During summertime Stockholm traditionally have a long break from all art events. This year, the inhabitants of Stockholm probably need it as the year 2002/2003 have been incredibly busy with lots of seminars, performances and other kinds of events happening. The boom has not come from within the institutions or the commercial galleries even though the Moderna Museum has had a program that impressively enough changed every two weeks. No, the real energy has come from a quite un-established and young group of people. It seems like the Stockholm trend perhaps originates from the hype of the Bourriaud expression – relational aesthetics. This spring there has been a concentration of events like this at particularly two places: After Shopping/SAM at the Kulturhuset and Modern Talking with four different “sets” at Gallery Enkehuset.
The producer Jelena Rundqvist have during several years been working with art events and exhibitions, and her projects After Shopping and the “spin-off” SAM at Kulturhuset have engaged lots of talented people working with design, art, media, music and performance. The title After Shopping stems from the idea that visitors could come to the event just after shopping hours Saturdays as Kulturhuset is located in the shopping district of downtown Stockholm. SAM is a continued and concentrated form of After Shopping, where the invited artists/curators/magazines/musicians inhabit a small gallery space in the large building for several weeks instead of only one night. It becomes a semi-opened space, where people either exhibit or just sit and works in their “office” or “studio”.
As most artist-run galleries, Enkehuset have in the past had financial troubles. The solution has been to have people doing stuff with low/no-budget, and the springtime program Modern Talking is no exception. The three artists Hans Isaksson, Rodrigo Mallea Lira and Ylva Ogland have been working as curators as well as directors for the spring program of 2003. The program is allegedly for “contemporary
art inbetween art/architecture/design and popular culture” and have included designers making fashion design during the gallery’s opening hours, graphic designers and web designers, DJ’s, writers proclaiming texts that they produce in the gallery as a kind of performative installation (?), a record label and so on. The space is redesigned by the ultra trendy design group Uglycute (a part of the Venice Biennale, Utopia Station this year) is always stuffed with activity, and the openings are always super-crowded and continues through all night.
Both cross-fertilizing initiatives have a very laissez-faire attitude -- it is flexible and opened up to everything remotely connected to art, and it tries to widen the concept of art. That is, it is opening up to everything and everyone included in a tight group of people already within a small circuit of friends working in areas connecting to art. This is the strength of both projects, but also one of their problems. But it is surely interesting to see the projects as a strong reaction to the inflexible and rather stiff Stockholm institutions and exhibitions where few younger names get to be included.
The projects work very well as a social platform where one could meet and mingle with a good “arty” excuse. It’s always fun meeting a lot of friends and to have a drink in a relaxed environment, but of course, one has to be included in the group of friends already to feel welcomed. And after attending five, six of these interactive, performative events where anything goes, one can’t help but to wonder how these at times watered down Tiravanija-wanna-be-projects can continue without everyone becoming cheesed off with it. Everything is so “work in progress,” and sooner or later it becomes a bit exhausting, not being able to talk about the exhibition, the art or the art works. Of course a good excuse for not coming through all the way is a lack of a large budget, but even with a budget -- everyone cannot make interesting art.