From Kunstnernes Hus to Malmö Konsthall

– Malmö is Sweden’s most exciting city, and the Konsthall is the country's most beautiful exhibition space, says Mats Stjernstedt who is new director of Malmö Konsthall.

Mats Stjernstedt. Foto: Kunstnernes Hus.
Mats Stjernstedt. Foto: Kunstnernes Hus.

Today it was made public that Mats Stjernstedt will be the new director of Malmö Konsthall, which has been without leadership since former director Diana Baldon resigned in May. Stjernstedt will begin his new assignment at the turn of the year, a year and a half after it became known that Baldon intended to terminate her appointment prematurely.

Stjernstedt is well known in the Nordic art world. After a decade as director of Index in Stockholm, he has since 2011 been artistic director of Kunstnernes Hus in Oslo. Stjernstedt will also curate the Nordic Pavilion in Venice 2017, and when Kunstkritikk reaches him by phone he is in Helsinki researching for the upcoming exhibition. 

Congratulations on your new appointment! How many years did you stay at Kunstnernes Hus?

I was there for six years.

How would you describe your time there?

Oslo is the greatest! It has been a marvelous time.

Malmö Konsthall.
Malmö Konsthall, exterior view.

At Kunstnernes Hus your exhibition program has been less international than most people had expected after seeing your work at Index during the early 2000’s. What are your thoughts on that?

Yes, how did that happen? I can only conclude that Oslo is an extremely interesting and intense place right now. There is good artistic presence and good energy, which has only escalated over the past years. This meant that we frequently worked with Norwegian art and the history of the building. We also found some things along the way, small gifts, unexpected projects.

And yet you choose to move to Malmö, why?

It is sad to leave, because I love Kunstnernes Hus. Yet it is thanks to my experience in Oslo that I am ready to undertake the work in Malmö. If Kunstnernes Hus is Norway’s greatest exhibition space, Malmö Konsthall is Sweden’s most beautiful. And I do believe in the exhibition as a format. But I can say that the job in Malmö is first that I have applied to during my six years in Oslo. And Kunstnernes Hus has a strong administration that makes possible the replacement of artistic direction, so there is nothing strange about this happening.

Will this be like coming home? It was in Malmö that your career as a curator started in the early 90’s.

That was over twenty years ago, and Malmö is a different city today. At Kunstnernes Hus I learned that taking a new position is like starting over. One still has one’s foundation, but shouldn’t think that one has the answer to every question.

Malmö has developed into a multicultural city that, following the refugee crisis, became a political focal point. What are your views on this?

I consider Malmö to be Sweden’s most interesting city right now, and as director of the Konsthall it will be very interesting to reflect on who lives there and who are art’s audience. And during my conversations with Malmö’s Department of Culture, I became impressed by the plans that already exist for culture in Malmö.

Malmö Konsthall.
Malmö Konsthall, interior view.