Tensta konsthall is an art center dedicated to contemporary art located in the Stockholm suburb of Tensta. Northwest of the city center. Known from the outset to combine a high-profile program of international contemporary art with an ambition to be a palpable presence in the local community, it has hosted projects by artists such as Diana Thater, Shirin Neshat, Oda Projesi, International Festival, Tris Vonna-Michell, Marie-Louise Ekman and Iman Issa. In addition to that, extensive mediation programs and projects have been developed, for example “16304” which involved an exchange between high school students in Tensta and New York. Tensta konsthall’s white cube space was for a while also transformed into a “leopard cube”.
HISTORY 1998 Tensta konsthall was founded in 1998 as part of a grassroots initiative triggered by a municipal suburban regeneration scheme called Ytterstadssatsningen and in conjunction with Stockholm being the capital of culture of Europe. The vision and efforts of among others the artist, social worker and founding director Gregor Wroblewski were crucial to its establishment. Subsequent directors have been Konst2 (Rodrigo Mallea Lira, Ylva Ogland and Jelena Zetterqvist) and William Easton. Tensta konsthall is housed in a former storage space (700 m2) underneath a modest shopping mall. Since 2000 Tensta konsthall operates as a private foundation, its main funders being the city of Stockholm and the Swedish Arts Council. Due to policy changes, in the last years the konsthall has diversified its funding sources to the effect that it now relies on 50-60% regular support from public sources.
TENSTA – THE AREA, THE POPULATION AND THE ARCHITECTURE Twenty minutes on the subway from the city center, Tensta’s most tangible feature is a large, late modernist housing area, built in 1966-72 as part of the nation-wide Million Dwellings Programme. Six thousand dwellings share space with iron-age graves, rune stones, one of the Stockholm region’s oldest churches, a former military training area from the early 20th century, and a district of single-family houses built between 1910 and 1960. Today, around 19,000 people live in Tensta, of whom roughly 90% have a translocal background. Statistically the average income is lower and unemployment is higher than in the rest of Stockholm, which belongs to the most segregated cities in Europe, and Sweden. The inhabitants are also younger than the national average.
FINANCING The staff of Tensta konsthall consists of five full time positions and the yearly budget is approximately 880.000 € (2012), thanks to internal fundraising efforts which have been directed both to foundations and private supporters. However, with among other things a substantial rent the konsthall remains severely underfunded. High expectations on the program further enhance that dilemma. Nevertheless the konsthall is among the more stable entities in Tensta, which otherwise suffers from “project culture” - many activities are run on the start-stop-logic of projectification. As of late the situation can also be compared to rural areas, where shops close and other services disappear. The visitors come from near and afar alike, by 2012 comprising more than 20.000 people.
TENSTA KONSTHALL TODAY Since 2011, with the arrival of Maria Lind as director, the program of Tensta konsthall is characterized by the ambition to consciously participate in an international exchange on what contemporary art is and can be, and how to work with it. The program is art and artist-led, based on an investigative spirit. An overall concern is to stabilize Tensta konsthall and to make it agile and continuous – having since the beginning been run as a project it needs to become more of an institution. Simultaneously the aim is to mediate the program in ways which can be meaningful and relevant precisely in Tensta. This is done in a variety of ways, including a process of becoming part of the local social and economic infrastructure, to be a “local player”. Translated into day-to–day activities, this involves for instance opening a café, run by the local social company Xpandia Vision, in a neighborhood where coffee and tea are for sale in a few places but where there is no café as such. The café has also become the locus of Tea and Coffee Salons organized every three months together with Tensta Hjulsta Women’s Center. Hiring locally and buying local services form part of the same aim. Other local collaborators are Ross Tensta Gymnasium, Livstycket, the library and the Kurdish Association.
EXHIBITIONS 2011 – 2014 Since 2011, three loose thematic lines are followed in the activities of Tensta konsthall. The first one pertains to issues of articulation, the second deals with art and money and the third relates to the working conditions for artists and other cultural producers. One specific program line highlights and involves archives, libraries and collections. Almost all activities at the konsthall are made as collaborations. The art camps, organized during school holidays, are for instance made together with various artistic educations and the five-part seminar series “What does an art institution do?” (2011-2012) was the result of joint efforts with the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design. Every season has since then seen a new collaborative seminar series. Among the recent exhibitions at Tensta konsthall are “Abstract Possible: The Stockholm Synergies”, “Kami, Khokha, Bert and Ernie: World Heritage” by Hinrich Sachs, “Doing What You Want: Marie-Louise Ekman Accompanied by Sister Corita Kent, Mladen Stilinovic and Martha Wilson”, “The Society Without Qualities” (as part of “The New Model” and curated by Lars Bang Larsen), “Working With…” by Zak Kyes, “We are Continuing BBDG” by Bernd Krauss and a solo exhibition by Iman Issa. Other projects are “Bidoun Library”, “Katitzi: A Literary Character With Roots in Reality” and the one day performance “T.451” by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Ari Benjamin Meyers. Recent publications include “Contemporary Art and Its Commercial Markets; Reports on Current Conditions and Future Scenarios”, “No Is Not An Answer: On the Work of Marie-Louise Ekman” and “Undoing Property?”, all co-published with Sternberg Press, Berlin. In order to be able to learn from visual arts institutions in similar situations and thereby strengthen the konsthall, the network Cluster was formed in 2011. All participants are located in residential areas on the peripheries of major cities. They are small to medium size operations, focused on commissioning and producing contemporary art; the type of art that is produced is often experimental, process-driven and involves research; the collaborations are carried out with local agents, as well as international artists . The network has so far operated though collective physical visits to each other, namely Casco, Utrecht; CAC, Bretigny outside Paris; Les Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, Paris; The Showroom, London; CA2M Centro Dos De Mayo, Madrid; Parasite Museum of Contemporary Art, Ljubljana and the Israeli Center for Digital Art, Tel Aviv. Inspired by Cluster, in 2012 the nationwide network Klister, for small and medium-sized contemporary art institutions in Sweden, was founded. The network seeks to highlight the role of smaller contemporary art institutions in society, considering the fact that today, contemporary art constitutes a zone for experiments and discussions of increasing importance. Among the participants are Marabouparken, Sundbyberg; Botkyrka Konsthall; Borås Konstmuseum, Skövde Kulturhus and Röda sten, Gothenburg. Central are issues about economy, democracy, the audience and the ”ecosystem” of art itself. The smaller, often under-financed, institutions willingly invest in younger, less established artists and new ways of working. Klister is organizing both public and closed discussions, targeting local politicians and bureaucrats. Pooling resources and collaborating with The Swedish Travelling Exhibitions, Klister has recently commissioned a report on the conditions for its members. The current spatial configuration of Tensta konsthall, including the removal of a wall in the reception area providing the konsthall with an additional exhibition space, visible from the entrance and the café, was suggested by the architect Nikolaus Hirsch. Another space was added in 2012, through the section “space” on the design duo Metahaven’s new website for the konsthall, developed in collaboration with the curator Laurel Ptak. Metahaven are responsible for the overall communication strategy, including the use of a malleable “mark” instead of a logo.
- 1998: The art centre was founded during Stockholm City of Culture 1998. Gregor Wroblewski founder and director 1998-2003. Exhibition with Joan Miró, Elin Wikström, Stan Douglas, Carl Michael von Hausswolff, Eva Koch, Bruno Serralounge, Wolfgang Tillmans
- 1999: Exhibitions with Julian Opie, Shirin Neshat, Rupert Clamp, Jo Coupe, Jennifer Douglas, Antoinette Hächler
- 2004: The artists group Konst2 (Rodrigo Mallea Lira, Ylva Ogland and Jelena Rundqvist) appointed head. Exhibitions with Oda Projesi, Masato Kobayashi
- 2005: Exhibition space painted in Leopard pattern. Publication of The Coloring Book (based on works by Edvard Munch and Tracey Emin).
- 2006: Exhibition with Jihani Kapour, Carl Fredrik Hill. Publication of Ultra Violent Design
- 2007: Exhibitions with Jen de Nike, International Festival Opening of experimental museum shop Dark Rainbow Shop by Zandra Ahl. Exhibition Artist Clothing - fashion by 12 artists.
- 2008: William Easton (artist) appointed head. Exhibitions with Kjartan Slettemark, Rainer Ganahl, Miguel Calderón, Liam Gillick and Annika Eriksson.
- 2009: Opening of The Velvet Room forum for video, film and other time based media. Exhibition Polyglottolalia with Susan Hiller, Omer Fast, Candice Breitz, Peter Rose, Erik Bünger, summer exhibition Cut my legs off and call me shorty! with artists Susanna Hesselberg, Ulf Lundin, Emma Rendel, Ulla West, Kristoffer Zetterstrand video works curated by Gunnel Pettersson in collaboration with Film Form including Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd Solo exhibition with Tris Vonna Michell. Performance Behind The Yellow Wallpaper based on The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Publication 163 04/Venezia, New York, Paris.
- 2010: Exhibition "Rethink Kakotopia" curated by Elisabeth Delin Hansen from Nikolaj Centre of Contemporary Art in Copenhagen with Lise Autogena & Joshua Portway, Bill Burns, Haubitz + Zoche, Tue Greenfort, Tea Mäkipää, Cornelia Parker, Superflex and Fiona Tan. The Children of Ceausescu with photographs by Kent Klich and texts by Herta Müller. Opening of The Billboard a public art project for young artists and art students. World premiere of Det Hårda och det Mjuka (The Hard and the Soft) by Öyvind Fahlström written in 1953 and performed by The Alice Collective. TRIO ABC choreographed by Tanja Tuurala a reworking of Trio A by Yvonne Rainer. Exhibition "Vem vill bli slängd på tippen?" (Who wants to be thrown on the garbage dump?) by Patrick Kretschek, Erik Rosshagen and Fredrik Ehlin. Video screening Vittnesmål (Testimony) curated by Magdalena Dziurlikowska and Richard Dinter. Exhibition Berliner Geschichten (Berlin Stories):The Collective Coral Colony with Nevin Aladag, Larissa Fassler, Annika Larsson, Johannes Paul Raether and Solmaz Shahbazi, Curated by Adnan Yildiz
- 2011: Maria Lind appointed director. Exhibition Gifts of Intimacy curated by William Easton with Anastasios Logothetis, Hans Rosenström, Corinna Schnitt, Mako Ishisuka and Peter Callesen. Publication of "Gifts of Intimacy" written by William Easton Gil & Moti When Dreams come true, medverkande konstnärer: Gil & Moti samarbete med Kunsthallen Nikolaj, Bochum Art Museum, Stavanger Art Museum, Lentos Art Museum, Linz, Publikation: Gil & Moti Totally Devoted to You, Hatje Cantz. text, William Easton, Gil & Moti, Hans Günter Golinski, Elisabeth Delin Hansen, Catrin Lundqvist, Peter S. Meyer, Stella Rollig. ISBN 978-3-7757-2847-8.
- 2012:Exhibition: Abstract Possible with Doug Ashford, Claire Barclay, José León Cerrillo, Yto Barrada, Matias Faldbakken, Priscila Fernandes, Zachary Formwalt, Liam Gillick/Anton Vidokle, Goldin+Senneby, Wade Guyton, Iman Issa, Gunilla Klingberg, Dorit Margreiter, Åsa Norberg/Jennie Sundén, Mai-Thu Perret, Falke Pisano, Walid Raad, Emily Roysdon, Tommy Stöckel, Mika Tajima, Haegue Yang. Maria Lind is heavily criticised for a collaboration with Bukowskis auction house and a sponsorship deal with Lundin Oil. A site is created calling for a boycott and her resignation.
- sv.wikipedia.org, Yla Ogland
- sv.wikipedia.org, Film Form
- http://www.rethinkclimate.org/titel/titel KAKOTOPIA
- http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Children-of-Ceausescu/Heuta-Muller/e/9781884167102/ Children of Ceausescu
- [*,(in Swedish)/Boycott]
- [*, Call for resignation]
- (Swedish) DN.se, Tre Frågor till William Easton
- TomasNygren.com, Lapdogs of the Bourgeoisie at Tensta Konsthall
- Mordet på Tensta Konsthall, Ericsson, Lars O, Books-On-Demand. Sweden, ISBN 978-91-975596-0-7, ISBN 91-975596-0-1