Group 2

Swedish Hearts

12.6 2004 – 15.8 2004

Stockholm

What does the Swedish identity look like today? Rather than speak of nationality as origin (natus, born) we need to regard nationality as all the experiences that can be harboured within the borders of a country. The Swedish Hearts exhibition explores the Swedish art scene, focusing on how the story of Swedish identity has been rewritten over the past five years. Swedish Hearts presents 26 artists with different backgrounds and different experiences of what it means to be Swedish.

Experiences such as being in the home guards or the revivalist movement are not unusual today as the starting point for a work of art. The fact that these phenomena were not valid in the art world before simply proves that we have narrow margins for what is considered normal. These restrictions mean that several interesting experiences remain invisible, since we choose not to talk about them. The silence is not due to censorship but stems from a vague yearning to belong.

The words of the Swedish Royal Anthem, “Ur svenska hjärtans djup en gång.” (From the depths of Swedish Hearts.) written in 1844, convey a solemn nationalism, while the TV series Svenska Hjärtan (Swedish Hearts) describes everyday middle-class life, with its dramas and intrigues. Both are based on established perceptions of Swedishness, be it the 19th century romantic or 20th century modernist kind. But don’t our Swedish hearts harbour more than that? What love, and to whom, and what can be expressed and what is hidden in the depths of our hearts?

Snezana Vucetic-Bohm portrays the dreams vs. reality of a Yugoslavian family who came to Sweden as immigrant workers in the 1970s. With his photographs of baptistries in Sweden the artist Carl Johan Erikson tells of his own upbringing in the Pentecostal Church.

All around Sweden we see artists who engage in a different aesthetic that is neither fastidious nor minimalist, for instance Valeria Montti-Colque or Dimitrios Kiriazidis. These manifestations are obviously nothing new – artists such as Anders A and Carlos Capelán have long been campaigning for a more tolerant aesthetic scene, but have not fitted into the official concept of Swedishness. The emerging discussion concerning a new perception of Swedish identity stems from the fact that experiences of Swedishness other than that of the Pripps Blå beer ads or the DIY TV show Sommartorpet (The Summer Cottage) have gained momentum, and no longer constitute mere exceptions.

On looking closer at romantic depictions of nature, such as the works of Annika von Hausswolff or Juan Pedro Fabra Guemberena, we find another story, one of violence and death. Fia Sandlund’s works demonstrate that the community of various groups relies on the exclusion of certain individuals.

More about this exhibition