Wednesday, August 28, 2002

Stockholm is a strange city. Or, rather, it's not - it's quite the opposite - it's so normal the main island is called "Norrmalm". Stockholm is very clean, very lovely, very pleasant, very nice. Too nice, perhaps. I felt it could do with some rough edges.

Where is the new architecture? There doesn't seem to any construction going on anywhere in the city. There are lots of lovely old buildings and there are also some seventies developments, but apparently nothing since then. The only new buildings I saw were in the style of the old buildings. Where is the brave, exciting new architecture?

Where is the new art? There's a fantastic art college - where do young artists exhibit? Do art graduates all go into design, rather than art, churning out functional kitchenware and jewellery? I asked at least ten people where the trendy galleries were, but none of them knew; and these were all young, trendy people involved in media and fashion. Could it be that there is no thriving gallery scene? Is that why so many young creative Swedes move to London?

Where are the clubs playing new music? All the gay bars we went to played a non-stop soundtrack of Eurovision songs - harmless fun for half an hour, but grating after that. I couldn't work out how much of this was irony, and how much real enjoyment.

I suspect that Stockholm - like Brussels - has loads going on somewhere under the beautifully sleek surface. You just have to know where to find it - and I didn't.

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