Stjernstedt, Mats, Artforum International
"Physical Sightseeing," the first comprehensive solo museum show of Magnus Wallin's work, was an extended journey through the Swedish artist's recent activities. The sightseeing in which spectators were invited to participate took them through a series of dark rooms, each housing a computer-animated DVD projection. Exit, 1997, Physical Paradise, 1998, Limbo, 1999, and Skyline, 2000, have all appeared as individual works and in a variety of contexts but were now, for the first time, brought together to form a whole. Thus the exhibition was an opportunity to appreciate the loosely connected narrative linking the three films, an absurd progression of events that emerged more forcefully as we made our way through the museum's exhibition spaces, which had been reconfigured to draw us into the artist's highly charged imagery.
The focus of Wallin's computer animations is the human body-its vulnerability vis-a-vis its environment and its frustrating limitations. The films challenge our perception of bodies: Ideals of beauty are defined and redefined, along with their implied contrast to aberrations and handicaps. A new physique is being mapped out here. It functions (or malfunctions) quite differently from those seen, for instance, in '60s performance-oriented body art, the feminist work of the '70s, or the media-coded battleground of the '80s. In Wallin's aesthetic world our thought is directed to the perfected, heroized body, a symmetrical, well-constructed machine, and then to the very stark contrast with a more defective model: a body marked by limitations no one will acknowledge--certainly not in an age of elaborate work outs, obsessive dieting, and plastic surgery. …