Some fifty years ago, the neighbourhood of Tensta (Stockholm) has been rolled out as part of a daring and breathtaking re-make of Swedish society. Half a century later, its prospects remain unfulfilled, and Tensta uneasily lingers in its “uncompleted” ambition. While some have written-off the neighbourhood and its original agenda of shaping modern Sweden altogether, it may be high time to attempt re-writing its future, possibly towards a horizon radically different from Tensta’s current reality, but also from the accepted views on it.
In 1967–72, Tensta was built as a late-modernist housing district. The nearly 6 thousand new apartments were part of a massive move by the governing Swedish Social Democratic Party to upgrade the nation to a more modern lifestyle (make sure everyone could have a home at a reasonable price), as well as to boost its economy through a massive investment in construction. As part of the Million Programme (“Miljonprogrammet”), actually, a bit over a million (1.006.000) were constructed in a country counting a few million inhabitants at that time – truly an impressive feat.
Together with Peter Lang, we (STEALTH.unlimuted) have set out on an exploration of this crucial part of modern Swedish history, and of what – according to Maria Lind, director of Tensta Konsthall – will be a key part of Swedish future to come. In Haunted by the Shadows of the Future, the exploration has taken two tracks: ARTEFACTS and HORIZONS.
ARTEFACTS identifies objects from the late 1960’s to late 1970’s that have a personal or familial relationship with the people and the communities who lived during this era, and that embody a specific sense of belonging, a desire of being part of the modern Swedish society taking shape at that time. The result of this collective search is an assembly of artefacts, customs and domestic tropes, intertwined with rich personal stories and discoveries. These include the briefcase of an insurance salesman, the reel-to-reel tape recorder that captured a popular talk-shows’ evening broadcasts, audio of a Somali literary exile, the early launch of plastic toys, vacation slideshows, postcard collections and super 8 films, Pop textile prints and clothing patterns, local green plantings, supermarket anti-consumer campaigns, the revolutionary “du” reform, and other contemporary references, like the feminist manifesto “Swedish Women, Swedish Men” picked up by Ana’s grandparents on a bus tour of Sweden in 1969. The City Museum’s model apartment in Tensta, located at Kämpingebacken 13, serves here as a time capsule that unfolds an entire universe behind these utmost everyday objects. Meanwhile, talks with Anna-Greta Leijon (a former Swedish social democratic politician) and Lennart Svensson (one of the oldest residents living in Tensta) took us with their first-hand experiences back to the high-days of Swedish social democracy – and to what they expect of today’s Tensta.
HORIZONS, on the other hand, attempts to re-set Tensta into probable, speculative, or perhaps rather unseemly futures in the year 2030 – a milepost according to authorities in Stockholm’s “Vision 2030 – a world class Stockholm”. Four people, from different walks of life and with different relationship to the neighbourhood – Adam Tensta (hip-hop artist, challenger of vested cultural norms and laborious creator of one’s own realities, born and based in Tensta), Dougald Hine (social thinker, writer, kickstarter of projects and organizations, recent in-wanderer to Sweden from the UK), Gunilla Lundahl (cultural journalist, writer, and editor with a long-standing commitment to urban culture and discourse since her start at newspaper The Worker in 1955), and Tor Lindstrand (architect, assistant professor at the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH-A), and a cross-disciplinary performer, editor and thinker) – have been invited to contribute with four diverging horizons of a Tensta 2030 in a collective ‘jam session’.
Will this, yet unknown Tensta be an autonomous zone, where the residents of this disregarded part of Stockholm have successfully taken their destiny into their own hands? Or will its multi-faceted society prove so vital that this “new Sweden” comes to dominate the entire country by 2030? Or will Tensta’s original but unfulfilled mission – of creating an environment that acknowledges and gives space to a fully liberated and democratic model citizen – ultimately be re-created? And what would such a citizens’ liberation and equality mean if we could live it today?
- [download ] Haunted by Shadows of the Future: ARTEFACTS (pdf)
- [team ] STEALTH.unlimited (Ana Džokić + Marc Neelen) and Peter Lang (Royal Institute of Art, Stockholm)
- [with ] ARTEFACTS: Mohammad Hossein Abbasi, James Barre, Antonie Grahamsdaughter, Barbro Gunmar, Heather Jones, Martin Hedenstrom Ljung, Adam Lundberg, Ing-Gerd Robertson, Emelie Saltas, Helene Schmitz, Gary Zhang, Adela Zyto / HORIZONS: Adam Tensta, Dougald Hine, Gunilla Lundahl and Tor Lindstrand
- [thanks to] the team of Tensta Konsthall (Fahyma Alnablsi, Emily Fahlén, Ulrika Flink, Asrin Haidari, Maria Lind, Paulina Sokolow and Hedvig Wiezell)
- [background ] Haunted by Shadows of the Future is a collaboration in the context of Tensta Museum: Reports from New Sweden (see pdf) at Tensta Konsthall and the Urban Re-Mix course at the Royal Institute of Art (KKH) in Stockholm. It has been conceived by STEALTH.unlimited (Ana Dzokic + Marc Neelen, spanning spatial practices in the fields of architecture, culture and activism) and Peter Lang (curator, writer and professor in Architecture Theory and History, Mejan Arc KKH).
- [timeline ] September 2012 – March 2014, jam session on March 30, 2014