Sweden is a nation with few natural resources, which is why it has always understood the value of contemporary creativity and how to invest in and wield cultural capital. With amazing public and private institutions and an art center in each city, Sweden is the dreamland of artists (until recently artists could receive a life-long financial grant from the state). One such institution, Public Art Agency Sweden, was officially born in 1937 during a time of economic growth for the country, and until recently the organization was responsible for building and displaying the state collection in governmental buildings throughout the country and in embassies abroad. The turning point was in 2012 when Magdalena Malm was appointed as the new director. Prior to that, Malm created her own organization called MAP (Mobile Art Production), which organized site-specific projects by contemporary artists in spaces not traditionally conceived for this purpose. Following the format of Creative Time in New York, MAP organized experimental projects with Swedish artists like Ylva Ogland and Jonas Dahlberg as well as international names like Fiona Tan and Phil Collins, and also programmed lectures and seminars. When Malm was appointed director of the Agency it was clear that she would turn the institution upside down in order to continue what she did with MAP. After projects with Simon Starling and Xavier Veilhan, her ambitious new project is to bring the Creative Time Summit to Stockholm on November 14 and 15. This would be in keeping with Creative Time’s recent efforts to capitalize on its brand through franchising — its project “Living as Form (The Nomadic Version)” was recently toured with the support of Independent Curators International. The focus of this year’s Summit — “gentrification and the role of the arts, both good and bad, in the making of the new city” — also seems to be a perfect fit for Public Art Agency Sweden. The partnership marks the first time that the event will be held outside New York City.
by Nicola Trezzi