Regional Aesthetics: Locating Swedish Media

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1 Regional Aesthetics: Locating Swedish Media

2

3 eds. Erik Hedling, Olof Hedling & Mats Jönsson Regional Aesthetics: Locating Swedish Media mediehistoriskt arkiv 15

4 MEDIEHISTORISKT ARKIV kungliga biblioteket box stockholm författarna & kungliga biblioteket 2010 formgivning: tryck: fälth & hässler, värnamo, april 2010 issn isbn

5 Table of Contents Acknowledgements 9. erik hedling, olof hedling and mats jönsson Mapping the Regional: An Introductory Note The Globe mariah larsson Representing Sexual Transactions: A National Perspective on a Changing Region in Three Swedish Films tommy gustafsson The Last Dog in Rwanda: Swedish Educational Films and Film Teaching Guides on the History of Genocide ann-kristin wallengren John Ericsson: Victor of Hampton Roads. Images of Sweden in American History anders marklund Beyond Swedish Borders: On Foreign Places in Swedish Films

6 105. emilia ljungberg Regions of Globalization: The Asian City as Global Metropolis in a Swedish Travel Magazine The Nation anders wilhelm åberg Seacrow Island: Mediating Arcadian Space in the Folkhem Era and Beyond patrick vonderau Just Television: Inga Lindström and the Franchising of Culture cecilia mörner Film in Falun Falun on Film: The Construction of an Official Local Place Identity åsa jernudd Cinema, Memory and Place-Related Identities: Remembering Cinema-Going in the Post-Industrial Town of Fagersta in Bergslagen ulrika holgersson Regional Conflicts: From the Merchant s House to the People s Home magnus rodell The Multitude of Celebratory Space: National Day Celebrations and the Making of Swedish Spaces patrik lundell Regional Aesthetics in Transition: Ideology, Infrastructure and History The Region ingrid stigsdotter Crime Scene Skåne: Guilty Landscapes and Cracks in the Functionalist Façade in Sidetracked, Firewall and One Step Behind olof hedling Murder, Mystery and Megabucks? Films and Filmmaking as Regional and Local Place Promotion in Southern Sweden

7 mats jönsson Lund: Open City? Swedish Municipal Mediation erik hedling On the Rocks : The Scanian Connection in Ingmar Bergman s Early Films fredrik persson From Patriotic Jigsaw Puzzling to Regional Rivalry: Images of the Swedish Nation and Its Regions tina askanius Video Activism 2.0: Space, Place and Audiovisual Imagery ann steiner Town Called Malmö Nostalgia and Urban Anxiety in Literature from the 1990s and 2000s 377. List of Contributors 381. Index

8 Acknowledgements the research for this project has been supported by Sparbanken Syd, Ystad, and Wahlgrenska stiftelsen in Malmö. Also, Stiftelsen Elisabeth Rausings minnesfond, The Centre for Languages and Literature, Lund University and Holger och Thyra Lauritzens stiftelse generously contributed to the completion of the book. Much of the work has been accomplished within the research project Film and the Swedish Welfare State, funded by The Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation. Many contributions were first presented at the NECS-Conference (European Network for Cinema and Media Studies) in Lund, Sweden, in June We thank Grace och Philip Sandbloms fond, Gyllenstiernska Krapperupstiftelsen, and the National Library of Sweden for funding this event. We would also like to direct our gratitude to the producer Daniel Ahlquist at Yellowbird Films for giving us permission to use Kenneth Branagh as Kurt Wallander on the cover of this volume. Finally, we thank Karen Williams for improving our English. Lund, January 2010 Erik Hedling, Olof Hedling, Mats Jönsson

9 Erik Hedling, Olof Hedling and Mats Jönsson Mapping the Regional: An Introductory Note in many respects, this book functions as an academic GPS, mapping more than two centuries of Swedish media representations, while slightly altering the direction with each new chapter. Encompassing anything from written travelogues in the eighteenth and nineteenth century via literature, press, feature films, documentaries and TV programmes to contemporary video activism on the Internet, Regional Aesthetics navigates us through a variety of media landscapes that have changed significantly in both form and content. Our exclusive focus on Swedish imagery should not, however, be seen as a narrowing factor. On the contrary, we are firmly convinced that our discussions are just as relevant to other contexts. So, regardless of your origin, background, position and place, we hope that you ll always know exactly where you are and where your next turn is while reading the following pages. Now, you may ask why we choose to publish an anthology such as this right now, when digital, virtual, glocal and social media appear to have taken over as the predominant forms of communication. One significant, perhaps commonsensical, reason is that the media of all periods and genres always need to be put in historical perspective if they are to be comprehended in any depth. And naturally, the activities and responses triggered by this output also need to be scrutinized individually, in relation to each other as well as over time. Contemporary techniques can, in turn,

10 shed new light on how issues of space, place and location have been dealt with medially in the past. For instance, being posted on a digital social network with images of yourself, your friends, family and home is no longer an implicit request that you may choose to act on or disregard. Instead, you now constantly need to meet the never-ending bombardment of non-negotiable preconditions if you wish to remain included on these virtual and increasingly predominant media platforms. Websites such as Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter comprise some of the most telling examples of this massive contemporary trend, and their apparent success suggests that, in the future, we by all accounts will be confronted with even more advanced conceptions of space and place. Indirectly, however, this development also hints at the possibility that analogous media networks have existed in the past. If we remain in the present, there are numerous examples of websites on the Internet that skilfully operate globally around the clock. Many of them have had and will probably for a foreseeable future continue to have a tremendous impact on the ways in which particularly younger generations think about their immediate and distant environments. With regard to the questions posed in this volume, one must thus continuously ask oneself whether future generations will experience a diminishing need for spatial belonging owing to even more elaborate and farreaching social media. Or whether the development will be the opposite: Will the mediated identity assembly we see on the Internet today eventually fade out and lead to a renaissance of geographically located identity making and social interactions of a more traditional nature? Our analytic journeys through past and present media landscapes attempt to answer questions such as these. The analyses have been made significantly easier to pursue thanks to the ongoing digitization of various media archives around the world, but also thanks to the never-ending stream of publications on aesthetic and spatiotemporal topics within the various academic fields addressed here. One such early study contains Raymond Williams examinations of literary portrayals of the country and the city in Britain from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries (Williams, 1973). From our Swedish perspective, Williams most relevant observation in that work is when he concludes that his material was being formed, in a shadowed country, under the growth of industry and the cities. It is a persistent imagery (Williams, 1973: 196). And indeed, the regional aesthetics of Sweden that we explore below has also been persistent, both as contemporary source material and as media utterances in their original time and place. Moreover, Williams idea of a shad- 10 erik hedling, olof hedling & mats jönsson

11 owed country, under the growth of industry and the cities is in our view a highly accurate description of Sweden during the past two or so centuries. Not surprisingly, many of the texts analyse how the rural and urban landscapes were aesthetically mediated during these formative years. The more contemporary scholars that have inspired us all advocate an interdisciplinary approach to studies of communication of place that mixes in-depth analysis of specific phenomena with a general understanding of human forms of representation. Accordingly, the nineteen chapters regularly combine textual close readings with historical contextualization. By using such an approach, we believe that the crucial moments during which the aesthetics of Sweden s media output were either consolidated or challenged will become easier to perceive and examine. Moreover, such an approach will help us ascertain how various forms of persistent imagery have influenced the communication of place from and about Sweden. Nations, Regions, Sovereignty Although predominantly historical in outlook, all texts have been exclusively written and later on revised with the present volume in mind. This means that they have been conceived during a period in Swedish history marked by complex geopolitical affiliation. Accordingly, this is also a book about another form of change, pertaining to the increasingly vague significance of concepts such as the national, the regional, the local, the global, and the glocal. Among the several reasons for this territorial and geopolitical confusion is the recognition that national sovereignty is in decline as a regulatory force in global coexistence. Therefore, the fact that the viability of cultural or national insularity has been seriously undermined also needs to be taken into account. This has become particularly obvious in economic and financial matters, aptly exemplified by the 2002 introduction of the euro, which now spreads a continentally converging aesthetics by way of daily monetary transactions. In one fell swoop, this transformation wiped out twelve formerly more or less autonomous national currencies, hence preventing individual governments from pursuing the independent monetary management that was previously a distinct and often employed form of national positioning (in the present context, the visual positioning on the coins and notes can still be noted as an implicit yet not unimportant manifestation of attempts at sustained sovereignty). British social scientist and geographer Allen J. Scott presupposed this tendency already a decade ago when he concluded: What does appear to be occurring at the present time is a certain dislocation of the bonds that mapping the regional 11

12 have hitherto held national economies and sovereign states together as the twin economic and political facets of a single social reality (Scott, 1998: 5). Being drawn to questions concerning the regional, however, Scott concurrently noted that the aforementioned developments have not only not undermined the region as the basis of dense and many-sided human interactions [ ], but in many respects have actually reinforced it (Scott: 4). Just as Scott talks about holding sovereign states together, one may perhaps refer here to Benedict Anderson s famous, but by now perhaps somewhat worn, dictum about nations as imagined communities and discuss regions in similar ways. In any event, this is exactly how several of the approaches used below address the complex intertwining between concepts such as the national, the regional and the global. And in all of them, aesthetic concerns are dealt with in some way or another. For instance, the aesthetic artefacts that we consider be they works of literature, products of the press, TV programmes, films, Internet postings or something else at times use Anderson s national imagining as a comparatively unproblematic whole. In these cases, the specific nation and its citizens are essentially set apart in relation to other countries or the rest of the world. More often, however, regional and local areas are the focus of the investigations, on occasion sketched from a national model, but primarily understood as varyingly independent territories either based on a multifaceted understanding or in conflict and competition with other domestic places and self-conceptions. In still other instances, it is the relationship of these areas to a global world or to more limited foreign entities that comes under scrutiny. Consequently, several of the following chapters deal with Swedish perspectives on the world beyond the national borders, which of course in itself also entails a fair bit of self-imagining. On the other hand, when Sweden is imagined from abroad in, for instance, a British or German television series, the envisioning may appear as something experienced through a distorting mirror, at least for those living in the particular places depicted. In our title, the term region is used in what may appear to be a rather liberal sense. Thus, use of the word is not exclusively coupled with a geographic area on a sub-national level, such as an administrative division or district. And even if such territorial mapping occurs, there are cases where the writer is concerned with media representations of indefinite or vast areas that are aesthetically distinguished by certain more or less unique features. Because all approaches comply with the various definitions of region found in most contemporary dictionaries, there was no cause for us to be less tolerant. 12 erik hedling, olof hedling & mats jönsson

13 Another reason for placing this particular word at the centre of our book is the multilayered and complex representation of it in both the new and the old media. The ways in which Swedish media have represented and conceived of the region during the past two hundred years have indeed changed repeatedly in scope, depth, style as well as meaning. Thus, in much of today s geopolitical rhetoric, the region is the message. Just consider the ways in which almost every part of the contemporary developed world prides itself with interactive websites that present the local area and heritage to global audiences. Conversely, the Internet is also saturated with websites that allow each and every one of us to go wherever we wish whenever we want. Phenomena such as The Virtual Tourist, The Digital Tourist, The Virtual Traveller, The Virtual Vacation, and Virtual Tours constitute examples of such new and rapidly expanding niche markets, which repeatedly change our conceptions and uses of place and space. However, they obviously also influence the ways in which we relate and get used to the aesthetics of these virtual locations. Because we aim to put such contemporary manifestations in a historical perspective, some of the following chapters deliberately use the term regional aesthetics in a more traditional sense. In these texts, regional aesthetics becomes a label where relationships between the immanent qualities of certain representations and the locations they were either received in, produced at or depict are interrogated. In texts dealing with more recent expressions, however, regional aesthetics becomes more of an umbrella term, employed to typify inherent features in artefacts and works produced in a post-national and more virtual world where, alas, the region is the message. Our own journeys through the Swedish media landscape took about a year and a half to complete. Some were made in order to achieve a better understanding of contemporary regional representations, others to pinpoint a few of the many forerunners. That being said, we quickly decided against presenting the results chronologically. Instead, the overall theme of the book ended in a geographically oriented structure, with three main parts covering foreign locations, the Swedish nation, and the southern county of Skåne, respectively. In each of these sections, the focus lies on spatial and aesthetic considerations at different times in history and in different forms of media. The Globe In Representing Sexual Transactions: A National Perspective on A Changing Region in Three Swedish Films, Mariah Larsson analyses three Swedish mapping the regional 13

14 films about sexual transactions between Swedish men and former Soviet women, made over the past ten years and set in the Baltic states. Torsk på Tallinn is a mockumentary and Buy Bye Beauty more of a documentary, both made for television; Lilya 4-ever is a prestigious fiction film. Larsson s argument is aimed at the connection between these films and the passing of two new and radical laws pertaining to sexuality in the Swedish parliament. The laws and the films both related to the potentially negative aspects of sex. In The Last Dog in Rwanda: Swedish Educational Films and Film Teaching Guides on the History of Genocide, Tommy Gustafsson scrutinizes the construction and explanation of the massacres in Rwanda by way of teaching materials, produced for and supplied to schools by the Swedish Film Institute. The teaching materials consist of guides to respected English language films such as Hotel Rwanda and Shooting Dogs and also the Swedish short The Last Dog in Rwanda, all made in the twenty-first century. Here, Gustafsson critically analyses the teaching materials and refers to a long-standing ideological division in Sweden between valuable and commercial films. These particular films were recognized as valuable, but their proclaimed value as such came to shadow the historiographical problems they created. In John Ericsson: Victor of Hampton Roads. Images of Sweden in American History, Ann-Kristin Wallengren dissects one Swedish image of the classic battle between the ironclads. In 1862, with the American Civil War raging, the Monitor and the Merrimack fought for naval supremacy at Hampton Roads in southeastern Virginia, the struggle ending in a draw. The image studied here was constructed by a classic 1930s biopic about John Ericsson, the Swedish engineer behind the ingenious armoured ship the Monitor. In the film, former film director Victor Sjöström of international fame plays Ericsson, who is held up not only as a genius of his time, but also implicitly and symbolically as a person who represents the modern virtues of the emerging Swedish welfare state of the 1930s. How other countries are represented in Swedish films of the past 30 years is the topic of Anders Marklund s Beyond Swedish Borders: On Foreign Places in Swedish Films. Here, he covers a wide range of films, from modern classics such as Kay Pollak s As It Is in Heaven to rare action movies like Harald Swart s Hamilton. Marklund remarks that the country visited in the films often reflects on either the genre or the general generic mood. In Pollak s melodramatic work, romantic Salzburg in Austria is used to emphasize the ongoing love relationship, whereas in Swart s espionage thriller, Russian Murmansk in the former Communist Soviet Union represents darkness, threat and a world of crime. 14 erik hedling, olof hedling & mats jönsson

15 In Regions of Globalization. The Asian City as Global Metropolis in a Swedish Travel Magazine, Emilia Ljungberg explores some distinctive features of the Swedish travel magazine RES. Drawing on the theories of media scholar David Morley, Ljungberg claims that the privilege of the contemporary elite as a matter of choice resides in the possibility of moving between the local and the global. The importance of this dialectic is apparent in the magazine, where, for instance, the local is often connected to the qualities of what is perceived as a retreat. The global, on the other hand, is represented primarily by the big city and to an increasing degree the Asian metropolis, cities such as Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Shanghai. The journalistic travel texts in RES are characterized by their aim to find a subtle balance between the local and the global. The Nation In Seacrow Island: Mediating Arcadian Space in the Folkhem Era and Beyond, Anders Wilhelm Åberg employs the term Arcadian space, here derived from the work of the poet Göran Printz-Påhlson and indicating the strong idyllic overtones of certain rural surroundings. Åberg accounts for the swift emergence of vacation homes in Sweden in the 1960s, also for the working and lower middle classes, something that was made possible by the social engineering of the welfare state. One of the most popular sites for these second homes was the Stockholm archipelago. It was also here that the enormously popular Seacrow Island cycle was set, both as a television show and on the big screen. Åberg analyses the ideology behind the Seacrow Island stories and also connects these tales to other popular representations of the archipelago. In Just Television: Inga Lindström and the Franchising of Culture, Patrick Vonderau studies the extremely popular German television series Inga Lindström, premiered in January 2006 and still transmitting. The episodes are all stories of a certain form of melodrama, with German actors playing Swedish characters and with a setting in the Swedish region of Södermanland, covering southern Stockholm and the adjacent countryside. Here, Vonderau addresses the modern media practice of creating franchises and studies how Inga Lindström employs the established German television strategy of staging melodramatic performance on pastoral foreign soil, and how these televised movies have also served to promote Swedish landscape resulting in increased tourism. In Film in Falun Falun on Film: The Construction of An Official Local Place Identity, Cecilia Mörner draws on film scholar Peter Bill- mapping the regional 15

16 ingham s notion of geo-political inscriptions in order to identify and mark the tension between the obvious conceptions of a place and the ideological structures that underlie them. She employs various images of the city of Falun in central Sweden DVDs and also public film screenings organized by the local museum to differentiate between the two levels. Thus, the Nobel laureate Selma Lagerlöf is constructed by the official discourse to be an exclusive part of Falun s cultural heritage, whereas Swedish literary history generally connects her to the neighbouring region of Värmland. Mörner also presents some more striking examples of this kind of regional appropriation. In Cinema, Memory and Place-Related Identities: Remembering Cinema-Going in the Post-Industrial Town of Fagersta in Bergslagen, Åsa Jernudd makes a unique contribution to the book by employing a sociological method to investigate the historical role of cinemas in the small former industrial town of Fagersta and its surroundings in central Sweden. Jernudd presents her in-depth interviews with fifteen residents of Fagersta, all of them with memories of a cinema culture of the past. Based on the interviews, Jernudd lays bare various social tensions regarding, for instance, class, and she also manages to create an alternative history, both regarding the role of the cinema as institution and the decline of the industry on which Fagersta was entirely dependent. In her chapter Regional Conflicts: From the Merchant s House to the People s Home, Ulrika Holgersson addresses the Swedish film The Maid, directed in 1946 by Åke Ohberg and based on adaptations of three novels by Harald Beijer. The film stars Eva Dahlbeck (later of Bergman fame, particularly in Smiles of a Summer Night) and tells the story of a young countrywoman Brita of humble origin, who is employed as a housemaid in a bourgeois Stockholm home. Through various plot developments, Brita eventually marries Greger (George Fant), the son of the house, in spite of the different forms of resistance from people in the environment. Here, Holgersson notes the self-evident dimension of aiming for class equality. There are, however, many other complicating dimensions, which also are addressed. In The Multitude of Celebratory Space: National Day Celebrations and the Making of Swedish Spaces, Magnus Rodell puts the annual celebration of Sweden s National Day on 6 June under scrutiny. Rodell emphasizes three different spatial structures in which these celebrations take place: nostalgic space, confrontational space and official space. His empirical material derives mostly from the celebrations in Stockholm in 2005, but also from a rare occasion when violent confrontations occurred 16 erik hedling, olof hedling & mats jönsson

17 between neo-nazis and radical left-wing groups in Skellefteå in Another example is the 2009 celebrations in the northern town of Boden, situated in the north of the vast region of Norrland, which borders on Finland. Here, the National Day marked the end of the Cold War and new missions for the military in a town that was traditionally one of the most densely garrisoned in northern Europe. Patrik Lundell, in his Regional Aesthetics in Transition: Ideology, Infrastructure, and History, elaborates on the intellectual history of travel literature on the fertile region of Östergötland, situated some hundred kilometres south of Stockholm. Lundell reads the travel literature from the Enlightenment to Romanticism, discovering a journey basically from flat land to flat land. By this he means that the laudatory descriptions of the plain were briefly exchanged for a discovery of the mountainous parts of the southern part of the region at the turn of the nineteenth century. With the construction of Göta kanal, an enormous channel project linking western and eastern Sweden, and flowing through Östergötland, the writers returned to the flat land. The channel was opened in The Region In Crime Scene Skåne: Guilty Landscapes and Cracks in the Functionalist Façade in Sidetracked, Firewall and One Step Behind, Ingrid Stigsdotter contemplates the first season of the Kurt Wallander films (all made in 2008), produced by the BBC and directed mainly at a British audience. Drawing on a variety of cultural theorists such as Giuliana Bruno and Jonathan Culler, Stigsdotter analyses the role of the Swedish landscape of Skåne, the setting of the original novels by Henning Mankell as well as of the BBC television adaptations of them. Here, Stigsdotter unveils a dialectic between the need for the producers to make the landscape appear familiar to British viewers and at the same time adding to it the exotic allure of Sweden. Olof Hedling s Murder, Mystery and Megabucks?: Films and Filmmaking as Regional and Local Place Promotion in Southern Sweden also turns to the Kurt Wallander detective stories. The novels are set in Skåne and the city of Ystad. So is the regional film production centre whose activities are at the core of this analysis. Here, the first thirteen instalments of the Swedish Wallander cycle were produced, and Hedling pursues his argument studying the role of the films in the local tourist trade in Ystad. The question about the cultural and financial effects, how- mapping the regional 17

18 ever, is not easy to answer, even if Hedling concludes that the city of Ystad has, after all, built up an appeal that is largely dependent on the workings of its film industry. In Lund: Open City?: Swedish Municipal Mediation , Mats Jönsson studies how the university city of Lund in southern Skåne was captured on film during World War II. The films examined are two extracts from contemporary newsreels, filmed and shown at the time in regular cinemas, and an amateur film, shot and screened privately by a local cinematographer. The newsreel films were made in 1939 and 1944, respectively, and the amateur film coincided with the fall of Germany and peace in May All of the films concentrate on parts of Lund that were central to the city s cultural heritage, such as the cathedral and the university. Drawing on theories of nationalism, the author analyses how these iconic elements were at the very core of creating a celebratory style in local documentary. In On the Rocks : The Scanian Connection in Ingmar Bergman s Early Films, Erik Hedling focuses on some early Bergman films set in the hilly landscapes of northwestern Skåne, particularly the hilltop of Kullaberg, which juts dramatically out into the sea. Bergman made his first film, To Joy, here in 1949, and he continued with Sawdust and Tinsel, A Lesson in Love, and, finally, his masterpiece The Seventh Seal. In the first three films, the stony landscape was employed in order to conjure up threatening feelings of erotic deceit between husband and wife, in the fourth, The Seventh Seal, the rocky shoreline depicts the hostile nature of existence itself. In From Patriotic Jigsaw Puzzling to Regional Rivalry: Images of the Swedish Nation and its Regions, Fredrik Persson accounts for the history of nationalistic tendencies in the region of Skåne, a county seized by the Swedes from the kingdom of Denmark through the peace treaty of Roskilde in Here, Persson discusses history in terms of a construct, employing the term identity creation drama to analyse the various historiographical artefacts. At the core of Persson s interest is the recent television drama Snapphanes, a lavish and costly story of Scanian guerrillas fighting Swedish authorities at the end of the seventeenth century. Persson unveils traces of a regional nationalism related to contemporary European discourses on finance and politics. In Video Activism 2.0: Space, Place and Audiovisual Imagery, Tina Askanius studies the Internet and particularly texts revolving around the 2008 European Social Forum that took place in the city of Malmö. The overall approach is to study how Malmö as a locality was debated on the 18 erik hedling, olof hedling & mats jönsson

19 Internet. Here, Askanius addresses several issues of, for instance, globalization, media activism and even political resistance. Although Sweden was the host nation of the event, the media texts dispersed with Malmö at the core were not only concerned with local issues, but instead pertained just as much to Europe and the rest world as well. Indeed, there was a merger of transnational movements in a flow showing that contemporary media activism is neither local nor global. Ann Steiner, in Town called Malmö Nostalgia and Urban Anxiety in Literature from the 1990s and 2000s, focuses on Sweden s third largest city Malmö, which has been the centre of Skåne for centuries. The city went through some drastic transitions in the 1980s and 1990s, from being a major Swedish industrial site to a place mostly for business and higher education. The most obvious changes to the cityscape were the building of the bridge to Denmark and Copenhagen and the erection of a twohundred-metre-high skyscraper called Turning Torso. Steiner analyses various examples of literary fiction from Malmö, unveiling nostalgia for times gone by as well as chilly recognitions of the contemporary reality references Microsoft Streets & Trips, ( ). Scott, Allen J. (1998), Regions and the World Economy: The Coming Shape of Global Production, Competition, and Political Order (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Williams, Raymond (1973), The Country and the City (London: Chatto & Windus). mapping the regional 19

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