NEW SMÅLAND 2019-2020
Nya Småland investigates questions of entrepreneurship and local production, notions of emigration and immigration and the relationship between the urban and the rural. Three characteristics that describe a contemporary as well as a historical understanding of Småland: a region situated among forests and lakes of southern of Sweden. By approaching them from different angles – creating a dialogue between international contemporary art and local knowledge – we hope to re-evaluate the idea of Småland.
The program is the culmination of a three-year collaboration initiated by four art institutions (Kalmar Konstmuseum, Kulturparken Småland, Vandalorum and Växjö Konsthall), the three Småland counties (Jönköping, Kalmar, Kronoberg) and Linnæus University. We have organised conferences, seminars, residencies, workshops and international collaborations on these themes. The model supports and encourages long-term relationships while also allowing for experimentation. Many of the artists exhibiting this year have been engaged in the process since the beginning.
Throughout the project questions are addressed such as: What happens in the transition between being a place associated with the Swedish glass industry to a tourist destination? How can a region in a state of depopulation grow and expand at the same time? How did the city centre end up in the middle of a field? What is the relationship between Småland and Minnesota today? Do designers and artists truly appreciate the knowledge and potential of the local industries? Do the manufacturers know which artists and designers work in the region and understand their abilities as a driving force?
We are not claiming to have the answers to these questions. But by posing them, by approaching them from different angles, and by creating a dialogue between international Contemporary Art and local knowledge – we are getting closer to an updated image of Småland. A notion that makes visible and engages local actors and brings the role and potential of Contemporary Art in the region to the forefront.
Working outside of the dominant urban centres implies working with communities rather than big audiences. Nya Småland 2019-20 is therefore spread out in time and space, since beyond a visiting audience, we aspire to make all events accessible to those who live and work in the region. Throughout the year you can discover or re-visit the many participating venues – small and large, known and unknown – spread all over Småland. We also collaborate with external partners such as CCA Estonia, CrossSections, Iaspis, Konstfack University of Arts, Crafts and Design, FRAME Finland, The Nordic Art Association and Jan van Eyck Academie.
It is our aim that this will be the first edition of an exhibition-series in Småland every three years: A locally rooted collaborative triennial spread over time and space that focuses on and develops the processes leading up to the exhibitions as much as the events themselves.
Jonatan Habib Engqvist and Mike Bode
Artistic directors and project managers
The project is made possible by Region Jönköping County, Region Kronoberg,
Region Kalmar County and The Swedish Arts Council.