ÅMX.06 group project "Should I Stay or Should I Go? On Secondary Cities " was a four month project in association with C-SAM Center for Contemporary Art and rum46 in Århus, Denmark and Rooseum Center for Contemporary Art and Signal gallery in Malmö, Sweden. The project consisted of two reading groups, one in Århus and One in Malmö, that met biweekly to read and discuss texts relating to ideas of public and public sphere. We read texts by Jürgen Habermas, Michael Warner, Virginia Woolf, Henri Lefebvre, Alexander Kluge and Oskar Negt, among others. Our discussions were about the political, social and personal roles of cultural production. We ended the project by screening eight films related our discussions outside in a parking lot for the public in Malmö. In addition, we produced and distributed a free booklet of our research and artwork relating to the project. At the screenings, Finnish artist Piia Salmi offered a consumable piece to the public in the form of rhubarb juice made from rhubarb she collected from various public gardens in Malmö.

The films screened for the project were:

Magnus Gertten and Stefan Berg: Far till staden
Sweden 2001, 57 min

Arbetarrörelsens filmkomitté: Vi och vår stad
Sweden 1938, 10 min

Max Kestner: Blue Collar White Christmas
Denmark 2002, 80 min

Susi Pletsch: La Llave de sus Suenos
Spain/Germany 2004, 59 min

Alina Rudnitskaya: Communal Residence
Russia 2002, 13 min

Jem Cohen: Chain
USA/Germany 2004, 99 min

Alexander Kluge: The Artist in the Circus Dome: Clueless
West Germany, 99 min

Guy Debord: The Society of the Spectacle
France 1973, 88 min

My Contribution to the ÅMX.06 Booklet
HISTORY LESSON: Malmö in the late 1800s

Balthasar Münter (1837-1932) was my husband’s great grandfather. He was a Danish naval officer who became the managing director of Kockums Shipyard in Malmö (1874-83) and the Danish consulate in Malmö (1879-83).

Here are some excerpts from Balthasar Münter’s memoirs, “Nogle Erindringer,” describing his experience in Malmö in the late 1800s.


We will now take a Look at the social Conditions that we had to live under in Malmö.

I succeeded already in January 1874 in finding a House outside of the City where we resided until Autumn of the same year, when we procured a large, old Apartment on Østergatan where we stayed for 9 whole years.

We felt immediately that the short Move (from Copenhagen, red.) presented us with extremely different Conditions. And the main reason for this must be found in the fact that the Mingling of the different Classes of society, which by then was well on its way in Denmark, still had not Begun here. One felt as if one had traveled a Century back in Time.

At the Top of society in Malmö was Governor Troil, a stately and elegant Man with an extremely lovely Wife. Second to him was a General, also a very stately Man with Wife. After these came the Provincial Nobility.

As it is known, in Sweden this (provincial nobility, red.) is made up of a relatively small Number of old Families of good lineage, while the Majority have recently come into existence, in part from the Wars during Sweden’s Expansion, and in part from the so-called period of “Independence,” during which officer and other noble titles were given out Liberally without checking that these Families had the necessary Money to Maintain themselves. These Families had been recommended to apply for Careers as Officers, military as well as civil, and the Swedish Official Class, the Officers, had thereby gotten a very aristocratic Touch that prevented them from participating in ordinary middle-class Life.

On the other Side, Association with the Middle Classes to which we essentially belonged was not very Tempting--with a few honorable Exceptions. Their Interest in Life’s material Wealth was much bigger than for spiritual wealth. The type of Entertaining popular at that time—“the traveling Dinner”—was an Affair that I still think of with Horror.

These different Classes of Society met Only Twice a Year. It was at the Annual party for “Amaranthen,” a social Order founded by Gustav the Third, where the honored Citizens received an Accolade from the Governor, and at the Annual party for “Knudsgildet,” the same as we have had in Denmark.

But the Citizens of the City had no contact with the Landed Aristocracy. We were never Even invited to the home of the Director of our Company, Baron Stjernblad, who owned the beautiful Marsvinsholm and was also married to a rich Merchant’s daughter from Ystad, since the Baron preferred to return others’ Hospitality by Inviting them to a hotel in Malmö.

Malmö had very few Resources; the Proximity of the big City Copenhagen, where the inhabitants of Malmö wanted to flock, repressed it.

The City was not beautiful either, the Houses being nearly the same as those in our Provinces, Pavement and Lighting plain, and the sanitary Systems impossible. The old Malmö House sat there like a Prison; there was only one monumental Building. That was the Townhall, restored by our Architect Meldahl, with its two famous Rooms, Landstings- and Knutssalen.

The Area around Malmö had few Attractions; the nearest accessible Forest was our Dyrehave. I persuaded The United Steamship Company to allow a Steamship every Sunday for several Summers to sail directly from Malmö to Klampenborg, and it was put to good Use.

Danes were not popular at that Time in Skaane. This was because of the so-call “Pilot War,” which had just ended. It was caused by an Official at the Pilotage Authority in Malmö who had raised the natural Question of the Swedes’ Right to participate in Long-range piloting in Øresund. Since the establishment of the Øresund Tariff, our Country had maintained a fully organized Pilotage Authority, while the Swedes had only done a bit in that Direction. Now they demanded Equal Rights, since they assumed that our Alluring Danish Waters were Absolutely, exclusively Swedish. They demonstrated this with the Help of Lightships and marked the waters off with Buoys. The Danes did the same, for they were Absolutely just as much exclusively Danish waters as Swedish waters, and the Swedish Markers were on Danish Territorial Waters. The Waves of the Conflict were high and even though the Governments reached an Agreement, there was still enough Fuel amongst the People so that it was not comfortable for the Danes who lived in Sweden.

Under these unfamiliar and quite miserable Conditions, one had to establish a Life for oneself and one’s Family. It was good for us that Copenhagen was so close. My Family came to visit us regularly, and my Mother spent each Christmas with us to our great Pleasure and that of her Grandchildren. Some of our old Friends even Stuck by us.

Nogle Erindringer, Balthasar Münter, Gyldendalske Boghandel, Nordiske Forlag, København 1915, p. 73-75, translated by Suzanne Russell from Danish

Balthasar Münter is remembered for his role in helping the Japanese government build up its military power by selling it ships, canons and other naval weapons through a large Scottish armament firm, W.G. Armstrong, Mitchell & Co. Japan used this new military power to wage war against China (1894-95), and Russia (1904-05) and to annex Korea (1910). In 2006, Japanese historian Yoichi Nagashima published a book about Balthasar Münter entitled: “The Merchant of Death-- Balthasar Münter.”