A radical shift of scenery

“A radical shift of scenery” was produced as collaborative work together with the artists Janna Holmstedt, Johan Tiren och Johan Waerndt, and RTK(Office of regional planning and urban transportation Stockholm county council).

Introduction – visual artists involved in regional planning

Ecology, culture and technology play a leading role in the re-branding of the city and the explicit search to “improve quality of life”. These are trends, challenges and areas of conflicts that many city regions face today.
This is also the case in Stockholm, Sweden, where an extensive work with a new Regional Development Plan for the Stockholm Region (RUFS 2010) is in progress. The work with RUFS 2010 involves officials, politicians, business interests, NGOs and other important regional stakeholders.
As visual artists, we have been commissioned to contribute to the process, and since November 2007 we are closely following the work at the Office of Regional Planning and Urban Transportation (RTK) in Stockholm.
The pronounced ambition for RUFS 2010 is to create “The most attractive urban region in Europe”. The Stockholm-Mälar Region is located relatively far from the European center, but yet distinctly identifies itself with the European norm, seeking to compete with other European metropolitan regions in order to reach a position on the global market – attractive to visitors, foreign investors and the so-called creative class. Different strategies are employed to “put the region on the map”. This easily gets us into questioning: What do we mean with an “attractive” society? What does it imply to create a common identity? What parts of the society and who are included in the process?
In our reflective work on the planning process, the renewal of the region’s policies and identity is critically examined. We observe a constant swing between – on one hand – satisfying demands of compatibility/flexibility – and on the other – defending a local (and implicitly deviating) profile. Furthermore we have experienced the tensions between statistics and subjective life experiences, between the need for planning and space for organic growth, and consequently between the need for community and the ideals of individual freedom.

Stockholm suburbia – 200 politicians, 30 days and a black apartment in Huddinge

After a period of research and involvement in the RUFS 2010 process, we presented the concept of a communicative platform to RTK. The aim was to offer “a radical shift of scenery” for the ones involved and the proposed platform functioned as a stage for in-depth discussions during the important period of consideration during autumn 2008. Radical in the sense that we leave the regular conference centers behind.

What can an ordinary apartment tell us about the future of this region?

The apartment and its functions can be seen as a symbol for the functions that has to collaborate in society in general. There’s a micro-macro perspective. Also the apartment as a part of a bigger system where we all are dependent and share functions. Electricity, water, sewage, garbage, telephone, television, mail etc. The local come across the global, as well as to see the apartment as an interface between the private and public sphere.

Why black?
The platform, which occupied an apartment in Huddinge center, was painted black from floor to ceiling. In this black space workshops and discussions was held, white crayons distributed. Black gives credit to “the black market” and “the black box” – i.e. a flight data recorder or the theatre space.
During thirty days in September more than 200 leading politicians and regional stakeholders were invited to the apartment for discussions and workshops elaborating the final plan. The apartment becomes a scene for performative action, and at the same time the immaterial ideological production is left as traces on the interior surface. In the beginning the black box was empty, unwritten, but during the process – a highly physical discourse – when walls, ceiling and floor is covered with notes and signs as the process goes on.

In relation to the different characteristics of the rooms we developed three different workshops in collaboration with planners from the office in different fields of expertice.
During the workshop in the appartment we also functioned as catalysts during this delicate process.