‘I want to live, I want to die in the Nordics’, extract from the Swedish national anthem.
The year is 2022 and Sweden is in the midst of preparing for the yearly Midsummer celebrations, not yet knowing that all conversations around the festivities will be shifted onto a larger topic. A discussion had burst with its start on Reddit and has now taken over the international internet landscape. It is one of the rare instances where the country is spoken about worldwide outside of its politics, cars, furniture and music. This time it was criticism met with restraint from the Swedish side, however, it was for the first time a reveal and an insight into the immigrant perspective in the Scandinavian nation.
What seemed to be an innocent discussion was later named under the hashtag ‘Swedengate’ and it discussed the practice of not being fed as a guest within a Swedish household. The discussion was started by immigrants due to their personal experience with this culture shock and was for the first time brought back as a criticism to Swedes, although the discussion had existed for decades between generations of immigrants. It quickly fizzled out, highlighting the dissonance between Swedes and their fellow citizens along with how the immigrant perspective is discussed by being stripped away from its nuance and complexity.
The discussion about immigration is mostly polarised within a framework of politics that portrays a generalised narrative that disregards the true immigrant experience. The danger it brings is the restrictions and stereotypes it births. Being told from the outside perspective and as a result disregards the layers of the hundreds of different diasporas that enrich Sweden. An exaggerated notion of otherness is additionally created by the Swedish media and politicians using the term ‘Our Immigrants’.
So who really are ‘Our Immigrants’ and what does it mean to be an immigrant in Sweden?
I want to bring forward a group of artists that will answer the question. By shifting away from the topic being brought up within a political context, beyond news headlines and governmental decisions. To showcase the complexity and untangle what comes with forming a dual cultural identity from the individual and communal perspective in a country like Sweden. The artists will expand on the homogenous narrative in their own words and visions, by showcasing the beauty and community it has birthed.