Victoria Percovich Gutierrez (CSAM) and Katarina Rundgren (Testbedstudio arkitekter)
Monday 28 November 2022

The year was 2009. The entire second floor of Monbijougatan 15 had been empty after club Indigo had moved out a few years earlier. The space was raw, but full of traces of the previous tenants – textile factory turned Buddhist temple, turned kickboxing association, turned Indigo and now to house SIGNAL’s exhibition A Parallel History – The Independent Art Arenas of Skåne 1968–2008. 600 sqm full of Malmö-history was the perfect setting for our large-scale exhibition that highlighted all the independent art initiatives that enriched Skåne’s art life from 1968 onwards. Among the many visitors who saw the exhibition was the owner of the legendary Tempo Bar & Kök and somewhere along the line the idea of doing something together in that very space was born. In this way, the idea of a joint premises for SIGNAL and the newly opened restaurant Grand Öl & Mat was born. But to make this plan a success, we needed architectural help to transform one space for two operations. Testbedstudio Malmö was contacted and the iconic balcony was built. Kvarteret Bilden previously housed Magnus Gertten’s Auto Images, Filmcentrum Syd, Ifema, Galleri Magnus Åklundh, Elastic Gallery, Johan Berggren Gallery, several book publishers, photographers, freelance cultural workers etc., giving rise to its designation as a rich cultural quarter.

The year is 2022. The gaming giant Massive has bought an entire block and moved into Möllevången. The textile factory has become Trikåfabriken with new tenants and a new focus. Sorgenfri’s rehearsal spaces have been replaced by the newly built residential building “Iggy”. It is no wonder that a city grows and changes. But what happens when everything becomes the same? How can we ensure that public art spaces and production sites are not crowded out by office complexes? Malmö’s art scene is booming and at the same time several studio associations, exhibition spaces and collective workshops are facing the acute threat of losing their premises. Economics, profit maximisation and the vision of a dynamic mixed city do not go together. We need to challenge entrenched structures and classic displacement mechanisms. As the saying goes, you should not put all your eggs in one basket. How do we safeguard a mixed and sustainable city where there is room for everyone, also the less well-off including cultural workers?

To raise these questions and identify the gaps between vision and action, we have invited CSAM (Centre for Land Use Studies), which has been studying and mapping these processes and how different parts of Malmö have changed for several years, as well as architect Katarina Rundgren from Testbedstudio Malmö. Change always happens both too slowly and far too quickly, but right now there is a momentum that is worth seizing if Malmö is to remain an attractive city for culture in the future.

Illustration: Testbedstudio arkitekter Malmö, 2010.

NB! Temporary address: Monbijougatan 17C, 4th floor with elevator.