• Sweden's news in English
 
app_header_v3
Op-Ed
Banksy, you are not welcome in Stockholm!
A Banksy piece in London. File: Kenneth Lyngaas/Flickr

Banksy, you are not welcome in Stockholm!

The Local · 21 Mar 2014, 12:14

Published: 21 Mar 2014 11:57 GMT+01:00
Updated: 21 Mar 2014 12:14 GMT+01:00

Helsinki, Oslo, Copenhagen, Berlin and London. These are a few of the cities in Europe where legal graffiti walls are part of the streetscape. Banksy, one of the most famous graffiti artists in the world, just announced he would be arriving in Stockholm this weekend.

But he isn’t welcome here.

The ruling conservative majority in city hall doesn’t believe that graffiti is an art form and has banned it from the streets, galleries, and even from event posters - which means you cannot show Banksy art to promote the Banksy show... 

Banksy’s art has been sold for millions and is appreciated by people from all over the world. His work has proved that graffiti is an established and respected art form. But now when he allegedly is coming to Stockholm, his work highlights the ruling politicians’ fear and misunderstanding of street art in general and graffiti in particular.

In 2007, the City Council of Stockholm adopted a zero-tolerance policy that took aim at one single art form. The policy clearly states that the city shall not engage in or support activities that promote graffiti and other vandalism.

In practice, it put a stop to several art projects. The Stockholm City Museum had to cancel its street art tour, and schools with a culture profile in the Stockholm neighbourhoods of Bromma and Farsta had to close down their graffiti workshops.

The policy has also given the police legitimate reason to strip search young people, with simply a suspicion of them having painted on a public surface enough to see them arrested. 

Stockholm’s graffiti policy has been criticized for censoring graffiti and street art as an art form. It has been the subject of complaints to the judicial-affairs ombudsman (Justitieombudsmannen - JO) on multiple occasions. Earlier this year, the ombudsman office stated Stockholm City had violated the Swedish constitution in 2011, when local authorities went as far as to ban an advertising campaign that was promoting an exhibition on street art.

The Green Party's view is that the zero-tolerance approach to graffiti and other types of street art is highly misplaced in a modern democratic society and that it challenges freedom of speech and expression. Art is not meant to be easy but challenging to the senses. The majority view on graffiti is based on a fear of what’s challenging and difficult to control.

The conservative majority in Stockholm spreads a view on culture that forbids rather than encourages freedom of expression.

Story continues below…

Street art and legal graffiti are urban art forms that are free for all to see, and they add to public spaces in the cities. The Green Party wants to have a city where young artists are encouraged and empowered to exercise their art. We want an end to the zero-tolerance policy and to create legal graffiti walls at several different locations in the city.

In the future I hope Stockholm can say; welcome Banksy.

Mats Berglund, member of the Stockholm City Council and the Cultural Committee of the Green Party

The Local (news@thelocal.se)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Where to see the Northern Lights in Sweden
The Northern Lights pictured in Sweden on Wednesday night. Photo: Norrsken Sverige

An unusually high level of solar activity means the spectacle could be visible from rare spots in the country.

Swedish police 'in crisis' says union head
A file photo of Swedish police officers. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The creation of a new merged national police authority in Sweden has not gone well, according to the Swedish Police Union.

Nobel Prizes 2016
Nobel Literature Prize announcement delayed
Haruki Murakami (pictured) is one of the bookmakers' favourites. Photo: Bernat Armangue/AP/TT

The delay is due to 'arithmetic', an academician said.

Horny elk hold up Swedish hunt
One of the randy animals in question. Photo: Mikael Fritzon/TT

The giant things just can't contain themselves.

Sweden to ban masks but not burqas at football matches
A masked supporter at a Stockholm derby football match last year. Photo: Janerik Henriksson/TT

The ban is designed to curb violence at sporting events in Sweden, but it must also follow conventions on religious freedom.

Video
Heckler humbles Swedish golf champion with perfect putt
Henrik Stenson met his match in the final practice for the Ryder Cup. Photo: Charlie Riedel/AP/TT

Well that wasn't supposed to happen...

Presented by Invest Stockholm
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges

It’s no secret that Stockholm is serious about sustainability. We took a look at how the city's emerging startups are tackling global challenges, making the world a better place.

Warm weather melts H&M profits
An H&M store in central Stockholm. Photo: Maja Suslin/TT

A warm autumn may be good news for Swedes, but it was bad news for Sweden's biggest clothing brand.

Rail delays after heavy winds batter Sweden
The weather is expected to clear up. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Commuters were advised to take it easy in traffic on Friday, after harsh winds toppled trees across roads and railways across Sweden.

Homes
In pictures: Eight traditional Swedish tiled stoves
A tiled stove. Photo: Wrede Fastighetsmäkleri

The traditional Swedish masonry stove (kakelugn) is still a popular feature in many homes today. Houzz.se's Amanda Strömberg has found out more.

Sponsored Article
‘I view the world in a different way now’
National
OPINION: Sweden bad, Norway good, Trump better? I'm confused
Sponsored Article
Top 7 tips to help you learn Swedish
National
Here's how much Sweden's highest-earning authors make
National
Where to see the Northern Lights in Sweden
Blog updates

27 September

Cutting your nose …. (The Diplomatic Dispatch) »

"Last week, Jeremy Browne, the Special Representative for the City of London, visited Sweden. Jeremy was…" READ »

 

7 September

Svensk or svenska? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hejsan! My inbox is full of questions :-). Here’s one about when to use “svensk” and…" READ »

 
 
 
Sponsored Article
Expat finances in Sweden: the Common Reporting Standard
Gallery
People-watching: September 28th
Sponsored Article
Let's Talk: a personal Swedish language tutor in your pocket
National
Aliens' sex lives? Why Swedes want Nasa to send a condom into space
Analysis & Opinion
'If Sweden really wants startups, drop the red tape on migration'
Gallery
Property of the week: Gotland
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
National
Trump an 'embarrassment' Springsteen tells Sweden
Sponsored Article
'Creating a sense of home': Collective living in Stockholm
Gallery
People-watching: September 23rd-25th
Politics
Russian Sweden Democrat aide resigns over suspect deal
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
National
Muslim teacher leaves job after not shaking male colleague's hand
Sponsored Article
Gran Canaria: 'So much more than beaches'
Travel
Why we adore autumn in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 21st
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
Stockholmers hunt killer badger after attack on neighbourhood hipster cat
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
The Local Voices
Why this Russian developer is committed to helping refugees - with tech
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
National
Six key points in Sweden's budget plan
Sponsored Article
Retiring abroad: ensuring your health is covered
The Local Voices
How a Swedish name finally made recruiters notice this Iranian's CV
Sponsored Article
'There was no future for me in Turkey'
Gallery
Property of the week: Luleå
Sponsored Article
7 reasons you should join Sweden’s ’a-kassa’
Gallery
People-watching: September 16th-18th
Sponsored Article
‘Extremism can't be defeated on the battlefield alone’
Culture
Why Swedish TV has given these kids' trucks a sex swap
Sponsored Article
Stockholm: creating solutions to global challenges
National
TIMELINE: Everything you need to know about the Julian Assange case
Gallery
People-watching: September 14th
Politics
Why Sweden is putting troops on holiday dream island Gotland
The Local Voices
'What I mean when I say: I came here to blow myself up'
Society
VIDEO: Are Swedes that unfriendly?
The Local Voices
'Whenever I apply for jobs I’m treated like an unwanted stranger'
3,006
jobs available