Magazine article Art Monthly

Nordicness

Magazine article Art Monthly

Nordicness

Article excerpt

I first visit Malmo's Signal Center for Samtidskonst (Centre for Contemporary Art) on a grey winter Sunday afternoon. Wandering through the port city's empty streets, I make my way up a steel staircase on the back of an industrial unit. Inside, the scene is far different: the expansive space is filled with Swedes dressed in 1950s rock 'n' roll garb, swinging to the music, while another partitioned space offers up a smorgasbord buffet for diners and dancers alike. Stylish Swedes mill about chatting quietly in small groups. To the right of the entrance is Signal.

Operating since 1998, Signal has run a busy programme of exhibitions, talks, film screenings and performances, working with Malmo-based artists as well as international players like Camille Henrot (Reviews AM375), Hito Steyerl (Interview AM375) and Adam Chodzko (Interview AM318). It joined up with the bar/restaurant two years ago, but rather than overwhelm the exhibition space with drunken revellers or dancers, it has been beneficial, says co-founder Elena Tzotzi, because 'it brings in many people who would not otherwise visit a gallery, and lets us find an audience without hunting them down. The anomaly of Signal is that it allows us to create the way we conduct ourselves, to create the art that we want.' In terms of local, recent art-world history, Tzotzi places Signal somewhere after Malmo's 1980s boom and subsequent 1990s dip. When Malmo's art academy was founded in 1995, as a young institution it pushed at the status quo, questioned how art was made and what was expected from it. Also, from 2000 to 2005, Charles Esche worked at Rooseum (Centre for Contemporary Art, founded by the Swedish financier and art collector Fredrik Roos)--an experimental and exciting time that included failures but also some important successes. That period helped establish Malmo's international profile, but then the city cut a lot of funding. That is the recurring problem here: 'not trusting in what you have.' Another dynamic for Tzotzi is Malmo's direction and focus: 'I think we feel closer to Copenhagen than Stockholm, we know that there's all the country and the capital in the north but we're looking southwards.'

As well as being an important public institution, Malmo's branch of Sweden's Moderna Museet (which took over the Rooseum's premises after it closed) run by John Peter Nilsson is also a direct link to distant Stockholm, with the original Museet run by Daniel Birnbaum and Ann-Sofi Noring. Museet's large collection carries a lot of heft, but for the incoming Malmo Konsthall director Diana Baldon, her new non-collecting institution is one of the most important in Sweden: 'for me Malmo Konsthall is working at the same, international level.' Baldon is fresh from a year-and-a-half at Stockholm's Index institution, but is still something of an outsider, being Italian-born and having spent years working as a curator out of London and Vienna. Up until early 2013, Malmo Konsthall was run by Jacob Fabricius, a Dane who has now returned over the 0resund as director of Copenhagen's Kunsthal Charlottenborg. But there was an awkward year-long wait for the Konsthal's board to figure out whom they wanted as director. 'It got down to me and another guy,' says Baldon, then they added two more prospective candidates: 'At that point I started asking them questions. Like, what is your take on why there's only been one female director here since 1975? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.