Paris in November

We are on a trip to Paris, it is the beginning of November 2016, and I really need a break from the wet, dark forests of Småland.

My cousin Emma lives in Paris with her husband Henrik and their children for a few years, and we visit them. Since they are there to work with French foreign affairs at the Swedish Embassy, they are really well informed about the French society, and they can also give us some really good tips about restaurants, districts etc. in Paris.

Usually I meet them in the summer, we are neighbors at our summer house, and it feels good to see them, to follow their growing kids, one more time this year.

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There are several high prestigious culture institutions in Paris – Musée du Louvre and Musée d’Orsay is probably the most well-known. Musée d’Orsay is famous for its collection of French impressionistic and post-impressionistic classics between 1850 and 1915 – works by Claude Monet, Édouard Manet, Edgar Degas, Auguste Renoir, Paul Cézanne, Paul Gaugin, and so on.

And the museum building is definitely something extra just by itself. It is an old railway station transformed into a museum in the 80’s, the huge clocks are still there, and several other structures.

Palais de Tokyo is another famous institution, but its orientation is completely different; it is a large museum dedicated to contemporary art, and it has been one of many trendsetter in the art world during the last 15 years. The building is old, from 1937, and was raised for the International Exhibition of Arts and Technology. The current art center opened in 2002, lacks permanent collection, thus it is not a museum in the traditional sense.

Right now a show by the Berlin-based artist Tino Sehgal is on display. Sehgal, born in London 1976, grew up in Düsseldorf and Paris, and has his background in dancing, which is quite obvious if you consider his works, they are based on human interaction, performance, theatre and physical movement. Usually there are no physical objects or traces in his exhibitions.

When we step in, we meet a young boy that politely shakes our hands, introduces himself and asks the question: “What does progress mean to you?” Since I am a well-behaved person, I jump into the conversation. We walk slowly forward through the exhibition halls until a girl shows up, slightly older than the boy, and she continues the conversation. After a while a grown-up man emerges, and then an older man.

In another hall, in another constructed situation, a crowd of people are singing, dancing and humming, relaxed and low-voiced. Another room is completely black, we do not see anything when we enter it, but we hear voices. After a while in the darkness, my eyes have adapted, and the silhouettes and shadows of people moving occur.

In his older works, Sehgal used to perform by himself, but today, after years of success, he hires a staff of “interpreters”. He gives them instructions, like a musical director or choreographer, in how to speak, move, and so on, and every constructed situation is an art work. If you compare his work, you will definitely find that they differ, but there is one common trait – they engage the visitor.

The works of Sehgal do not suit a theatre, they are built up on another kind of aesthetic or way of thought. And the conversations would never work in real life, since they are too artificial and designed. The situations, low in intensity, are made for the art world and belongs to the field of exhibitions.

After the exhibition, nothing is left. No documentation, no objects, nothing. If you want to buy his works, you can do it, but you will get no written contract, just a verbal agreement, and it costs you about 100 000 Euros.

A lot of sorrow

It is the season for vata. The wind is stronger, the rain is falling and it is getting darker – all of this happens inside your body and mind as well as outside, in the garden, the streets and the woods. I always have to prepare myself for the dreamy days and the mystery of life when the autumn strikes us.

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Yesterday I went to Copenhagen with some friends from Italienska palatset on a kind of study tour. The main reason was to take a look at the brand new art gallery Copenhagen Contemporary, CC, in the old harbor area close to the city center.

CC is a project for one or two years, and after that the city of Copenhagen will make an evaluation and make a decision for the future of Papirøen (The Paper Island). The start program for CC does not look particularly experimental – Ragnar KjartanssonBruce NaumanCarsten Nicolai and Yoko Ono. They are all well-established – Nauman and Yoko Ono almost legends – in the international art world.

But the result is good! (However, CC should have skipped The Wishing Tree Garden by Yoko One on the wharf outside the gallery, it does not fit and feels almost like an anachronistic gesture. And I cannot really figure out why Nauman is given such a big presentation. The only suitable reason is, as far as I can see, his position in the art history – the Nauman-hangar feels just a bit old-fashioned. Nauman is perfect for well-informed nostalgic visitors, probably men with their heydays thirty years ago.) The only Nauman-work that really works is Green Light corridor (1970), an architectural piece with green fluorescent light. And that one is certainly an experience – thanks!

The connection between Kjartansson, Nauman and Nicolai is not obvious – perhaps repetition, persistence and circularity could be considered as their common method, but that is not enough to carry a concept. I prefer to see the three huge presentations as separate exhibitions.

I got really impressed by the German Carsten Nicolai’s Unidisplay, a powerful digital installation/projection reflecting eternity. It is hypnotic, full of graphic forms and audio signals but at the same time simple, an endless archive of black and white patterns.

Ragnar Kjartansson has been one of my favorite artist in Scandinavia for many years. I remember his Scandinavian Pain-project as a kind of high-score. Words like honesty, melancholy and humor pop up in my mind while walking around in the exhibition. The work Scenes from western culture (2015) is one of the most well produced and tight installations I have ever seen: The sound is perfect, the screens are carefully positioned in right angles. It is nine screens (If I recall correctly) with a series of every­day situations, mirroring the Western life, an interpretation of a world of melancholy. It feels like traditional paintings, but without the boring burden of the tradition.

Ragnar Kjartansson, Scenes from western culture

In the other Kjartansson-work at CC, A lot of sorrow (2013),the aging rock band The Nationals plays their bittersweet song A lot of sorrow for six hours non-stop. The result is just liquid, almost divine.

Sorrow found me when I was young || Sorrow waited, sorrow won.
Cause I don’t wanna get over you. || I don’t wanna get over you.

The Nordic melancholy will always be one of my best friends, perhaps a way of living for the minds of my kind.

The present in drag

It’s July 2016, we’re having a beer with my cousin Jenny, her daughter and her husband at Dieffenbachstrasse in Kreuzberg, Berlin. She has lived in Berlin for – well I don’t really remember, but let’s say – nine or ten years. First in an unmodern apartment in Friedrichshain, then in Kreuzberg, an area highly marked by gentrification, but still not really exploited.

I’m not sure why they left Sweden for Berlin, but I guess it was for the culture. Fredrik, Jenny’s husband, has been working with music for a long time, today he’s developing software for the music production industry.

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Berlin has been a center for arts and culture in Europe during the last decades. There are several reasons to that. The cheap apartments, the cheap studios, the underground scenes, the cultural diversity, the really powerful political history, the social tensions, the young population and so on.

The city has definitely made big efforts to get rid of the associations to the historic traumas, conflicts and shames. Today the tolerant, culturally vibrating Berlin is a part of the marketing of the city. The picture of the whole Germany is a country of humanitarian, ecological, cultural and economic success. Eden.

Peter Eisenman, Denkmal für die ermordeten Juden Europas

We visit the Berlin Biennale, this year curated by DIS, a US quartet, who actually are more connected to design and fashion than art. The art world has been a bit nervous about this – will DIS produce a history-less biennale? Is this the very breakdown of the tradition? But – the answer is no. The Present in Drag is certainly a little bit off the beaten track, but most of the works could easily be interpreted within the traditional framework of contemporary art.

The curator team uses the city as a part of the exhibition. One of the venues is a former telecommunications bunker in Kreuzberg, today used for Feuerle Collection, a huge private collection: “The space marks the steady influx of collectors to Berlin—and the kinds of public-private partnerships driving its cultural economy.” Another venue is Akademie der Künste on Pariser Platz, at the same time a classic tourist trap and a spot for political, economic and national powers.

The theme of the biennale is the present. But the analysis isn’t made from the ‘outside’, no fly on the wall, because it’s just impossible, and therefore the “drag”-part of title. Our time is obviously disguised.

It is the present that is unknowable, unpredictable, and incomprehensible—forged by a persistent commitment to a set of fictions. There is nothing particularly realistic about the world today. A world in which investing in fiction is more profitable than betting on reality. It is this genre shift from sci-fi to fantasy that makes it inspiring, open, up for grabs, non-binary.

Everything is a product, entertainment and an experience at the same time. The biennale is made up of visual codes borrowed from life-style and advertising – the juice bar (Debora Delmar), the gym (Nik Kosmas), and the museum shop (TELFAR) are integrated parts of the exhibition and should be considered as art works. Huge light boxes remind of the language of commercialism, and the texts are written in a kind of marketing discourse – they are modelled on punchlines rather than coherence and fits the theme of The present in Drag. Well done.

Welcome to the post-contemporary. The future feels like the past: familiar, predictable, immutable—leaving the present with the uncertainties of the future. Is Donald Trump going to be president? Is wheat poisonous? Is Iraq a country? Is France a democracy? Do I like Shakira? Am I suffering from depression? Are we at war?

Anna Uddenberg is, as far as I can see, the only Swede among the participants. She displays several sculptures, most of them in staged “non-places”. Anonymous young females, one of them in an extreme selfie-position.

Another work with a funny touch is Camille Henrot’s Office of Unreplied Emails, in which she gives handwritten answers to automatic e-mails. The answers are overemotional and intimate and give a sharp contrast to the emails, sent by stores, activist groups and others, which Henrot previously has supported by donations or signing up. The work is a human comment to our age of rapid automatization.

Most of the artists are young, born in the 80’s or the 90’s, but there are at least one exception – Adrian Piper, born 1948. She displays some manipulated signs projected in dead-ends. It’s a kind of contradiction – “Howdy” (short for How do you do?) on no-entry signs.

What first reminds of a contemporary version of Duchamp’s Fountain, is a work by Shawn Maximo. He has refurbished one of the toilets at KW Institute for Contemporary Art and at the same time made it to an information center for the biennale. The private moments turn into the sphere of commodification.

The New York based artist Josh Kline shows the film Crying Games, which criticizes some of the leaders of the 2000s. Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and others are played by actors, but the actor’s faces are replaced by the political leader’s faces by a simple software. They are crying out: “What have I done?”, “So many people”. A kind of historical revisionism and at the same time a weapon of critic.

Halil Altindere has made the refreshing hip hop-video Homeland in collaboration with a Syrian rapper; it’s blending shots from Istanbul and Berlin as a response to migration crises.

There are definitely parts of The Present in Drag that should be criticized. Some of the works are just not enough elaborated, some of them are too traditional. (I start yawning when I see too many video installations based on the typical mix of documentary and fictional content, especially if they are discussing political issues on routine. And I fall asleep when I have to look at some organic, ‘natural’ sculptures made of ready-mades in combination with traditional techniques, particularly if the concept is weak.)

Anyway. The biennale is definitely a good experience. Although it’s full of imitations, it feels honest. The imitation is clearly the critical tool.

The 9th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art materializes the paradoxes that make up the world in 2016: the virtual as the real, nations as brands, people as data, culture as capital, wellness as politics, happiness as GDP, and so on.

On the surface

I just read the brand new dissertation Events on the surface – Shibori as knowledge-forming motion (Händelser på ytan – Shibori som kunskapande rörelse) by Thomas Laurien at HDK in Gothenburg. I know Thomas from before, we collaborated in an exhibition project last year; it was a discussion of movements in contemporary craft, which, according to me, is one of the most explorative and dynamic fields right now.

The dissertation is an exploration of the field of shibori, curating and art, written in an essay style and based on self-reflections. It’s an effective way of writing – self-revealing but disarming, far away from both the stiff, old-school academic prose and the introvert high-brew artistic research.

Some of the concepts developed in Events on the surface are really useful. One of them is the idea of resonance and wonder. According to the literary scholar Stephen Greenblatt, well-known for his research on New Historicism and Shakespeare, resonance is the object’s tendency to contextualize itself – the historic, social and cognitive background. The term wonder is the opposition, and refers to the object’s capacity to express itself, mysterious and inexplicable.

The concept of resonance is, in my view, related to extrinsic understanding, wonder to intrinsic sensitivity. According to Greenblatt, the full strength of the art work is revealed if the two components are combined, and the experience will be most powerful if wonderpresides resonance.

The step from these concepts to sensation is actually not that far. This concept is connected to the philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. When our senses distinguishes something – something we recognize as a whole within the chaos expressions that surround us – it could be called a sensation.

According to Deleuze, the creation of sensation is the very core competence of an artist. I guess you have experienced some glowing moments? A glowing moment is difficult to express in words, the language reduces or transforms the sensation. We can call these occasions or objects the pre-discursive or non-discursive experiences of life.

Events on the surface uses some other concepts invented by Deleuze and Guattari, two of them are the striated and the smooth. A striated way of thinking is captured, straight, logic – a smooth way of thinking is open, associative, nonlinear. Take a look at architecture, at exhibitions, at texts, at education, at organizations – and you will soon recognize the striated and the smooth structures.

Within thermophysics there is a principle called the law of entropy – the system is developing chaos. In a metaphorical way, this scientific law is connected to the smooth structures – the irregular patterns that fascinate and frighten us at the same time.

Wondersensation and smoothness are definitely parts of what an aesthetic experience is to me. Some certain lines of a poem, the impact of an art work, the movement of a dancer, the twist of a drama…

But there is always a risk to put too much focus on details, the glowing moment that immediately catches us. In reality there are chains, connections, contexts. And that is why the concept side-by-sideness is useful. The linguist Homi K. Bhabha, influential within post-colonial studies, has developed the concept to analyze the way parts relate to each other.

We have a tendency to view a phenomenon frontal and isolated. But in reality there are always neighbors, and the glowing moment is always a product of the relations to other parts.

Gardens by the Bay

Last week I visited a one-day conference – the annual Publika parker och trädgårdar (Public parks and gardens) in Helsingborg in company with two landscape architects and colleagues from Växjö, Ida and Marielle. The theme of this year’s conference is Interactive parks and spaces, and the focus on interaction reflects a strong movement of today – participation and dialogue – which permeates public gardening, city planning, public art etc. in many projects in Sweden and abroad.

Olof Wiese works with interactive design and is part of the creative company Utskottet in Malmö. Their passion is to get people to enjoy parks and public spaces, and their tool is playful, user-friendly installations. Olof gives a summary of some of the projects, most of them temporary, and I must say they are talented – my favorites are combinations of technology and everyday activities – such as the strange symphony produced by people swinging (Ljudgungan/Soundswing).

The Copehagen-based artist Thomas Dambo creates huge installations, sculptures and workshops which highlight recycling and the value of our trash. Thomas holds a Master in Interaction Design and is also a musician (hip hop actually) with eight albums and over 500 concerts on his record (which definitely distinguishes him at this conference). He has made some great birdhouse installations, for example at Arken.

One of his big hits is Happy wall, an interactive, verbal sculpture. Another one is Remake Christmas in Copenhagen, a house and temporary workshop.

But the most audience pleasing works of Thomas is probably his Trolls.

Christina Danick, art historian, is one of the artistic leaders for Urban Arts Ruhr in Germany, an institution established when Essen was the European capital of culture in 2010. Under the motto “Urban spaces as a laboratory” artists cooperate with citizens in the region, where twenty cities create a common identity within the Emscher Landscape Park. I really like the historical background – the coal mining area, highly populated, lost its power in the 60’s and 70’s, people moved to other areas and the economy declined. After a few decades the area started its regeneration – from faded mining industries to cultural and creative industries.

Anne Beate Hovind is in charge of the art projects in the Norwegian Björkvika Utvikling, which focuses on the design of the public spaces in a new urban district in Oslo. The best part of her presentation deals with the work Future libraries by Katie Paterson. One text by 100 authors in 100 years will be kept, unread and finally published. The first one was Margaret Atwood.

Carly Lamb, which I consider as the main speaker of the day, works for the landscape architect company Grant Associates in Bath in south east England. Carly talks about visions of reconnecting people and nature, “glow moments” of surprise, and bringing in places for humans and nature in the cities.

Recently she returned to England after a seven year long session in Singapore, where she worked with the awarded-winning project Gardens by the Bay. The company won a competition about creating a park for the 21 century in the dense, high-tech city. They developed a design concept based on the orchid-flower, and the result is just amazing – huge, artificial, expensive. But is this for real, is this really to bring nature into the city?

Alfred Nerhagen is landscape architect at the Municipality of Helsingborg and project leader for a temporary activity space at Oslopiren south from the city center in the urban development project H+. Within the next ten years the pier will be used for projects co-created by citizens and the City of Helsingborg. The aim is to develop creative and interactive spaces. A grass root-project, unpredictable, spontaneous, unplanned.  It’s definitely a great initiative, all city departments are involved, and I am sure it will turn out well.

The project Pixla Piren opens in May 2016 and will never be finished. The area, about 20 000 square meters, is divided in pixels, each about 100 square meters, which people can annex and fill with life. You can use your pixel for one day or for several years, it’s up to you. And you can even apply for funding up to 10 000 crowns from the municipality. There are some other features at the pier – a maker space, an exhibition area, a street art block and some gardening.

The obvious question is of course – what will happen after the ten years of experiments? Well, Oslopiren will be colonized by high prestigious apartments with a great view over the sound and the kingdom of Denmark, I guess.

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It’s a good day. When I sum up my experiences from the gathering, some questions remain. One of the crucial questions connected to the theme has to do with the volunteers. Quite a lot of the projects need unpaid helpers. That’s common in the cultural world – think of music festivals, art projects and so on. This might be good – it reflects enthusiasm, pride and engagement? But, according to me, it does also hide something – unemployed, young or retired people are used as workers, without any payment (except a good lunch)… Is culture something you can get (almost) for free? The volunteer trend (which we sometimes call “participation” and “dialogue”) might unbalance the cultural economy – art becomes cheaper than it actually is?


Borås is the city of Pinocchio, Jims Dine’s huge work, 9 meters high and made of bronze, and several other significant sculptures. It’s a part of quite big efforts within the cultural field in the city. I don’t know if it’s a sign of prosperity, but at least attraction.

I just visited The Nordic Urban Laboratory, a conference in Borås and Gothenburg, in company with my colleague Jonna. City planners, researchers, community organizers and others take a look at alternative strategies in urban development. The main purpose is to develop a toolkit which can support municipalities and regions in their production of their own strategies. It’s overall holistic views, connecting cultural resources to certain knowledge bases.

The gathering is on high level: elaborated program, important speakers and well-produced arrangement – high class projectors, perfect microphones and rooms with delicate ventilation. (But when the slides are too perfect, I don’t really believe the speakers. I suspect they’re hiding something in the content, a lack or a crack. It’s the same feeling as when I recognize a bottle of wine with a too decorated label – is the wine missing something?)

The first two days of the conference is located at the Textile Fashion Center, rooted in the deep tradition of manufacturing and retailing of textile in the area of Borås. It’s crowded, I don’t know how many visitors, I’m sure it’s more than a hundred, and the audience is more international than I expected.

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Franco Bianchini, one of the main speakers, is specialist on cultural planning, and he delivers a brief history of the field from 1988 until today. We are dealing with times of continuous change – e.g. powerful globalization, increasing hybridity, heavy conflicts, and breakdowns of social values. It’s a comprehensive presentation, and the history is told with a refreshing distance.

One of the most cherished and effective methods used in cultural planning processes is mapping. Magnus Fredricsonpresents a really detailed mapping work in the Skaraborg region. Spots are loaded with information on a GIS-map, the map is run through an application, and the results are visualized in several diagrams. (It gives me a feeling of positivism, not too far from the architect’s Space Syntax.)

Bettina Lamm, associate professor and landscape architect, gives a view on Urban Play, a temporary cultural intervention in the public space of Søndre Havn, Køge, Denmark. Art, architecture and play has brought life into the empty harbor area.

It’s a huge difference between the projects presented by Fredricson and Lamm. The serious orientation of the mapping is really contrasting the poetic, playful attitude in Søndre Havn. Different goals, different methods and different results. The crucial question is obvious in both cases – what happened afterwards? What did the mapping lead to, substantially? What did the temporary project leave behind – except memories and documentation?

Under the headline Sustainability speaks Kenneth A BalfeltHelena Bjarnegård and Cecilia Liljedahl. Kenneth, a Danish artist, presents a project in Folkets park, Nørrebro, Copenhagen, where residents and users have been integrated in the creation and running of the process. (A small but interesting detail is the darkness in the park. Some parts are actually left without light – marijuana smokers, dealers and lovers need the shadow, I guess…)

Helena presents Frihamnen in Gothenburg, an old harbor area, close to the city center; the most well-known piece in the project is probably the sauna, made by the Berlin-based architects of Raumlabor.

Cecilia shows some green art projects; the most visually salient project is a bamboo work by the Japanese artist Tetsunori Kawana, which will be raised in the beginning of the summer 2016.

The section about Art, contains three sessions. Ari Marteinsson is part of the Danish Bureau Detours, an organization with special interest in creating social environments in public space. Invisible Playground is a German group focused on games to explore and understand the city.

Kerstin Bergendal is well known for her social and dialogue-based projects, always with a high focus on the place and the public space. Her most recognized project is probably PARK LEK, today almost considered as a model or prototype.

Every speech is an aspect of the interaction between local/societal, method/result, temporary/permanent, time-consuming/”jajamensan”-mentality and theorists/practicians.

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It’s raining in Gothenburg when I leave the conference. It’s two hours until the train departures and I decide to take a walk through the central parks and continue to Göteborgs konsthall. A great exhibition with Magnus Bärtås is on display. The rain increases and I have to take shelter at the library to finish this text.

The conference has raised several questions in my mind:

First, the popular method mapping. What should be mapped? Are the bad experiences, the conflicts, the tensions included in the mapping? In theory, every planner dedicated to the method would say yes. But when it comes to reality… And what happens to the results after the mapping process? How do we implement strategies? I’ve heard of so many mapping projects, but seen so little brave interventions…

Second, the ubiquitous tool dialogue. What is a dialogue? At first glance it has to do with mutual understanding and adding of new perspectives etc. But in reality – dialogue is also misunderstanding, indirectness, guessing, implicit contexts, friction, reading between the lines, disruptions, gestures… Without the total meaning of dialogue, the tool is, according to me, too romantic, maybe misleading, or even impossible to use.

Third, the tradition of gentrification. Planners talk about the grass-root perspective, their interest in ‘common people’. But at the same time, it’s obvious that quite a lot of the projects are ending up in gentrification – the old industrial area is transformed to an attractive hub for more or less wealthy people connected to businesses of information, technology, arts, brewery, education… The dirty, faded dwelling area, which used to house unemployed or in other ways marginalized people, gets shaped up, cultivated, attractive and – expensive…

Fourth, the issue of competence. Which competences are needed for a good cultural planning process? I’m sure, almost every municipality or region lacks knowledge within their organizations. I’ve heard so many enthusiasts, but do they have the knowledge? A planning process needs both overview and specialists, and I’m sure a lot of the projects need to step up, to go beyond the idealistic introvert reflections and backslapping. It’s time to do our homework.

Fifth, the role of the traditional institutions Public run libraries, art galleries, cultural heritage organizations and museums have been important for the cultural infrastructure during the last century. But at the same time it’s obvious that many of them are not flexible enough, regarding to for example funding, staff and buildings. Rigid artistic directors without capacity (or interest) even to listen to the competence of their staff… no, they will never be able to listen to the voices of the surrounding society and the audience, they will never be able to suck up the new movements. The temporary is the new permanent. We’re in a state of permanent transition where everything is fluent and floating. Believe me, empty echoing institutions trying to express and consolidate their power through monologues are most probably not a creative force in the negotiating about the fluid symbolic universe of the future.

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The creative city is dead. To be honest, it never was born, at least outside imagination. Nationalism, that once at least tried to keep people together, walks around like a wounded animal. And a wounded animal is dangerous. The struggle between stability and change isn’t over; all that is solid melts into air? What we need is not to build a common, monolithic history, but a discussion of the common futures, the new destinations.


Last week I visited Lessebo hand paper mill for a meeting within an art project that I’m a bit involved in during this year. It’s called Residence-in-Nature, and the overall theme is regeneration (by artists) in an area marked by post industrialism. Besides the ten artists several other professionals are engaged in the project – administrators, producers, educators.

Bildresultat för lessebo pappersbruk

Lisa Rosendahl works with a publication and a conference/seminar. One of the questions she asked us at Lessebo hand paper mill was about the role of the museum in the postindustrial society. During the shift from the agricultural/rural economy to the industrial/urban economy, quite a lot of museums got their structure and their missions (in Sweden e.g. Nordiska museetSkansenBiologiska museet). But what will happen to the museums in the shift from the industrial to the postindustrial society?

I’m sure we’re heading an overturn. Some time ago I read a text by Amelie Thamwhere she discusses audiences and institutions in the field of the arts. She refers to the works of Mark O´Neill, former director for Glasgow Arts and Museums, who in connection with a major restructuring of the museums in Glasgow has made a problematisation on how museums operates. O´Neill speaks about the elite model, the welfare model and the social justice model.

The elite model is about museums strongly anchored in the tradition: collecting of items, cataloging and production of exhibitions. They are run in a hierarchical way. The audience is never discussed and the role of the visitor is to be a receiver.

In the welfare model the elite tendencies are still alive, but at the same time you will find a higher degree of responsiveness to the audience. To some extent, a museum of this kind can run some local, interactive projects, but the core is inside the institution.

The third model focuses on social justice. It demands that the museum notices its role and its responsibility in the society. It investigates the links between the museum and the power structures of the society. The goal is to develop methods that crosses the border and tears down the barrier between the visitor and the museum.

The last model is, according to me, the next step for an updated culture institution of the postindustrial society. The masculine, non-dialogic and self-righteous methods, still used by so many artistic directors, are soon left behind. God bless.


Det är två dar till julafton, i det mjuka skenet på trottoaren utanför de gigantiska fönstren i utställningshallen ser jag en mamma med två små barn, säg tre och fem år gamla, de ser trötta ut allihop, barnen tror på tomten, mamman tror på nåt annat, kanske på ett land bortom bergen. Men ingen av dem har rätt.

Det är alltså den 22 december 2015. Klockan är sex på kvällen, och jag släcker, låser och larmar konsthallen, där jag har lagt alla dessa ljusa, grå och svarta dagar och kvällar under de senaste åren, närmare sex faktiskt. Det regnar milt mot kullerstenen och jag tittar ut över den lilla allén på esplanaden, mäter ögonblicket mot lindarnas bastanta stammar.

Nästa år ska jag vara tjänstledig från konsthallen för ett annat kulturjobb, och det suger givetvis i bröstet när jag funderar över alla människor jag mött, alla utställningar, projekt, konserter, samtal och event som jag har fått var med om. Samarbeten med konstnärer, skribenter, föreningar för nutida konstmusik, universitet, konsertföreningar, gallerier, omställningsföreningar, konsthallar, gymnasieskolor, konstrundor, teatrar, konstföreningar, handikapporganisationer, företag, DIY-nätverk, folkhögskolor och annat. Hundratals arrangemang av olika slag.

Egentligen finns det mycket kvar att göra för mig på konsthallen, men just nu, i omständigheterna, känns det ändå rätt att pröva en ny utmaning, att simma lite längre ut från land.

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Jag har hamnat i åtskilliga samtal inne i den där vita betongbyggnaden, ibland om livet och döden, ibland om livet och konsten. Ett av de ämnen som har återkommit både bland kulturarbetare och publik handlar om kulturens bredd och spets, folklighet och elitism, inkludering och exkludering. Två frågor som ställs mot varandra:

1. Hur fan kan man lägga offentliga medel på sånt som ingen begriper eller bryr sig om, som är till för kulturinternerna?
2. Hur fan kan man lägga offentliga medel på urvattnad och konventionell kvartsamatöristisk kultur som varken förnyar eller förvånar?

Nåja, kanske inte riktigt så skarpt formulerat, men du fattar…

Men för egen del ser jag egentligen inget problem i valet mellan bredd och spets. Det handlar nämligen inte om bredd eller spets, utan om att kombinera. David Karlsson skriver i En kulturutredning: pengar makt och politik (2010): ”Förmågan att uttrycka sig konstnärligt gör det mänskliga livet rikare. Det är en kulturpolitisk uppgift att se till att alla får möjlighet att söka sitt uttryck och komma i kontakt med olika konstformer. Konflikten mellan bredd och spets på kulturens område är skenbar, i själva verket är de ömsesidigt förstärkande.”

Vid sidan av de breda, sonderande perspektiven krävs utrymme för riktigt smal och krävande kultur, djupt specialiserad, som närmast påminner om grundforskning inom vetenskapen – absolut ingen omedelbar avkastning eller nytta, men samtidigt extremt värdefullt och skört, som ett lerkärl från bronsåldern i arkeologens händer. Litteraturvetaren Tomas Forser brassar på i Demokratins estetik (1999) – han noterar ett behov av en kultur som omfattar ”negation, opposition, sabotage och oförsvurenhet” mot det etablerade.

Själv tror jag alltså att höga krav på distribution och delaktighet i alla samhällsklasser, i alla regioner inte behöver klassa ut den där allra mustigaste brygden. Men allt kan inte göras på samma gång och på alla platser hela tiden.

Jämför gärna med vår tjusiga försäkring i naturen: Allemansrätten gör ju liksom inte alla till specialiserade fältbiologer, men nog ger den en och annan av oss obetalbara friheter och upplevelser.


Jag har ingen egen verkstad för tillfället. Men det är alls ingen katastrof, eftersom jag har tillgång till en KKV-verkstad i Växjö, en liten premiumpärla faktiskt. Den tillhör Italienska palatset och fungerar också som ett komplement till konstnärernas ateljéer.

Själva ateljéföreningen har runt tjugofem ateljéer för bildkonstnärer, fotografer, keramiker, glasformgivare, skribenter, musiker, designers etc. Jag känner de flesta av medlemmarna. I byggnaden finns också ett galleri, ett sällsynt vackert rum.

KKV omfattar verkstäder för trä, snickeri, glas, keramik och grafik. Jag håller såklart till i snickeriet.

Själva byggnaden är onekligen lika kraftfull som gåtfull, belägen i en park på Sigfridsområdet, den klassiska psykiatriska kliniken i Växjö. Och en hel del karaktär är bevarad även i interiörerna. Se själv – riktigt fina fönster bakom justersåg i motljus…

Justersåg i motljus

Och just den där justersågen är helt klart hjärtat i snickeriet, en Hammermaskin med en hel del möjligheter.

Maskinparken är sammantaget av modell classic – gedigen bandsåg, pelarborr och bordsfräs. I stort sett orubbliga grejer det här. (Särskilt nöjd är jag med pelarborren, golvad och stadig, surrande remdrift.)

Snickeriet består av två rum, ett större med sågar, borr, slipmaskiner och svarvar. Rikthyvel och fräs i det lilla rummet. Där har också en man som heter Nasser en egen liten hörna; han handtillverkar faktiskt ouder, päronformade korthalslutor med rötter i Mesopotamien.


På sistone har jag varit engagerad i ett konstprojekt som heter FÖTTER – rörelser genom slöjden. Eftersom jag ju är hantverksentusiast är jag såklart helsåld. Igår höll jag ett Pecha Kucha-anförande på Kulturparken Småland, där jag pratade om verb, görande, hantverk och konst. 

Jag har också författat en liten introduktionstext till utställningen; här följer den:

Hur smakar brygden av lika delar hemslöjd och samtidskonst? Frågan kröp på oss när vi på Växjö konsthall tillsammans med Monica Modig Rauden och Magnus Eriksson från Hemslöjden i Kronoberg började planera den utställning som nu har tagit plats i utställningshallen.

Hemslöjden i Kronoberg fyller hundra år, och som en del av jubileet visar Växjö konsthall utställningen FÖTTER – rörelser genom slöjden. Utställningen och dess titel är kopplad till Händer som skapar, som vår systerinstitution i Växjö, Kulturparken Småland, har visat under sommaren.

Vägen mot utställningen FÖTTER har inneburit många kreativa möten. I ett tidigt skede bidrog Helen Backlund, till vardags på Dalslands konstmuseum, med sina kunskaper, och i ett senare skede har Thomas Laurien, utställningens curator, profilerat, fördjupat och gett utställningen dess slutliga form. Thomas jobbar som frilansande designer och curator, och är även doktorand på HDK i Göteborg.

På Växjö konsthall beter vi oss undersökande i mötet med konsten, och därför kallar vi vår pedagogiska verksamhet för Konstlabb. Till varje utställning hör ett pedagogiskt program, där vi vrider och vänder på konsten i workshops, samtal och visningar. Utgångspunkten är erfarenhetspedagogisk, där våra besökares upplevelser och kunskaper är oumbärliga. Till det pedagogiska programmet under FÖTTER hör workshopen ”Precious Trash”, som leds av Johanna Törnqvist, en av utställningens konstnärer.

FÖTTER samlar konstnärer med olika inriktningar, som i utställningen tillsammans bildar formen av just en rörelse. Den drar genom fälten, nyfiket och utan åthävor. Och den låter sig inte snärjas i vare sig ett avgränsat tema, ett material eller en teknik.

När jag nu ser mig omkring i utställningsrummet upptäcker jag egentligen varken slöjd eller samtidskonst. Jag ser överhuvudtaget inte statiska objekt – jag ser handlingar. Ett rum av göranden och verb, inte av ting och substantiv. Aktivitet och förändring, trafik och process. Och bland utställningens alla verb lutar jag alltså åt att handlingarna dominerar över händelserna; i en handling tar vi själva ansvaret, i en händelse är vi offer för en omständighet.

Det jag i slutänden ser i rummet är ett slags avsiktligt görande. Den där brygden som tappades upp smakar nog snarast medvetet?