Issue #23, 2006

Tom Sandqvist and Ștefan Constantinescu

1. What is the role you want to play in the world of arts?

-I belong in the workshop or in the studio. It is there that I want to complete what I have started, making fiction movies, documentary, photography and, of course, painting. I have several movie ideas, but I am aware that making a movie takes far more material resources than any other of my past projects.

2. What is your credo?

-Well, I will quote from two living “classics”. Doru Borobeică (Boro for the connoisseurs), the bass player in the rock band Iris, once told Ion Dumitrescu (Pralea), the drummer in the band, that he thought it was about time for a change in the band’s sound, that they should play sometning more like Van Halen. “The stuff we play know is a little out of date” he concluded. Pralea simply told him: “We gotta stick to our own thing, to what we know best, TUF-TAF, TUF-TAF, TUF-TAF, and I’m sure our time is gonna come“. Instinctively, Ion Dumitrescu realised that they must be consistent in their artistic activity, that they must follow their path, despite fashion.

Adrian Mutu, a professional football player, now in Italy, playing for Juventus, once made a cool remark: “In 90 minutes, a forward player has at least 3 opportunities to score. One of them has to end up with a goal”; all you need is the presence of spirit, the intuition and the necessary courage at the right time. I mean, I’m not advocating for somebody to be a cynical opportunist and ruthlessly speculate the circumstances just for the sake of success, but for building paciently, until the next step in the way will come naturally. Then all you have to do is climb up that step or, if you are a football player, score.

3. Why did you move from Bucharest to Stockholm?

-The chance played an important part for me, too. I came here in 1993 to reunite with my family. My father had come here during communism, in 1987, for visiting    his brother, and remained here. My mother and brother left right after the first Mineriad, in 1990. Initially I was determined not to go anywhere, I was very young and the fall of communism had generated an exhuberant state within my generation. I left, however, looking forward to seeing my family and then come back. I left to Sweden for a couple of months and here I am, after 12 years. I realized that, at least professionally speaking, this was a very good opportunity of seeing, knowing and learning other things, which I am sure I could have never learnt at the Bucharest Art Academy, not at that time, anyway. I became a student of the Stockholm Royal Art Academy and I think I made the right choice. A great deal of my current activity is due to the Stockholm school.

4. Why are you so interested in questions related to the artistic career?

-My interest for the career is collateral. In fact, I wish to be left alone and do what I want to, but, like always, in order to do so you have to convince enough to be taken seriously. It’s like going to the bank, when you receive a credit because you presented an adequate security. Having to explain yourself all day long or to prove what you can do, to wear your resume on your forehead – that gets on my nerves.

5. What should a young artist know?

-I return to the second question and add another “golden thought” of Gheorghe Hagi, regarded by many as the greatest Romanian football player of all times: “The ball doesn’t get tired.” The important thing is what you do and the way you do it, not running like crazy after trends and success.

6. What about your experience as an emmigrant in Sweden?

-My experience in Sweden has many good parts, first of all regarding the artistic creation. I am sure that, without the financial support I received here, my artistic activity would have been entirely different. Socially, the opportunity of meeting other artists helped me avoid a dramatic experience, like, for instance, that of the characters in my movie The Passage. Things have changed dramatically in the last ten years, since Sweden became part of the European Union, and the changes seem more and more radical and fast as time goes by. Sometimes, it takes distance to analyze these changes as honest as possible. The globalization affects us all, with the goods and the bads. I’is an irreversible and inevitable process and we can only be the spectators of it. But the means through which I could actively influence these changes are insufficient; that’s why my role as an artist generally remains that of a story teller.

7. What do you think about the fact that The National Museum of Contemporary Art is in the Ceaușescu’s former House of the People?

-I think this is a mistake; the presence of the museum in such a space seems to me improper, but what’s even worse is the presence of the Parliament there. I know I’m not the first to say it, but what I would have placed there is a museum of communism. As for the Romanian contemporary art, I wish there were more institutions, with different lines and programmes, in order to create a healthy climate and, why not, a contemporary art market in Romania. I heard about several interesting projects fot the next years, but we should wait and see how many of them shall materialize.          

8. ‑What do you think about the Swedish artistic climate?

-Although I’ve been living here for almost 12 years, I cannot pretend I know everything. I graduated here in 1998 and had my first exhibition in 2003. I was literally scared and twice as exigent with myself before I agreed to exhibit in museums and art galleries.

However, I am not afraid of exhibiting anymore. But I think it takes a lot of hard work and plenty of time to understand how a mechanism like the Swedish artistic environment works. There are well-known artists here who do not have a consistent artistic creation, but who have a successful career, built only on the basis of a very rich social life.

9. How do you feel about working with me?

-The work between the artist and the theoretician is indispensable for me, in my artistic activity. The theoretician is like a general practicioner: he has to know ­everything about you and treat you when you need it. As for you, Tom, I consider you to be my family doctor.                                           

Translated by Alex Moldovan


TOM SANDQVIST lives and works in Lid, Nyköping, and Stockholm, Sweden. He is assistant professor in art history at the University of Lapland, Finland, and senior lecturer at University College of Arts, Crafts and Design in Stockholm, Sweden. Sandqvist has published several books and studies on contemporary art, philosophy, and aesthetics, at the moment involved in a research project on the cultural background of Romanian avant-garde. As curator Sandqvist has been responsible of several exhibitions in both Sweden, Finland and elsewhere.