Below, find a letter from Anders Kreuger, Curator, M HKA (Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp), Exhibitions Curator at Lunds konsthall 2006–2011
Antwerp, 15 December 2015
Since its inauguration in 1957 Lunds konsthall has been a well-functioning venue for contemporary art, highly visible in Sweden and internationally, yet it is now threated with closure. The city’s politicians have called for a ‘reconstruction’. They want to ‘change and modernise activities, to suit the needs of the City of Lund today and tomorrow’. In the media, these politicians have spoken of ‘creating more interactive activities for the young’.
This is certainly not the first time Lunds konsthall is embroiled in scandal. Already the founding director, Eje Högestätt, said he needed to fight for every single exhibition. His successor, Folke Edwards, was forced to resign in 1968, after the local politicians closed the exhibition ‘Underground’ (for which Swedish artist and activist Sture Johannesson created the famous poster of a nude girl smoking something that might very well be cannabis).
For almost 60 years, the kunsthalle has been a point of contact for art and the interested public, but now this autonomous public space risks disappearing forever, if the gallery is transformed into a hub for other activities. This is the most dramatic attack against Lunds konsthall to date, but unfortunately only one of the many measures that have depleted the city’s cultural scene in the last five years.
Turning Lunds konsthall into a cultural centre, a spot for event culture, means expelling art from a beautiful space that was built to accommodate it. Contemporary art needs its own spaces for contemplation and discussion. Artists and curators continuously cross boundaries between disciplines, addressing current social and political issues. This way of working may be specific to art, but it enriches society at large – if the conditions are right.
Lund is part of a larger region, encompassing cities such as Malmö, Helsinborg, Ystad and Kristianstad in Sweden and Copenhagen and Roskilde in Denmark. This region – you may have glimpsed it on television, in popular series such as The Bridge –is home to several museums, galleries and art academies that are internationally well-known. But this cultural eco system is showing signs of stress, as regional politics is becoming ever more populist.
It is obvious that the City of Lund, as an important university city with top-notch academic research and innovative businesses, needs a wider range of cultural facilities. The fast-growing population is highly educated, and yet the cultural infrastructure does not meet current demands. Trying to squeeze all the activities considered necessary into one single institution – Lunds konsthall – is clearly not the solution.
Save Lunds konsthall as a venue for producing, exhibiting and debating challenging contemporary art! Resist the intrusion of event culture into art! Defend the kunsthalle as a credible art institution! Save the university city of Lund from erasing itself from the world map of art!
On 14 December, the Network in Support of Lunds konsthall was founded during a meeting at Skånes konstförening in Malmö. An online petition will be launched shortly. In the meantime, you can join the Facebook group ‘Stop the Closing of Lunds konsthall’. Numbers really count at this stage!
Curator, M HKA (Museum of Contemporary Art Antwerp)
Exhibitions Curator at Lunds konsthall 2006–2011