarding collaboration on film “You Look Better Still…” at 31st International Film Festival of Rotterdam, Netherlands
La.TeVe, Swedish TV, 30-minute interview by Magnus Hagelin, Stockholm, Sweden
"Face To Face," 30-minute interview by Bruce Brady and presentation of art work, Century, Continental and Falcon Cable, Los Angeles, California, USA
P3 radio, one-hour interview by Nina Hjelmgren Stockholm, Sweden
Z TV Channel, 20-minute interview by Gabriella Goldman and large-scale drawings as backdrop, Stockholm, Sweden
KBU TV, 20-minute interview and presentation of art, Malibu, California, USA

selected publications

“Kluvna Identiter,” (“Dual Identities”), Märta Appelqvist, Mitt I Tyresö, Tyresö, Sweden
“Mor och Dotter på konsthallen,” (“Mother and Daughter at the Konsthall”), Kalle Strokirk, Vi I Tyresö, Tyresö, Sweden
Daily newspapers and art magazines regarding “Test Portal” exhibition and artists, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Filmfestivals.com, interview by Robin Gatto regarding “You Look Better Still…” at 31st International Film Festival of Rotterdam, Netherlands, February
“De Persoonlijke Schaamte Voorbij,” (“Beyond Personal Shame”), Sandy Bridges writes review on “You Look Better Still…” at 31st International Film Festival of Rotterdam, Netherlands, The Daily Tiger
“You Look Better Still…,” catalogue essay written by Jason Bair, Panorama 2, Le Fesnoy, Tourcoing, France
Hanna Mikulic Gränser: The Transformer, artist catalogue, essays by Björn Wetterling, Mark Breitenberg and Sarah Gavlak, produced by Paradiset DDB, printed by HA Reklamtryck, Stockholm, 30 pp.
"Pick of the Week-Los Angeles Juried Exhibition," Peter Frank, LA Weekly, Los Angeles, California, USA
"Flights of Fantasy," Malibu Times, Malibu, California, USA
"Mother and Daughter Share the Same Artistic Interests," Bruce Brady, Surfside News, Malibu, California, USA
"Mother and Daughter Make Art in Malibu," Nina Hjelmgren, The New Vestkusten, California, USA

selected related experience/published writing

Art director, Wrap Zone, Orminge, Sweden
Written and illustrated childrens books Batdog: It’s a Dog’s World and Tabathas Goodnight Story and large painting project for exhibitions with my two daughters
Teaching work, translation work and voice and acting in short films and documentaries, Stockholm, Sweden
Two large-scale drawings used for symbolic backdrop imagery in feature film “Eldsjälen,” written and directed by Mattias Löw, Stockholm, Sweden
Assistant to artist Lita Albuquerque, Venice, California, USA
“Let’s Turn the Tables…,” short story for Jailbabes, a Larry Flynt Publication, Los Angeles, California, USA
“Sweet Alyssum and Red Diamonds,” short story published in ASTEROID IMPAIRED (RIGHTEOUS AMERICAN FICTION: VOLUME 1), organized by Benjamin Weissman, Pasadena, California,USA
Organizer for Chance 3 Days in the Desert, starring philosopher/writer Jean Baudrillard and writer/performer Allucquère Rosanne Stone, Art Center and the French Cultural Service, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
Assistantships to artist Mike Kelley and Jill Poyourow, writers Amy Gerstler, Diedrich Diedrichsen and BettyAnn Kevles, Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California, USA
Assistant to artist Robert Millar, Orange County SR91 Freeway, Los Angeles, California, USA
Producer/curator for site-specific/multi-media art event "Flights of Fantasy," Cocteau Cross Creek Productions, Malibu, California, USA
Assistant to producer Peter Nelson and research work for "Superstar: The Life and Times of Andy Warhol," featured documentary, Los Angeles, California, USA
Archaeological dig, Banias, Israel, 5 weeks


Association Francaise pour l’Action Artistique, France
Le Fresnoy, Studio National des Arts Contemporains, Tourcoing, France
Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, California, USA


selected solo exhibitions/performance/installations

Plastic Oceans, Plastic Storm, paintings, video projection installation, sculptures, Passagen, Linköpings Art Gallery, chief curator Lars-Ove Östensson, Linköping, Sweden
USA/Sverige, mor och dotter, paintings, masks, sculptures and video projection installation, curator Charlotte Gyllner of Tyresö Art Gallery and Ebba Stridh of Tyresö Art Organization, Tyresö Art Gallery, Sweden
Queen Bee, paintings and video installation, Münchensalen, Münchenbryggeriet, Stockholm
Kerstin, bride, painting installation, Nada Bar, curated by Jakob Landelius and Josefina H of Bazoueira, Stockholm
video installation, Köket, Escapade Club, curator Ebba Setterblad of Wetterling Gallery, Stockholm
Gränser: The Transformer, 3 rooms: paintings, video projection installation and sculpture installation, Wetterling Gallery, Stockholm
my mom, poster installation on streets of Stockholm
Ssshhh…mamma sover! video, sound and sculpture installation, Robert Almströmsgatan 9 (private showing), Stockholm
Tyst! Mormor vaknar! video, sound and sculpture installation, Hjortronvägen 20 (private showing), Tyresö
Min Dotter/Min Syster, C3L Centrum för Livslångt Lärande, Tyresö
Margareta Sjödin/ in my mother/my work/family work, 2 rooms: video projection installation and mixed media installation, M.F.A. graduating show, Art Center College of Design graduate exhibition space, Pasadena, California, USA
House/Video Project, installation and performance weekend, The H Residence (private showing), Malibu, California
Mother/Daughter, Nordic Heritage Museum, Seattle, Washington, USA
Mor och Dotter, Swedish American Museum Center, Chicago, USA

selected group exhibitions/screenings

Photograph included in Nature Collection, http://www.peecho.com/sps/14167994
#Art Takes Miami, paintings and photographs, SCOPE Miami Beach 2013, South Beach, Miami
Pumelo Independent Film Festival & the Enoma Mumbai International Film Festival, “You Look Better Still…” invited and screened at both festivals, Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay), India
Läkare utan gränser, auction arranged by Bukowski’s Auction House, KG Nilson and photographer Ewa Rudling, Konstnärshuset, Stockholm
Test Portal, 10-day performance and installation of “Trash Girl,” Docklands Hall, curator/artist Patricia de Ruijter, Amsterdam, Holland
Stockholm stad 750 år, donation of a Dalahäst (painted with artist Margareta Sjödin) to Stockholm by SWEA, standing outside City Hall, Stockholm
31stInternational Film Festival of Rotterdam, “You Look Better Still…” invited and screened two days, Rotterdam, Netherlands
Sveriges Allmäna Konstförening, Årets Vinstutställning, Konstakademiens salar, Stockholm
Panorama 2, ”You Look Better Still…” evening screening, Le Fresnoy, Studio National des Arts Contemporains, curated by Leonor Nuridsany, Tourcoing, France
Le Fresnoy presents…, “You Look Better Still…” screenings, shown adjunct to the Venice Art Biennale, selected by Alain Fleischer, Director of Le Fresnoy, Venice, Italy
Video Povera, Cal State LA, curator/artist Michelle Alperin, Los Angeles, California
Territorial Motif 10" x 8" x 2," Project Space, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, curator/artist Sabina Ott, Australia
THE BIG NIGHT, farewell show for writer Colin Gardner, Bradbury Building, arranged by Art Center MFA students, Los Angeles
Superintellectuals Solid Gold Easy Action, David Müller’s Three Day Weekend, arranged by writer Diedrich Diedrichsen, Los Angeles
Crackbabies Vacation, M.F.A. Gallery, Art Center College of Design, curator/artist Alexis Hall, Pasadena
Mondo Lot sine qua non, Broadway Gallery Complex, curator/artist Diana Cohen, Santa Monica, California
Los Angeles Juried Exhibition, Los Angeles, Municipal Art Gallery, curated by UCLA/Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center Director Henry Hopkins, Hollywood, California
Contemporary Artists, AMO, Amanda M Obering-Contemporary Art, Los Angeles