Karin Keisu and Josse Thuresson

Back to Back, 2022 Karin Keisu and Josse Thuresson, Luleå Konsthall. Photographer Thomas Hämén.

Based on their own backgrounds,. Back to Back presents experiences relating to language, education, and the Swedish national state’s conceptions of normativity and the desirable citizen.

In a series of films, Karin Keisu and Josse Thuresson bring together historical experiences of two languages, Swedish Sign Language and Meänkieli, which were once deemed unfit to play a part in the development of modern Sweden. Sign language was banned in education in 1880, and students were encouraged to learn lipreading and given speech therapy instead. In the workhouses of Norrbotten, where underprivileged children were taught from 1903 to 1954, speaking Meänkieli was prohibited. This ban was part of the Swedification process initiated by the Swedish state, which was intended to shape the citizen body of the future. In both these educational systems, crafts were taught to provide the children with skills that would make them upstanding, productive citizens. As an alternative to this approach to creative work, Keisu and Thuresson have decided to show their film works within an unruly wooden installation–a sculptural body that directs the viewer’s attention to the playful, intuitive, and multilingual.


Karin Keisu from Tornedalen and Josse Thuresson from Stockholm have been working together as an artist duo since 2018. They work with text, film, performance, installation, and sculpture, and take linguistic politics, queer time, and the strength inherent to marginal positions as their subject matters.