About the 2014 Summit


“These days, it feels to me like you make a devil’s pact when you walk into this country. You hand over your passport at the check-in, you get stamped, you want to make a little money, get yourself started… but you mean to go back! Who would want to stay? Cold, wet, miserable; terrible food, dreadful newspapers – who would want to stay? In a place where you are never welcomed, only tolerated. Just tolerated. Like you are an animal finally house-trained.”

–from White Teeth, by British novelist Zadie Smith


In a collaboration between the New York City-based Creative Time and Public Art Agency Sweden, the 2014 Creative Time Summit took place in Stockholm. Summit: Stockholm—the first iteration of the annual conference to take place outside of New York—focused on expanded public practice, investigating uses and potentialities of art in the public sphere, with a focus on practices with social and political implications.


The previous year’s 2013 Creative Time Summit focused on questions of gentrification and the role of the arts, both good and bad, in the making of the new city. It galvanized difficult, complex, and intense discussion and debate on the issue of race in the creation of the contemporary city. Transpiring in Stockholm and reflecting the larger context of Europe, the 2014 Summit investigated the challenges of migration, the growth of extreme nationalism and xenophobia, the uses of the public sphere, the fluid line between surveillance and our interpersonal selves, and, finally, how these challenges are met by artists who are re-imagining the public realm.


Summit: Stockholm posed such questions as: Who is art in the public sphere for and what is it supposed to do? How does art produce debate, contribute to a sense of the civic, or perhaps, more cynically, merely perpetuate the status quo? And more generally, who is the city for and how can our public spheres and its arts work across a heterogeneous space?


With declining economies all over the continent, nationalism and xenophobia are increasingly a public reality. In recent years riots have broke out in the suburbs of large European cities including Husby outside of Stockholm– yet another indication of the growing divides in society and within the cityscape. To say the arts are effected by these conditions is obvious. The Summit discussed the role that artists can play in producing more equitable and thoughtful responses to these conditions.


In considering these concerns, Summit: Stockholm investigated the role of surveillance, not only from the scale of the inter-connected globe, but also the conflation of public and private. With whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations of spying by the NSA through its prism operating system, the concerns of privacy and the internet are more prominent than ever. The global impact of this kind of surveillance certainly brushes up against a simultaneous global fascination with self-surveillance. While in the 1990s surveillance issues focused on cameras in public spaces, the conditions of today are that of a society of people obsessed with broadcasting themselves. What are the consequences of this, with telephones and cameras both surveilling and surveilled?


Expanded public practice has the potential to re-activate the city, to suggest alternative readings of its history and context, and to add new experiences and relations to urban life. Summit: Stockholm brought together artists who perform new interpretations of the city, reclaiming and reformulating the ways we interact and experience each other and the built environment.


And finally, as always, the Summit offered an invaluable opportunity for artists from a variety of disciplines who are interested in the role of art in public life to gather, meet, discuss, debate, and make connections.


–Magdalena Malm and Nato Thompson, Co-Curators





Why Stockholm


In order to build our global community, we decided to try something completely new: taking the Summit on the road! We could not have been more excited to hit the road, landing in Stockholm, Sweden, on November 14-15! We know this leap has been significant, helping us to deepen our international connections and introducing us to new trailblazers working at the intersection of art and social justice. Provocative conversations over a communal Ethiopian feast at the Moderna Museet and a wild dance party at Studio Mossutställningar were just some of the ways Stockholm rewarded us for our decision!


What mattered most was finding a partner who shared our passion for exploring the intersection of art and social change

We have been dreaming about taking the Summit abroad since it began back in 2009, What mattered to us most when determining our first location outside of NYC was finding a partner who shared our passion for exploring the intersection of art and social change. We found this and more when we were introduced to Public Art Agency Sweden, led by Magdalena Malm, who throughout her career has shared Creative Time’s vision of pushing the boundaries of the way art is experienced in public space. Learn more about Stockholm and Public Art Agency Sweden below.


At Summit: Stockholm, as artists share their boundary-pushing work at Stockholm’s fabulous Kulturhuset, they unpacked the ways in which the financial crisis and subsequent austerity measures have radicalized segments of the population, leading to protest, activism, and a push for immigrant rights, as well as to a rise in nationalism and xenophobia. The Summit tackled these themes as they manifested not only in Europe, but also globally. Our partnership with Public Art Agency Sweden was a timely one, providing the opportunity to bring artists, activists, and politicians together to debate and propose solutions to these pressing issues.





We are so excited to partner with Public Art Agency Sweden, led by Director and Curator Magdalena Malm. Under her guidance, Public Art Agency Sweden has expanded its focus, initiating discussions about art’s role in public space through site-specific, temporary interventions and urban development projects. Projects like Loft Lift, by Simon Starling, who critiqued a new residential area in Sweden with a site-specific installation that explored the meaning of displacement, exemplify Public Art Agency Sweden’s dedication to close collaborations between artists and the communities in which they work.


Public Art Agency’s goal of enabling artistic reflection, experience, and critical constructive approaches to engaging society and operating in new places aligns closely with Creative Time’s belief that artists are able to uncover and reveal perspectives on issues in ways that are fresh and insightful, opening our eyes to new ways of looking at and understanding our world. Together we are bringing the Creative Time Summit to Stockholm to begin a global dialogue on some of the most pressing issues of our time.


Meet the Stockholm Team

Magdalena Malm Director

Amelia Lind Head of Public Relations

Lisa Rosendahl Curator

Edi Muka Curator

Anna Lindholm Communications Officer and Production Assistant

Matilda Ekström Project Coordinator





Articles we are reading about the art, politics, and other current events in and around Sweden below.

Note: Resources listed do not reflect an endorsement by Creative Time. These are presented as contextual research for participants and viewers of this year’s Summit.