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In the exhibition Participant Observers, Henrik Andersson completes his investigation of an area in Ursvik in northern Sundbyberg where the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), was located until 2005. Using material from, among others, the FOI art collection, the photographic collection of the Museum of Sundbyberg and the archive of the Public Art Agency Sweden, Henrik Andersson traces changes in physical as well as mental landscapes. In these times when armed conflicts seem to creep ever closer, Henrik Andersson brings to the fore FOI’s placement in Sundbyberg, its connection to the period after the Second World War and its changing social climate. In the wake of the activities of FOI, we discover art, protocols, photographs and inventories that raise questions: What role have art and artists played in the Swedish national defence? And what is the status of the Swedish peace movement today?

A wooded area the size of a small nature reserve south of Järvafältet in northern Sundbyberg, Ursvik, was until recently the location of the Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI). From 1930 onwards, a branch line of the Northern Main Line carried shipments of ammunition into a large rock shelter. The area contained shooting ranges, administration offices and depots, and, most importantly, high level research was conducted there. The research included everything from the development of Swedish nuclear weapons to medical research into surgical methods of treating crush injuries. The activities were top secret and what really went on behind the fence remains shrouded in mystery. In the early 1960s, public support for the Swedish nuclear programme waned and in 1961 the first protest march against the atomic bomb in Sweden went to Ursvik. Pictures from the march are preserved in the Museum of Sundbyberg. The Swedish Defence premises in Ursvik also housed something else, an art collection, which was primarily acquired by the Public Art Agency Sweden. An art collection at a secret location – what was it doing there?

– Henrik Andersson

The exhibition Participant Observers is a part of Henrik Andersson’s Marabouparken Lab project. These serve as local collaborative projects that link artists, local actors and common spaces in Sundbyberg with the aim of enhancing our collective memory connected to sites, and hopefully, at the same time, making the current societal development emerge in a clearer light.

Henrik Andersson (born 1973 in Gothenburg) is based in Stockholm and studied Fine Art and Curating at Konstfack, the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design, Stockholm. He has exhibited at, among others, Moderna Museet, Index and the Tirana Biennial in Albania. From 2013–2014 he worked with Asger Jorn’s photographic archive in the project Museum Jorn that was exhibited at the Baltic Art Center in Visby. He is a member of the editorial board of the journal Paletten and has previously worked as a curator at Röda Sten Konsthall and taught at the School of Photography in Gothenburg.


Everything-Can-Happen-Parade, “FÖRSTÅ GEMENSKAPENS KAPITAL”, Anna Witt, 2013. Photo: Mikaela Krestesen


Anna Witt is a German artist (b. 1981) who often works in different local contexts with performative interventions in public space involving strangers, often passers-by. The works in the exhibition Manifesto are connected to a new site-specific work that the artist has been working on in Sundbyberg during the winter. A common theme of the new work and the works in the exhibition at Marabouparken art space is that they act as playfully staged situations where people can express their ideas about society – a characteristic feature of Anna Witt’s artistic practice.

Together with the residents of Hallonbergen Anna Witt has composed a manifesto that was conveyed in a parade during the spring 2013, the so-called Everything Can Happen Parade, where the participants, using sculptural letters, will form the text as the parade moves along. Manifestoes are historically connected to a certain cultural scene or to a political agenda whereas the Hallonbergen manifesto will voice a multitude of perspectives and levels. Concrete topics in Hallonbergen, private matters and global concerns face each other and create a private but at the same universal agenda for the future.

PARK LEK is possibly the first art project in Sweden that successfully managed to challenge existing plans for re-development of a residential area, and replace it with a constructive set of counter-proposals and guidelines for how the municipality could work with urban planning in the future.

For the duration of four years, from October 2010 – till May 2014, artist Kerstin Bergendal worked together with the local community. Not only did they propose and gain support for an alternative way to densify the neighbourhoods Hallonbergen and Ör, they also managed to change the way the city thinks and acts on issues regarding urban planning. This was done through concrete work with ideas and form, combined with “administrative activism” in Sundbyberg municipal administrations and the City Council.

PARK LEK started off with an invitation from Marabouparken art centre to think and reflect on the City of Sundbyberg’s green public spaces. The result consisted, among other things, of a subjective hand-drawn map of the area of Sundbyberg, presented in an exhibition at the art centre in 2010. This marked the beginning of the project’s next phase where Kerstin Bergendal was invited by the planning department of Sundbyberg to lead a parallel dialogue process regarding the densification of the two neighbouring districts, Hallonbergen and Ör.

PARK LEK part of a research project
The second and third part of the project was realised by the artist Kerstin Bergendal in collaboration with Marabouparken art centre and Sundbyberg City Council as part of the research project  Collaboration on the Design of Public Spaces which was organised by The Public Art Council Sweden, The Swedish National Heritage Board, The National Board of Housing, and The Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design.

Completion in a bright pink room
The project’s final part, PARK LEK PARLIAMENT, materialized as a bright pink open space in Hallonbergen Shopping Centre, where discussions and workshops were conducted in full view amid the shopping centre’s other visitors. At the end of the project in May 2014, the municipal government in Sundbyberg, made the principal decision to use proposals, as well as the working methods of the PARK LEK project in their future work with the urban development.

After four years, the artistic heritage left by the PARK LEK project, to the city of Sundbyberg consists of: fifty filmed interviews with more than 140 participants (for the whole project more than 300 people participated), an accumulation of perspectives on the districts, gathered in a layered map of Hallonbergen and Ör, and a new public platform for discussion in Sundbyberg named PARK LEK PARLIAMENT.

Last but not least the artist handed over a set of guiding principles that can serve as a recipe for increasing local democracy in urban development:

Utopian thinking as planning method.

Accumulation of perspective, rather than streamlining.

The skills of life lived.

Address: Who am I talking to?

Conflicts are part of the work – and can be a good thing.

Time! Time! Time!

Read more about the project at: www.parklek.com


Kerstin Bergendal awarded Broder Ejves Scholarship 2014
Artist Kerstin Bergendal has been awarded Broder Ejves Scholarship 2014 for the PARK LEK project, where she used herself as “cross-runner” between groups of people, places, and governance models. The scholarship is awarded by Konstfrämjandet.

About the artist – Kerstin Bergendal
Kerstin Bergendal is known for large-scale interventions and participatory projects that map the participants thoughts and ideas regarding their local surroundings. Trough a structured, yet intuitive process – different groups are presented to each other in order to engage in dialogue about local urban development plans. In this way the artist, in her practice acts as a catalyst for new ways of thinking regarding urban space, design- and building processes.

Curator and artistic director, Helena Selder