The Swedish capital celebrates art week.
Joanna Sundström, founder and director of Stockholm Art Week.
Tell me about you role at Stockholm Art Week.
I am the founder and director of Stockholm Art Week. Besides that, I run the communication agency PART Stockholm.
As a visitor, what is the best way to prepare for the week?
Definitely visiting the website and downloading the Stockholm Art Week app for information and a full calendar. And if you have time, you should read the book Seven Days in the Art World by Sarah Thornton to get a crash course in how the art scene works. I love that book!
In terms of art, how does Stockholm compare to the rest of Europe? And why is it unique?
Stockholm has a Museum of Modern Art that has a strong reputation outside Sweden’s borders. But what is unique is that the private art scene is so vivid and of top quality. Art venues like Magasin III, Fotografiska, Sven-Harrys Konstmuseum, Artipelag, and Bonniers Konsthall are all examples of private initiatives that enrich the art scene in an inconceivable way. In relation to our population, the range is amazing. There are also several galleries that are strong players in the international art scene.
Another thing to highlight is that Stockholm’s suburbs offer a high quality and wide range of art spaces, such as Tensta Konsthall, Konsthall C, Marabouparken, and more. It’s not just in the city that you can get an interesting art experience.
But still, Sweden is known more for its design, fashion designers, and music producers. The country as an art destination is yet not as popular as it should be.
How do you gauge the art interest among the people of Stockholm?
The interest is on one hand strong but on the other hand quite absent. We tend to go for safe bets, such as Cindy Sherman, Hilma af Klint, or Louise Bourgeois at the Museum of Modern Art; Helene Schjerfbeck at Waldemarsudde; or Vårsalongen, a spring exhibition, at Liljevalchs. It would be more fun if people would dare to visit exhibitions with unknown artists to a greater extent. If you pass an art gallery, take your time and enter! Fotografiska, the photography museum, has successfully attracted a new audience, and that is fantastic. I think that’s a good start, but we need to keep up the enthusiasm.
What trends do you see in the art world today?
The art scene is, of course, more international, in a large extent due to the Internet and the importance of international art fairs. Another trend during the past decades has been the increasing interest in art photography. When I worked at an auction house during my university studies, there were only a few photographs shown at the big modern and contemporary auctions. Today there are several walls, and sometimes rooms, for photography only. Another sign of the increased interest is that Fotografiska opened its doors five years ago and it still has a queue outside each weekend. Swedes (who can afford it) are very concerned about the way they look—having the right material for the kitchen interior and making sure the wine cooler has a Châteauneuf-du-Pape waiting for them for Saturday dinner when guests arrive. They also consider buying expensive furniture, like an Egg chair by Arne Jacobsen or a pair of PK chairs by Poul Kjaerholm for 100,000 SEK [around $11,000]. But on their walls there are still photos from the print shop. I think we will see a change there. The number of young collectors will increase. Art is a bit more demanding and it takes time to develop your own taste, but it’s worth it. You will have so much fun along the way.
Any tips for people who are interested in buying art in Sweden?
If you are interested in buying art, you should definitely visit Market Art Fair and PhotoMarket. They’ve gathered the galleries that you should be familiar with. Everything is for sale and the prices vary. Visiting auction houses is also a good way to see lots of art at the same time and gives you an opportunity to buy what you like, if you are a good bidder. An easy way to start collecting art is to buy editions. And you should also visit Miss Clara hotel, where the online gallery Piqmo has a pop-up gallery.
How does this year’s art week differ from previous years, and what is new and should not be missed?
This year we have four fairs that will take place during the week: the Market Art Fair; the Supermarket Art Fair; the PhotoMarket at Fotografiska, with representation from some of Europe’s most well-known art galleries; and last but not least, the Stockholm Art Book Fair. A must-see is also the auction houses that open their modern auctions. And whether you are into graffiti or not, you should visit the Spring Remake in Snösätra. More that 100 graffiti artist are going to participate in an open performance remaking a graffiti wall.
There are also many events that take place behind closed doors and are by invitation only. That is something that is needed to attract the initiated within art. This year there are a lot of VIP happenings going on. In the app we have a hidden surprise called “Stockholm Is Your Canvas.” Download the app and find the secret art.
How does the selection process work, and what do you consider when you’re allocating your selections between Swedish and international art?
As an artist, you are welcome to participate in a fair, exhibition, or performance during the week. If you are a permanent artist on the Stockholm art scene, you have to do something outside of your ordinary program, such as a guided tour, a talk, or attend openings or a party.
What do you want to accomplish with Stockholm Art Week? Tell me about the purpose and aim.
April 14 to 19, Stockholm Art Week will be held for the third consecutive year. It is an annual event showcasing Sweden as an art destination and Stockholm as a city for art. My hope is to strengthen the image of Stockholm as an art destination through collaboration with the artists in Stockholm.
For more information, visit www.stockholmartweek.se.