Exhibition and public program

at Färgfabriken

May 5 - August 19, 2018

More about the exhibition here

In search for integration from all directions

The demographic of Sweden is pluralistic today! Having this said, the majority of Sweden’s society still needs to learn that global communities are present in this country, as well as well as re-evaluating that assimilation cannot be considered the same as integration.

This dysfunctional equation – assimilation equals integration – happens to be one of the main challenges within the cultural sector in Sweden! Sweden has a strong national identity, and history writing with deep roots in the 1800s and early 1900s nationalism. Swedish historiography is more exclusive than inclusive and Sweden's relations with the outside world is often described based on a distinct “Swedish” perspective. Swedish historiography is often pragmatic and chronological. It sees the world from the Swedish horizon, if at all including the world beyond the Swedish borders. We should strive for a greater historical consciousness; a hermeneutic and phenomenological relationship to history as well as an illustrative and complex view of the historical narratives. It is also important to connect different historical horizons and thus develop new historical narratives.

A report from the Swedish Agency for Cultural Policy Analysis from 2015 (Kultur av vem? 2015:2) confirms a reality and confronts the reality! The report confirms that the pluralistic environment within the governmental cultural institutions in Sweden has been the same since 2001 while the overall society and also other market sectors have become more and more diverse. In addition, the report confronts the reality when it states that cultural institutions are not able to represent contemporary Swedish society due to the lack of plurality within the institutions. It is a harsh statement that is immediately communicated by the title of the report; Culture by whom?

This issue requires responsibility among cultural institutions and let it be clear that Färgfabriken is indeed part of the institutionalised cultural infrastructure! Shared History is therefore also an honest attempt to approach these questions by challenging ourselves when translating it into practical terms. And yet keeping in mind the conceptual framework of developing a historical consciousness based on integration from all directions.

Although there is a will and an intention to be a real part of the dynamic demography of society and to work with newly arrived cultural workers, structures are hard to change. Not only the habitual work patterns, professional networks and “taste” of the individuals in the cultural sector, but also bureaucracy and regulations. The integration programs in Sweden are based on the labour market, with the Swedish Public Employment Service responsible for the establishment in society.

The art and culture labour markets are, as we all know, not like other sectors. For an artist, the ultimate goal of the official integration process - full time employment - is very rare, and the competition for work and commissions is extremely tough. The integration process is not adapted to  anyone who is self employed, let alone to “independent artists”. When arriving to Sweden, filling out the forms for the migration office, there are no boxes to tick for artists, as there are for other occupations. One consequence of this is that there is not even an overview of how many artists and other creative professionals arrived to Sweden, like there is for example for construction workers, doctors or teachers. It’s a waste of competence which is vital for us to analyse and navigate our present times!

There are several important initiatives and projects working with the issues, but no gathered information on for example how to employ an artist in asylum process, or how to engage someone who is in the establishment program for a temporary project. It’s up to the employer to navigate the rules and regulations within several different governmental agencies. The project Shared History gives us an opportunity to navigate and develop strategies around these issues - that are urgent for the cultural sector to stay relevant. But also to extend our experiences to the relevant agencies to affect cultural policy in the future.

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