With the change from David Elliott, currently running the Mori Art Center in Tokyo, to Lars Nittve, former director of Tate Modern, London, as the director of Moderna Museet/The Modern Museum of Art in Stockholm, the local art scene had high expectations for the new programme of exhibitions. His first demanding task was however to organise the move from the recently raised building designed by Rafael Moneo (completed 1998) because of severe mould problems. Now the collection is out on loan to several institutions around the country, and "Moderna" is currently lodged in a small temporary space in downtown Stockholm. Here, a project with smaller solo exhibitions with an ambitious change every other week is currently running throughout 2003.
The new space has been welcomed by most. It is flexible and fresh compared to the "old" buildings’ parquet-laid floors and weak light within the spaces. The character of the exhibition programme has however not been accelerating anyone's pulse. The choices of artists are considered to be too safe and a bit dull. Just recently, Nittve made a statement in an interview that it has become "mainstream to show young, contemporary art," and that "Sweden is discriminating against elderly artists." His wishes for the Moderna are that it be avant-garde, and in Sweden this would, according to Nittve, imply showing older and not-so-trendy artists, for instance Max Ernst. A quick poll amongst younger artists would tell quite a different story though.
Traditionally the commercial galleries have shown a younger generation of artists, but there has been little rejuvenation amongst the galleries in Stockholm lately. Tragically, one of the best galleries in town, Zinc Gallery, closed down in January 2003. Fortunately there is one new gallery on the block - ALP. The owner, Peter Bergman, is showing mainly painting, but also artists not connected with any particular medium, like the talented Peter Geschwind.
Without proper platforms for exhibiting, the younger generation of Swedish artists have for the last couple of years been migrating like lemmings to Berlin, where the rents are lower and there exists an established network of contacts within the large population of artists from the other Nordic countries already residing there. The signals sent from a large institution like Moderna are perhaps not a perfect formula for enticing the artists to return. Perhaps it is time for the Modern Museum to concentrate solely on Modern art, and to constitute a new, contemporary institution that can take care of the emerging artists that are important for the generation slightly younger than Nittve himself?
On the positive side, the privately run Magasin 3 has for a long time shown contemporary exhibitions. Earlier this year they have shown, among others, Doug Aitken, Ceal Floyer, Dan Graham and Carsten Höller. The pedantic finish of the space will surely be a perfect surrounding for a solo show with artist Aernout Mik from the Netherlands this springtime - something to look forward to indeed.