SWEDEN holds a special appeal for Slovaks, some of whom still have ties to the country, as many Slovaks emigrated to Sweden in the past, especially during communism.
Swedish culture is known the world over, and it resonates in Slovakia too, especially the country’s rock and heavy metal musical exports, as well as its films, and last but not least, its forward-thinking design and fashion. Translations of best-selling criminal novels by Swedish authors have also enjoyed considerable popularity here.
Approached by The Slovak Spectator, the Embassy of Sweden in Vienna, which also oversees Slovakia, summed up its cultural events here: “There are different areas of Swedish culture that have found their way to Slovakia,” they wrote. “One of the most successful areas of Swedish culture abroad is, of course, music. Some researchers say that after the US and Great Britain, Sweden is the third biggest music exporter in the world. Even though this assertion is difficult to prove, one thing is for sure – Swedish music is well-known worldwide.”
Having said this, the embassy specified that last year it supported a few Swedish hard rock concerts at the Majestic Music Club in Bratislava, a venue that occasionally hosts Swedish rock and metal bands with fans in Slovakia.
The Swedish Embassy also actively supports organ music. The international organ festival “Ars Organi Nitra”, which takes place in the western-Slovak city of the same name, was opened last year by Swedish organist Jörgen Lindström and this year, dedicated Slovak organ music fans enjoyed the opening concert performed by Professor Hans Fagius, a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Music.
The embassy also supported Swedish composer Henrik Strindberg’s participation in the World New Music Days, a contemporary classical music festival, which last year was held in Košice as part of the European Capital of Culture (ECOC) project.
The Swedish city of Umea took over the ECOC title from Košice in 2014 (together with Riga). In connection with the ECOC project, “the embassy supported a Swedish edition of the Slovak magazine ENTER, which presents contemporary Slovak art, especially literature. The magazine is published by creative publishing house Divé Buky in Košice“.
“The editor-in-chief, with a group of Slovak translators … presented the magazine at the biggest literature festival in Umea - Littfest. With that, the interested Swedish public got a glimpse of contemporary Slovak art,” the embassy wrote.
The embassy also supports the activities of the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in Slovakia, which keeps Swedish traditions alive here, like the celebration of the summer solstice in June and the day of Saint Lucia in December. This is a bonus not just for the Swedish community in Slovakia, as even Slovak people linked to Sweden either through work or family love to attend these festivities.
“Sweden also has a very strong tradition in design and fashion, and many famous designers in furniture and textiles as well as industry design, graphics and crafts, are Swedish,” the embassy wrote to The Slovak Spectator. “The Swedish (and Scandinavian) style – often referred to as minimalist – means clean, simple lines and a strong emphasis on functionality. Not least, Swedish furniture design has been extremely successful. Pioneers in the Swedish design field included industrial designers who began adopting an engineering-driven design approach. Besides the Scandinavian design aspect, a distinguishing feature of Swedish design over the years has been a socially-oriented style reflecting people’s situation in life.”
One should not forget another popular genre of Swedish culture - cinematography. The NordFest film festival has become a staple of the cultural schedule in Bratislava, and offers annually an overview of what has been filmed in the northern countries, spread over a whole month, and is accompanied by various side events, like travellers’ lectures and other presentations.
The Embassy of Sweden also supports Swedish films in Slovakia’s biggest film festival, Art Film Fest in Trenčianske Teplice. In 2014, this June festival will present the film We Are the Best! by Swedish director Lukas Moodysson, and the short film On Suffocation, directed by Jennifer Malmqvist.
“The time of summer festivals is coming,” the embassy noted when summing up its future plans. “Later in June, the Swedish power-metal band Sabaton is announced to participate in the Topfest festival in Piešťany; and in July, the jazz trio Dirty Loops will be playing at the Open Jazz Fest in Zelená Voda.”
16. Jun 2014 at 0:00 | Zuzana Vilikovská