Director’s statement

What can art in public spaces be, and what is Public Art Agency Sweden’s most important task today? These are questions I have discussed with co-workers, artists, and other colleagues since I began serving as director in autumn 2012.

When Public Art Agency Sweden was founded over 75 years ago the Swedish welfare state was in the process of being built and through the agency, art was given a natural role in society. Our situation is very different today, and the challenges for public spaces are significantly different as well. Contemporary art has also changed radically during this time.

Our situation is very different today

It has, like no other art form, liberated itself from materials and exhibition spaces – and expanded into many other areas. Public Art Agency Sweden finds itself in a new landscape. Producing new works in close collaboration with artists is the heart of our organisation. This is where artists, curators and urban developers explore the relationship between art in all its forms and the different dimensions of public spaces. We produce artworks, reflections and dialogues.

artworks, reflections and dialogues

Through our unique position between art and society, we can both help artists to explore new ways of working and bring art outside the art world. Allow the great potential of reflection, experience and critical constructive approaches to reach out into society and operate in new places. We want art to be able to bring meaning and bewilderment, provoke new thoughts and insights. That we can be in the centre of where the audience is, in places where daily life transpires and people move about, is something we see as a privilege, as an inspiring situation.

working closely with both international organisations and colleagues throughout Sweden

Right now we are in the process of listening and discussing, of developing new forms for temporary projects and urban development projects, as well as accessing our rich history and using it to rebuild our organisation. Our direction is clear at present, but exactly how the artworks will interact with the public spaces and exactly how artistic dimensions can be brought into urban development will be revealed in the coming year. What we know for certain is that we will be working closely with both international organisations and colleagues throughout Sweden to create the quality, vision, in-depth exploration and movement that art has the potential for when it interacts with the public space.

Magdalena Malm

Top image – Photo: Guowei Yang.