Critics’ Picks

View of “Tensta Museum: Reports from New Sweden,” 2014.


“Tensta Museum: Reports from New Sweden”

Tensta Konsthall
Taxingegränd 10 Box 4001
January 18 - May 18

Directed by Maria Lind, this dynamic project encompasses exhibitions, excursions, and lectures about the people and city of Tensta, a suburb northwest of central Stockholm. The immense program explores history and collective memory while pivoting around a seven-month exhibition cycle with a rigorous schedule of almost daily events. The current session (January 18 to May 18, 2014) sees the participation of over thirty artists—including Minouk Lim, Mila Ivanow, and Tarek Atoui—as well as architects, local collectives and associations, sociologists, cultural geographers, and academics who will discuss issues related to Tensta. Originally a farming area, today Tensta is home to nineteen thousand people, and many live in modernist apartments that were built in the late 1960s as part of a government initiative to solve the housing crisis. With this rapid growth, the identity of the suburb transformed dramatically; the project addresses the problems of a shifting collective memory and the role of cultural heritage.

The museum is a hub for fruitful dialogue. A highlight is Petra Bauer’s collaboration with the local Women’s Center of Tensta-Hjulsta (KITH), political scientist Sofia Wiberg, and architect Filippa Stålhane. Together they present eight “acts” or workshops focusing on listening as a political act and pedagogical tool. The acts thematically focus on housing, home, and living conditions. These ideas continue in the museum with the Grand Domestic Revolution’s open-source library, workshops from artist Ahmet Ögüt and the Silent University, and a lecture by Marion von Osten on her project-exhibition “In the Desert of Modernity—Colonial Planning and After.”

For the duration of the exhibition, the Konsthall has also adapted the institutional title of “Tensta Museum,” an act that critiques institutional authority while simultaneously claiming that authority for as its own. This assumed title manipulates the hierarchy of institutional rhetoric (and associated funding) and reflects a desire for Tensta and its konsthall to be valued by the state. In all, the project weaves together a compelling cartography of a new Sweden: a country beyond stereotypes, which engages with a complex political and social landscape. It manages to orchestrate audiences into meaningful encounters with the city and boldly celebrates and gives voice to the multifaceted lives of the people and communities that form this place.