Sunday, 8 July 2018

The Nice Galleries in Stockholm: Söder with a Map

Stockholm, Sweden, June 1st 2018 and a plethora of previous dates

So, you've arrived in Stockholm from Helsinki via a cruise boat, I presume, and want to see some art during your six hour stay? Good choice! Even if you haven't, you're well allowed to read further. Stockholm's Södermalm, south of the Old City, is a fitting destination, with all its small, mostly uncommercial, artist run galleries and otherworldly nice cafés. You know, Swedish are the world champions in nice, and Söder is the best proof. Galleries included.

A party or a bar? In Stockholm you never know.

The galleries mentioned here are not all open on everyday basis and many of them have an extended summer break. Fridays and Saturdays are the best chances to see at least some of them open. Always check from the websites if there's actually something going on if you want to be sure. Then again, having a nice cup of coffee every time a gallery isn't open is a valid option, too!

The Viking ship arrives in Stockholm at 10 a.m, but it may take some time to get out of it. That's fine, since the galleries don't open before noon anyway. Luckily, there's Fotografiska with superhuman opening times to kill the time in. Turn right from the ship and walk less than a kilometer by the shore and there you are.

Fotografiska, a multi floor exhibition space for photography, takes large clientele seriously and most of its exhibitions are quite, let's say, user friendly. There has been numerous exhibitions lately on fashion photography, for example. Which is fine. Not so fine is how they tend to be camouflaged as something they are not: high art, feminist and distinct, when in reality they're all quite the same, strictly in service of commerce and more or less misogynist. But pretty. And often including celebrities, in front or behind the camera.

On the other side of the coin there are a lot of political, equality driving and even borderline controversial exhibitions, where people are lured to with aforementioned sweet baits. I've seen some great exhibitions in Fotografiska, too! Most of the photographs exhibited are somewhat classically beautiful and technically correct, in any case, no avant garde punk-sassy underground here. The top floor café with its wonderful view over the Strömmen bay and scandicozy furniture is beautiful and technically correct as well. In a good way.

Stadsgårdshamnen 22
Sun-Wed 9–23
Thu-Sat 9–1 a.m.
Tickets: 145 / 115 kr, children under 12 free

Coffee is good, too

If you didn't have coffee at Fotografiska or want another opinion on the scenery, or are hungry already, or it's not even close to noon yet, stop next in Hermans restaurant. It opens at 11 am and by noon the buffet lunch queues are considerable. Hermans is a vegetarian / heavily vegan restaurant with a slightly mediterranean-middle-eastern touch. The cake shelf proves that vegan definitely is not a synonym of healthy. The space is like a huge summer cottage, where there's always a new terrace to be found somewhere. To get there from Fotografiska, cross the road, climb the exhausting stairs, turn to your left and enter through the garden after a few steps.

Diving is not recommended

OK, the first actual gallery should be open at noon, if the guard is on time, so it's time to move on.

ID:I is an artist run gallery with two small rooms. The running group includes 25 artist, of whom everyone is responsible for the gallery for three weeks every few years. With a wide set of curators, there are a lot of different styles and medias presented, but most of the art is quite minimalistic, subtle and somewhat conceptual. Take your time to absorb, it's worth it! Most of the exhibitions are guarded by the artists themselves, so it's easy to ask if you still don't quite get it.

ID:I Galleri
Tjärhovsgatan 19
Thu–Fri: 12–18
Sat–Sun: 12–16

Centrum för Fotografi, as the name suggests, presents photography, mostly Swedish, from both graduating students and seasoned professionals. The exhibitions are mostly contemporary photography, from a range of different genres, both single artist and group shows. The gallery is run by the Swedish photography association, which aims to educate the public as well, so they have a lot of seminars and other happenings going on, too. The space is one of the neatest and largest on the route, but still quite, well, nice.

The artist run Studio 44 shares the gallery with Centrum för Fotografi, so either one probably has something going on there. The profile of Studio 44 is pretty much same than ID:I gallery, even the number of artists running the place is the same. I've so far missed Studio 44's exhibitions, so no first hand experiences here, but it looks pretty interesting site to see mostly Swedish contemporary art of every possible media!

Tjärhovsgatan 44 / Kapsylen
Red door in the gangway
Centrum för Fotografi
Wed–Fri 12–18
Sat 12–16
Thu–Fri 12–18
Sat–Sun 12–17

Enter, works from graduating students of Mittuniversitet in CFF

In need of coffee? Right beside CFF there's a vegetarian / anarchist / berlinesque Kafé 44. I'm sure it's the nicest anarchist café ever. I mean, just how nice can an anarchist kladdkaka be?

Kafé 44 also has a tiny terrace in the backyard

Galleri Axl Sund is not really part of this tour, since it opens weekdays at 16 and you should be back in the ship by then. If you're rich enough to visit Stockholm on Saturday or Thu–Fri after 4 pm, pop in, but in other cases, just peek in from the windows. And for that, Dear Mr. Sund, would you mind leaving the lights on for the proletariat to see in properly from the dark, cold, rainy, nice street?

Galleri Axl Sund
Folkungagatan 103
Thu–Fri 16–19
Sat 13–16

Lusine Djanyan and Alexey Knedlyakovsky: Den Vita Cirkeln  

Steinsland Berliner is my favourite gallery in Stockholm. It has edgy contemporary art, as a proper edgy gallery should, but also abundance and colours – and even humor! The gallery is not afraid to exhibit controversial themes, but doesn't shy away from "old fashioned" plain old paintings exhibitions either – always well curated and displayed. The gallery is run by Jeanette Steinsland and Jacob Kampp Berliner, and with that kind of cool surnames, it would be stupid not to have a nominal gallery. The space is also super nice with large windows and a lot of day light pouring in. Well, video artists might disagree on that.

Steinsland Berliner
Bondegatan 70
Wed–Fri 12 – 17
Sat 12–16

Arvida Byström: Cherry Picking

Galleri Axel is a tiny one room gallery, dedicated to showing details of and new angles to known photographers' works as well as introducing new talents. The style of the art presented is mostly quite classical – but definitely not boring. The gallery is run by the photograph Bea Tigerhielm and it also has a fine web shop. It comes in handy, since most of the photographs can easily be imagined on a wall of a super nice cultural home that Stockholm is filled with.

Södermannagatan 16
Sat 11–17

Galleri Axel is probably the tiniest of the tour

Tegen 2 is another gallery that has escaped me, but try your luck and see if it's open. According to past exhibitions, the program seems interesting, comprising mostly of video/media art of political kind.

Tegen 2
Bjurholmsgatan 9b, inner yard (I guess)
Fri–Sun 12–17

Even if the Tegen 2 gallery is not open, the yard is worth seeing.
If you manage to sneak in.

On your way, you'll notice (if you're observant) a funny piece of public art, in Nacka's hörna (Nacka's Corner). The statue See you at the goal (1984) by Olle Aldrin was erected in honour of a Swedish football player Lennart "Nacka" Skoglund. That makes me wonder two things.

First, Sweden has kicked Finnish (among other nationalities) ass in ice hockey for thousands of years, why a statue for someone who kicked ball in the fifties, with one famous goal, and pretty much spoiled his life with alcohol? Isn't this a Finnish thing to do? Second, what's with the nicknames here? In Sweden and Swedish speaking Finland people have the most inexplicable nicknames, whose sole purpose seem to be as weird and far from the original name as possible. There's no logic whatsoever!

Nacka's famous "curling home direct from a corner" kick. I presume.

If you think you'll need some coffee, Älskade Traditioner (Beloved traditions) is handy available by the route, at Södermannagatan. They have all kinds of organic, raw, vegan and other type of good stuff on their shelves, and good coffee, too.

Candyland's ten(ish) founding members are free to invite any artist to exhibit in the gallery, without the consent of the others. So, there's no strict line in curating, apart from a theme of gentle, warm humanity, which may or may not be in my eye only. Most of the exhibitions are comprised of paintings and drawings of up and coming nordic artists, but to not give a too traditional picture here, there also has been shadow theatre, freedom training and a performance about border control in the exhibition program.

Gotlandsgatan 76
Opening times vary, usually Fri–Sun 13–16

Building up the next exhibition

Now, here's some street credibility for you: hangmenProjects gallery looks like it's an ex garage, how grunge is that? Surprisingly, the funding of the gallery is less bohemian: there's an exhibition/art producing firm backing the bills, owned by the artists that run the gallery. So, no responsibilities to funding authorities, meaning free hands. What a curatorial dream! That being said, there is no specific curatorial line, if mostly presenting works of the gallery owners and the group of artists working for the company doesn't count as one. In this case, a dash of nepotism of a professional kind is a good spice.

Ringvägen 86 
Opening times vary

Gotten so far? Now, go a few step back and to the back of the house

You probably are a bit tired already, so take a bus back to the harbour if you don't feel like walking another 2 km. You can check the timetables from, the nearest stop to the harbour is Londonviadukten with some 200 m of walking. Be sure to leave at 15:30, absolutely latest, to be in the ship in time. Earlier, if walking. And even earlier, if you like to "save" and buy your own food instead of eating in a ship restaurant.

A good, nice place for snack shopping is Urban Deli by Nytorget. My favourite there is the frozen creme caramel, which I obviously only buy to keep my other (healthy) food cold in the bag. The shelves of the small shop are filled with things you just need to taste or the world will come to a sudden end, and by the counter you'll find why it was necessary to use quotation marks in "save".

But definitely not in nice.

• Insinöörin taideopas: Tukholman galleriat (in Finnish)
• Scandinavian Traveler: Stockholm Art Gallery Guide

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