Planning With Art: Artistic Involvement Initiated by Public Authorities in Sweden

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

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Planning With Art: Artistic Involvement Initiated by Public Authorities in Sweden


  • Sofia Wiberg Department of Urban Planning and Environment, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden


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Abstract:  In a Swedish context, public authorities have, over the past 10 years, implemented a number of initiatives to make art a central part of not only sustainable development but also urban planning as a practice, process, and knowledge area. Art and artistic methods are seen to contribute with new methods for site analyses (often in combination with citizen involvement) to enhance embodied and situated knowledge and give space to critical reflection. One of the Swedish initiatives is called Art Is Happening. Between 2016 and 2018, the Swedish government assigned the Public Art Agency Sweden money to work with public art and citizen inclusion in million program areas. The initiative was framed as using artistic methods to strengthen democracy in areas with low turnout. Fifteen places around the country were selected. In this article, the focus is on one of those projects in Karlskrona, where an artist collaborated with citizens to create a public artwork and local meeting place. During the process, the artist partly lived in the area. Rather than discussing the artistic project from a binary logic as disempowerment/empowerment, consensual/agonistic, and political/antipolitical, it is examined as a process involving a mixture of both, where power unfolded in ways that were both problematic and valuable at the same time. This approach moves away from “good or bad” to a nuanced way of discussing how artistic methods can contribute to understandings of situated knowledge production in urban planning.

Keywords:  artistic involvement; Karlskrona; participation; planning; public authorities; Sweden

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v7i3.5367


© Sofia Wiberg. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.