A crowdfunded book and exhibition is aiming to set the record straight after Donald Trump’s inflammatory - and false - comments about Sweden earlier this year.
‘Last Night in Sweden’ showcases the “true and candid” reality of life in a country that is regularly held up by a xenophobic fringe - and the President of the USA - as an example of nation crumbling under the pressure of immigration.
Trump used a Florida rally in February to shed light on a terrible terror attack that happened “last night in Sweden”.
The only problem is that no such attack ever took place.
(For the facts about immigration tap here)
In response a group of Sweden’s most acclaimed photographers began a crowdfunder campaign to host a new exhibition and publish a book capturing “all the small moments that rarely make the news but do make up a
multifarious and largely prospering country”.
Crucially, the works do not shy away from showing genuine issues related to immigration and the book’s foreword acknowledges that following an extremist attack in Stockholm in April, it’s “hard to claim that ‘nothing happened last night in Sweden’”.
One of the book’s authors, Henrik Berggren, said: “The pictures do not depict a paradise or a perfect society, but they are a response to the politicised image of Sweden as a country in crisis.
“Because we know that the nation is a daily plebiscite in which we choose what kind of people we want to be.”
Since their home country doesn’t have a lot of woodland, these scouts
from Syria never had much chance to learn how to track at night, build
bonfires, bake bread on a stick over a wood fire, or lash together a
shelter. Instead, they’ve played music. Since 2013, the Syrian
Orthodox Scout Corps in Hallonbergen has carried on that tradition in
the scouts’ new country. Improvising with wooden crates, Mia Aziri,
Mery Som and Lea Azri get their first practice as drummers in the gym
locker room at Örskolan.
Thirty-seven-year-old Maria Grancea is Romani and she’s doing her best to support her family as a beggar. She’s left her two boys with their grandmother in Romania and is now in her seventh month of pregnancy. “I beg because I want my kids to be able to go to school I never got to,” says Maria who estimates her daily income at a hundred kronor (£8.30).
In Sweden non-profit citizens associations come in all shapes. In the pool at the Rosenlund Bath House some thirty members meet each week to dress up in colourful suits with giant fins and swim like mermaids. “It can be a little difficult at first before you get a feel for it and figure out which muscles to use”, says Emma Olsson one of the group’s leaders.
Sweden grieves and a young boy reads from the hundreds of notes posted on the spot where a terrorists hijacked truck crashed into the side of a department store.
When no one seemed interested in hiring a handicapped former Algerian soldier, Antoni Khadraoui decided to open his own gym. Today he ranks among the world’s elite in bodybuilding.
“When I’m on my back doing bench presses I’m as good as anyone. But when I started out I wasn’t allowed to compete because of my disability. That pissed me off,” he says.
Antoni built his gym so that anyone can train there regardless of physical status.
True love never fades away especially not when lovers spend time together in the sauna. Birgitta and Bengt Bohlin, 87 and 86 respectively, met in 1955 when Bengt moved from Boras in the southwest to take a job building hydroelectric plants up north in Birgitta’s native Lapland. It was instant passion, he recalls:
“We found out right away that we had the same interests, the same simple demands on life.”
The photos, all taken after 6pm in the spring, present a diverse portrait of Sweden, from an elderly couple in their sauna to a group of scouts from Syria practicing music.
The crowdfunded book hits the shelves on Tuesday, with the first copy sent to the White House and the next ones to all members of US Congress.
Last night in Stockholm for Markus Falk, a three-year veteran at the tech start-up Lifesum. In just a few hours, the 28-year-old moves to California to open the company’s first US office. Twenty-two nations are represented in the company which started with two brand-new computers and now has 20 million users worldwide. The innovation hotbed that gave the world the adjustable spanner ball bearings and the refrigerator, Sweden has now developed its technology and IT to become world-leading.
A selection of photographs from the book will be shown in an exhibition at Fotografiska (Stockholm, Sweden), 12 September – 29 October, 2017 and a travelling exhibition will be presented at the European Parliament in Brussels.