SUMMER STORIES

Summer Stories is our concept in which five friends of Hope talk about their experience of moving to Sweden, plus their thoughts on culture and traditions.



JULIE DESPAZ ON THE LIGHT-SITUATION

Meet Julie Despraz, co-founder of Alloverse a VR/AR startup. Born in Switzerland, Julie has already lived in several countries, such as France, Italy, Greece and South Africa until meeting her fiancé and deciding to try life in Sweden back in 2017. Since moving for love rather than work, she thought it would be quite hard to find her place in Stockholm but after joining a co-working space upon arrival things work out well.

What have you learned from your experience coming here?

“Sweden is awesome, it’s fast-moving, forward-thinking, innovative and welcoming. I have worked with fantastic people that have truly made my whole life experience in Sweden a million times better. Besides that, the “light-situation” has been super interesting in general. You get to learn a lot about yourself in seeing how you react in periods where it’s really dark and periods where it’s very bright and shorter vs. longer days. It’s such a unique thing, something I’ve never experienced before. It has even gotten me to take on new rituals and health routines which I would have never done in another country, I guess.”

What should Sweden learn from people coming from abroad?

“This is a tough question since I’m from a rather conservative country showing difficulties in welcoming any foreigners (administration, and so on) but I think everyone should welcome different people and cultures and learn from them. I have been lucky to meet fantastic people that have accepted and cherished me as I am.”

What are your hopes for the future?

“That this global chaos we are experiencing right now will somehow lead to something good in the end – the end of racism, a revolutionization of capitalism which will make it better and more equal for everyone, and also, that we all change our lifestyles and stop destroying our planet and its wildlife.”

Please share books, podcast, music, movies, article and documentaries – that you love and has been important to you.

Books: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee have been key in my love for reading, but then I always try to mix fiction and non-fiction, economics and geopolitics. I read a lot in general.

Current podcasts: Recode Decode, On Being from Krista Tippett, The Knowledge Project, La Poudre, Feminvest, Money and Meaning, Making Sense with Sam Harris.

Music: Arum Rae, Vanessa da Mata, Black Coffee, Claire Laffut, HNNY, Raphael Saadiq, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, Herbie Hancock, Nicholas Yee, Alice Boman, Kanye West (early albums), Common, Atmosphere, Lykke Li, Poom.

Movies: Zero Dark Thirty by Kathryn Bigelow.

Documentaries: More of a movie, but still - Dark Waters by Todd Haynes.

Julie is wearing our Trip Shirt in Blue Stripe.



AIDA CONDE ON THE QUIET METRO

Meet Aida Conde, who works with employer branding at the Swedish company, Universum. She describes herself as a strong and beautiful black woman who loves to sing (she sings in the gospel choir Stockholm East Gospel Choir). Growing up, she lived in both Portugal and Mozambique. In August it has been two years since she moved to Sweden. Moving here was a pleasant and unexpected surprise.

“Life happened to take me to Sweden during a night out with friends where I met my boyfriend, who is Swedish. I can say it was just like a movie (at least for me) we crossed eyes, I thought he was gone and then he sat next to me and we talked and that was when all started. After that night we started dating. He was taking his masters in Lisbon and after finishing it and being away from Sweden for a long time he wanted to go back to Sweden to work and be near family and friends. I wanted to join him, was eager to take my Master's and to move to another country so the decision of moving to Sweden came very naturally and what an amazing journey it is still being: I have tried so many different things, challenged myself and am learning so much about me here, next to the person I love.”

How was it to get settled in a new country with different culture and traditions?

“It was easier than I thought but I think it all depends on how each person wants to embrace their journeys. Since the beginning, I really wanted to learn the language, learn about Swedish culture so that made it easier. The hardest part for me was to make a group of friends. I think Swedish people, in general, are more reserved in the beginning but once you are able to spend more time together you have friends for life. I remember one funny moment I had, the first time I took the metro in Stockholm. It was so quiet that my Portuguese soul felt uncomfortable. I wanted to speak to someone or look at people. This, I’ve learned, might be a bit strange to do in the metro in Stockholm. So I called my mom and said: the metro is too quiet, can we talk a little? Unexpectedly, now I love my quiet moments while commuting in Stockholm (the Swedish person in me is very happy right now).”

What’s your opinion on Swedish traditions and rituals and how do they differ from the ones from your home country?

“I love Swedish traditions and rituals. For me, Midsummer and Lucia, are the traditions I love the most and those are very different from the traditions we have in Portugal. In Portugal instead of Midsummer we have Saints celebrations, and we do not really celebrate Lucia. For me midsummer has a lot of magic, people are happy after having a long period of cold and darkness, everyone wants to go their summer houses or just out in nature, and people get so creative. Swedish people are very creative! Games outside, music quizzes, snapsvisor, cooking traditional Swedish food, doing the traditional dances around the midsummer pole, and yes I did the frog dance and I loved it!”

What have you learned from your experience coming here?

“I learned about the amazing ability humans have to adapt. I learned that life always has an amazing way to show us its beauty and takes us to very unexpected places. I also learned that I am stronger than I thought.”

What should Sweden learn from people coming from abroad?

"I think that Sweden can learn to loosen up a bit more sometimes, be more relaxed in a way."

What are your most cherished memories and traditions and why?

“My first Christmas in Moçambique was very special and different. My first Christmas with 30ºC - 40ºC, with no Christmas gifts or tree. It was just my family, spending quality time together, having conversations, talking and sharing memories, singing, dancing, with good food and drinks. It was simple and good as life should be. And proved to me we do not really need so much to be happy. My family loves music, while growing up I always find singing and dancing as a way to express myself. On the weekends my mother always turned on the music and made all of us dance. Those are moments of pure joy and something I value so much and miss."

What are your hopes for the future?

“I am an optimistic person and all I hope for the future is that the world realizes, even more, how in every one of us there is a global citizen, and how important it is that everyone is different but treated equally and fairly. My hope for the future is that each and every one of us can try to contribute by actively doing something to make this world a better place. And it can be the smallest thing, it does not have to be something complicated/complex. I am hopeful that the important conversations that we are having today will lead us to a better, equal and fair world, with no discrimination and informed people. As for the rest, life will always have something to tell us and will guide us through our unique journeys.”

What books, podcasts, music, movies, article and documentaries have been important to you?

The book Becoming by Michelle Obama has been inspiring me through my journey here in Sweden. I was also able to see her here last year! This experience has allowed me to learn a lot about myself. And fully embrace the journey of knowing who I am and becoming me.

My favorite podcasts are HBR, Risk, Therapy for Black Girls and Raseriet.

Moving to Sweden has also allowed me to explore the music made by Swedish artists and wow, how talented they are. I often listen to: Janice, Sabina Dumba, Cherrie, Jireel, Molly Hammar, Fricky, Mwuana.

Aida is wearing our Way Shirt in Black.





MUSTAFA SARWAR ON THE MAGIC OF THE SWEDISH SUMMER

Meet Mustafa Sarwar, Art Director at Hope. Originally from Glasgow, Scotland, Mustafa moved to Sweden in 2018 for work after studying art in Glasgow followed by work as a photographer and Art Director in London. The plan was to try to live and work in Stockholm for a year or so but after a while, he met his partner and Boris (the partners’ dog) and now it looks like he’ll be sticking around.

How was it to get settled in a new country with different cultures and traditions?

I think it took me around 6 months to settle into life here. I moved in the deepest darkest depths of winter and I remember it was -15 degrees one morning and I was a little scared to leave the house. It generally never drops below -5 in Scotland. However, when summer came it was like a revelation. There is something really magical about Swedish summer and the traditions that surround it. Midsommar, kräftskiva, swimming in the lakes around Stockholm, hanging out in parks, drinks in outdoor bars and rooftops terraces, visit the beautiful small towns along the eastern and western coast lines as well as the island of Gotland. It makes the long, dark, cold winters worth it.

I guess the main difference is that many Swedish traditions are rooted in Pagan and Druid cultures whereas many Scottish traditions are of Christian origin but there are some crossovers especially when you consider Scotlands Celtic roots. The main similarity I’ve noticed is when food is involved. For example, Sweden has meatballs and mash, Scotland has Haggis and mash (not quite the same, I know, but there is a similar hearty feel to both dishes). Plus Swedes like to drink almost as much as Scots… almost.

What have you learned from your experience coming here?

I’ve learned that I’m adaptable and capable of adjusting to change. I think I needed to push myself out of my comfort zone to see what I was made of and it has paid off.

What books, podcasts, music, movies, article and documentaries – have been important to you?

I listen to “This American Life” every week. It’s an amazing podcast examining the human condition through fictional stories and real-life accounts set against the backdrop of 20th/21st century USA. Listen here.

I’m rewatching the Sopranos for the 6th time and I love it even more every time I rewatch it.

What are your hopes for the future?

I would love to become a “real Swede” by one day owning a country house AND a boat, because it seems like everyone here has at least one of the two!

Mustafa is wearing our Box Shirt - Off White.





SILVANA LAGOS ON THE FRICTION IN SWEDEN THAT CREATES FEAR

Meet Silvana Lagos, a curator, writer, and Studio Director for the Swedish-based German artist Carsten Höller. Silvana moved to Sweden eight years ago from London to do her Master of Arts (MA) at Konstfack in Stockholm.

After graduation, she continued to stay in Sweden, as she worked with the Sound Festival in Norberg, and was part of a group show at Tensta Konsthall and Malmo Konsthall. She went back and forth from London as she also curated a show at Somerset House in London. It wasn’t until Carsten and Silvana met at a dinner party she became more permanently living in Stockholm, sort of.

“I met Carsten Höller, and it just so happened that he was looking for an assistant at the time. I applied, and have been working with him ever since. We have a dialogue that feeds into each other, and also working on such varied works and shows. Last year we did three solo museum shows, one in Mexico at Museo Tamayo, as well as two openings at the same time, at Copenhagen Contemporary and Kunsten in Aalborg. Oh, and a new year’s trip to Kinshasa Congo, for a screening of his work Fara Fara which looks at the Congolese music clashes – Jamie XX was one of the ones joining us on the trip.

As a curator, I’m fundamentally interested in the structure and formulation of systems – how these systems co-exist, communicate and the spaces created in-between. I’m also concerned with the hidden histories that are silenced from public collective memory, this too, looks at the formulation of information systems, and investigating hidden data within that. The exhibitions and artists I work with fundamentally work within contemporary interdisciplinary processes and their systems be they economic, societal or political, especially, focused on sound and decolonization.”

How was it to get settled in a new country with different cultures and traditions?

“Having grown up with both London and Los Angeles, I have been super fortunate to be around a multitude of multi-cultures and religions even though of course both cities have their clear issues. Moving to Stockholm, Sweden for the first time, I was shocked at the lack of intersectionality. It was the first time that I starting questioning or feeling the friction between these issues, you can see a clear divide. The city is divided into islands which is then clearly fitting water between people. It can also be seen in the class/economic divide, of which people extremely shy away from, or really try to avoid to talk about because there is a massive belief that the system is there to look after all equally when we clearly know that it doesn't. Over the last few weeks, of course, many of us have been talking about BLM, which I think is amazing that finally, these conversations have been taking place. Now it's time to continue these conversations and make some real changes. I want to question; why are there no POC in the art schools, in its curriculums? I want to question; why are there no POC bookers at the small art music events like Norberg Festival or very much nearly every other music festival, it's everywhere in galleries, venues, clubs. I want to question; why Moderna Museet is happy to show “Arthur Jafa” and its body rooted in black activism but not have any POC in its head office? Moderna and culture institutions should be having these conversations, I want to be able to have these conversations in a safe space. I don't see that enough is being done or continues to be done and I want to see better dialogues about this. The problem isn’t far away, it isn’t just in the US, it is in all of us, our taxes pay way towards a system that is oppressive, therefore, we are all contributing towards that oppressive system. I think it is so important to also move away from the “white fragility’ or blame and fear of talking about this. As a POC, one has to deal with the trauma. As a white person, one has to deal with guilt. We need to work through the emotional, to make changes structurally, in true allyship. I mean, for example, with Alexander Bard last weekend, his comments have never been OK, and his particular comments last weekend were just beyond not OK – and together by calling this out, and calling TV4 out, final action was taken, and so it should.”

What have you learned from your experience coming here?

"To have the difficult conversations, always."

What books, podcasts, music or movies have been important to you?

A must-read is this piece about The Guyana-born British artist Frank Bowling, “From the Archives: Frank Bowling on Why It’s Not Enough to Say ‘Black Is Beautiful”. His paintings relate to Abstract expressionism, Color Field painting and Lyrical Abstraction. On 26 May 2005 Bowling was elected a member of England's Royal Academy of Arts. He was among about a dozen artists proposed to fill one of two vacancies in the 80-member academy and is the first Black artist to be elected a Royal Academician in the history of the institution. The text written in 1971, talks about not being allowed to be just an abstract painter, or painter, as an artist of colour, one is always referred to as a ‘black artist’ he also goes into the narrative, of not enough black artists at art school or within curriculums. Read here.

Victoria Eugenia Santa Cruz Gamarra’s spoken word poem Me gritaron negra (1978). Victoria was an Afro-Peruvian choreographer, composer, and activist. She is known for her visual, lyrical poem Me gritaron negra (They Shouted Black At Me), showcased in the exhibition Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985 and at the Brooklyn Museum. This piece became prominent because of its social commentary on race, racism, and prejudice amongst the Latinx community in regards to Afro-Peruvians. Watch here.

Listen to ‘1619,’ a Podcast on how slavery has transformed America, connecting past and present through the oldest form of storytelling. Listen here.

And please follow Ellen Gallagher, whose art explores the issues of race, identity and transformation. Renowned for her reworking of popular black imagery. Follow here.

Silvana is wearing our Elma Short Sleeve Shirt in Blue Check.

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