Stockholm Airport Exhibition Brings Art to Weary Travelers

Stockholm Airport Exhibition Brings Art to Weary Travelers – Brief Article

Paul Michaud

STOCKHOLM–“What other art gallery in the world has the chance to attract eight million visitors over the span of a single show?” asked Thomas Adlercreutz, a young Swedish entrepreneur who came up with an idea that seemed so simple he was surprised nobody else had ever tried it before.

The idea was to take advantage of an already existing structure–in this case Stockholm’s Arlanda Airport–and tackle the challenge of bringing in works of art that would prove innovative. Indeed, the goal was to make passage through the facility much more than the simple run-through associated with most airports.

A year after his first show at the airport, Adlercreutz likes to tell listeners about the unmitigated success of his idea and show them his scrapbooks which contain no fewer than 500 articles on his “flexible art gallery”–his expression–that appeared in the major world press.

But, not one to sit on his laurels, Adlercreutz has lost no time in coming up with a second show–“Alive”–which is presently at Arlanda and runs through Nov. 30. Adlercreutz’s first exhibition–known as “The Alien Artspace”–was already was highly acclaimed by both passengers and critics. The reason, according to Adlercreutz, is that “we proved that we could be at the same time highly innovative, in exhibiting sculptures and the like which were certainly some superb examples of contemporary art, but also managed to tie in the exhibits with the airport proper.”

At the center of the first exhibition was the creation of a unique meeting point–the area where passengers, who’ve lost their way, have the chance to meet up–by the incrustation (done by artist Michkael Richter) in the airport’s floor of four magnificently large letters, BUSS–the Swedish equivalent of KISS. “People fell for the idea immediately,” said Adlercreutz, “and it became evident that what began as another simple idea that nobody else had tried turned out to be so successful that we certainly ended up raising the temperature in that particular terminal.”

An airport official commenting on the success of Adlercreutz’s exhibits, admitted that the Swedish entrepreneur’s idea has certainly managed to tie in well with the airport’s own considerations in authorizing him to mount his “shows.” The official said, “the witty installations such as `Buss’ certainly have become an important part of Arlanda’s quest for self-improvement, and its desire that the usual ordered rows of seating be replaced by friendly meeting places such as those imagined by Messrs Richter and Adlercreutz.”

Central to the “Alive” exhibition which opened June 13 is the work of 18 different artists, whose masterpieces manage to blend in much more than ever with Arlanda’s facilities. Lena Malm’s “Lucky Meadow,” for example, offers passengers the possibility of passing through hallways where thousands of clovers might provide them with some good luck–and perhaps not. As Thomas Adlercreutz noted, “if you take one four-leaf clover, which already is a symbol, in itself, of good luck, and you multiply it thousands of times–as we’ve done with our installation–doesn’t that bring you more luck than ever, or perhaps, he said ironically, does it mean no luck at all?”

Another intriguing display is called “Cordless Spanking,” by Felix Herngren, which allows passengers to listen to “private” conversations of other passengers. Said Adlercreutz: “Eavesdropping is something we are all guilty of to some degree, and Felix Herngren manages to really put us on the spot in his installation. If today we listen in on private conversations, often we end up building upon a fragment of information and providing ourselves a possible context for the little we’ve heard. Indeed, conversation exhibitionism–which is the point of Herngren’s display–offers some intriguing riddles.”

Another exhibit–this one by Ola Persson called the “Yucca investment trading plant” features a superb Yucca–quite alive–which is hooked up to a computer, and eventually to the stock exchange. As Adlercreutz put it, “this extraordinary plant, a virtual entrepreneurial shrub, buys and sells stocks according to such criteria as humidity level, stress and room temperature. Can you imagine that during the last trading period, the plant achieved a 12 percent gain and we are already forecasting that by Nov. 30 the value of its portfolio will undoubtedly have doubled or tripled.”

And then, Adlercreutz’s own personal stock is already at such a level that he’s announcing an even more spectacular exhibition for Arlanda that is to be inaugurated in December.

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