Snösätra Graffiti Gallery

The first Saturday in October we went on our first excursion with the KTH Relocation; the University department who rents us our apartment and coordinates my Swedish class also promotes fun local happenings and occasionally hosts events. ”Events” is tricky during a pandemic, but they’ve had an array of outdoor hikes, forest tours with an experienced mushroom guide, and some outdoor museums. This week it was the Snösätra outdoor urban art/street art installation.

Very life-like metallic balloon wings from the artist HUGE

We got an interpretive tour from Junior, one of the directors of the Snösätra Artists Collective that helps organize and allocate space in the gallery. The ‘gallery’ is a former industrial area that was abandoned and lent itself well to graffiti, providing large surfaces in a maze of old industrial buildings. Friction arises now that developers are looking to come in and knock down all the old industrial buildings and build a bunch of condos. Injunctions to prevent the demolition are currently before the courts.

True story, in a recognizable street art style

The tour gave an idea of the history of street art, drawing from roots in New York, LA, Miami, and European cities as well. Springing from hardscrabble roots, street art and graffiti has been on the fringes of the art world for most of it’s young life; as a sub-culture it has its heroes and role models and young upstarts. I was surprised at the conventions and ethics within the community, as well as the rifts that arose with the arrival of new artists taking a different approach. For example, old school stylized text graffiti with shading and highlights done entirely with spraypaint vs acrylic paint applied with brushes vs highly shaded ‘airbrush’ style with realistic or surrealistic subjects. There was definitely enough for multiple posts, so get ready for an Autumn peppered with urban art posts!

Much of the work contains political commentary; this one speaks to the recent spate of drive-by shootings in Sweden, where parents of the accused give long descriptions of their kids as ‘good kids, they are only children!’
This one was a favourite – one of the oldest artists in the collective is a 70-something woman named ‘Lady Lilac’. Her specialty is knitting bombs, and she makes tapestries as well as message sweaters for statues and other public monuments. This one says ‘dare to hope’, and when it got tagged Junior called her to ask if she’d like to come and repair it. She said “hell no, it is part of the streets now”. Lady Lilac is OG.

There was even a kitty at the graffiti park! He was a healthy young tom who mewoed very loud and squeezed under a corrugated metal door for pets.

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