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THE

FORUMIST

ISSUE 22

Revitalize


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Revitalize Issue 22 As we gradually gain control over our lives, we seem to be at the beginning of the end of a tragic happening beyond our conception or understanding. There is a light shining once more on the horizon of hope and life, like the dawn’s early light as the sun rises in the east over the forest, caressing the leaves on the ground as it ascends to illuminate your face with its healing grace. It’s the start of a new day when anything is possible and achievable if you set your mind to it and if you direct all your senses towards that longing for change and progress. It’s a time of reconsideration and reflection in which to find a new meaning to life. Allow your experiences and the knowledge gained from recent times to send you down this new path. Let’s make a new start with the best elements and energy that come from your belief in a better future. Renew yourself and the world around you by inspiring others and creating milestones in order to build a revitalized future.

COVER PHOTOGRAPHY: OLOF GRIND. STYLING: KARIN SMEDS. HAIR: HASSE NILSSON. MAKE-UP: MARINA ANDERSSON. MODEL: VERONICA MAGGIO. PRODUCER: LAYLA NÉMÉJANSKI FASHION: TOP BY CHRISTIANA HADJIPAPA, TROUSERS BY CHRISTIANA HADJIPAPA, SNEAKERS BY EYTYS

Editor-in-Chief Pejman Biroun Vand (Stockholm) Creative Direction See Studio (London) Beauty Editor Céline Exbrayat (Paris) Paris Editor Victoire Seveno Stockholm Editor Fernando Torres

Lifestyle Editor Tor Bergman (Stockholm) Music Editor Filip Lindström (Stockholm) Art Editor Ted Hammerin (Tallinn) Sub-editor Andrew Lindesay (London) Sustainability Editor Charles Westerberg (Stockholm) Web developer Gustav Bagge (Stockholm)

Contributing Fashion Editors Victoire Seveno (Paris) Karin Smed (Stockholm) Alexandra Conti (Paris) Ellen Elias (Stockholm) Fernando Torres (Stockholm) Masumi Yakuzawa (Tokyo) Joana Mahafaly (Munich) Anna Sundelin (Stockholm) Contributing Photographers Olof Grind (Stockholm) Thierry Lebraly(Paris) Matthieu Delbreuve (Paris) John Scarisbrick (Stockholm) Ryohei Hashimoto (Tokyo) Anton Renborg (Stockholm)

Elisabeth Toll (Stockholm) Nils Löfholm (Stockholm)

Printing MittMedia

Contributing Editors Tor Bergman (Stockholm) Sasika Numan (Stockholm) Filip Lindström (Stockholm) Hannah Magnusson (Stockholm) Charles Westerberg (Stockholm)

Inquiries and online submission info@theforumist.com

The Forumist Store Aleksandra Srndovic (Stockholm)

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publisher. The views expressed in the magazine are those of the contributors and not necessarily shared by the magazine. The Forumist AB Mariagränd 2 116 46 Stockholm SWEDEN info@theforumist.com theforumist.com facebook.com/theforumist instagram.com/theforumist

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PARTY ANIMAL

Celebrate in the only way you know how and party like it’s now Photography by THIERRY LEBRALY Styling by ALEXANDRA CONTI Hair and Make-up by CELINE EXBRAYAT THIS PAGE, ABOVE LEFT: KNITWEAR BY APPAREL OBJECT ATELIER OPPOSITE PAGE: EARRINGS BY DIANA LAW, TURTLE NECK BY VALETTE STUDIO

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TOP: DRESS BY COURREGES, TIGHTS BY DIM ABOVE RIGHT: TRENCH COAT BY KUAN WANG, BOOTS BY DROME, PLASTIC BAGS CREATED BY STYLIST

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THIS PAGE, TOP AND ABOVE LEFT: JACKET BY CORALIE MARABELLE, LEATHER PANTS BY MATERIEL OPPOSITE PAGE: KNITWEAR BY APPAREL OBJECT ATELIER, BAGS BY BOTTER MODEL: LAURA TURKA AT SILENT MODELS

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OUT OF THE BOX

The sonic world of genre-busting French singersongwriter defies categorisation just as much as her sense of fashion does Photography by MATTHIEU DELBREUVE Styling by VICTOIRE SEVENO THIS PAGE: TOTAL LOOK BY KENZO OPPOSITE PAGE: BRA BY AIKOMOTO, SHORT AND SHOES BY MIU MIU, JEWELLERY BY TÉTIER X PREEN

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Every now and then, when the right stars and planets align, a new performer emerges into the ever-changing world of music and art with a certainty and grace worthy of one who has already ruled this world for ages. Paris-based Crystal Murray – whose recent single ‘BOSS’ perhaps describes such an ethereal ascent most fittingly – is just such an artist. She has entered the music world in a manner that says she’s here to stay and to slay, pay her dues and pay no attention to being categorised. “I’m a freak, I’m a ten, I’m a creep, I’m a queen, I’m a riddle, I’m a witch, I’m a lover, Ain’t your girl” are the concluding lyrics of ‘BOSS’, all of which pretty much sum up Crystal’s essence as well as her message. Musically, she belongs to an as yet undefined, genre-less movement establishing itself slowly but surely across Europe, spearheaded by other newly born stars such as Blu Samu and Greentea Peng. The sound carries characteristics of soul, house, jazz, soul, pop and countless other styles, but it cannot be definitively filed under any one of them. You could say that post-modernism finally has embraced the world of music, or you could simply let go of the human instinct for eternal labelling and cultural cataloguing, and just enjoy the ride. “Music you can’t put in a box!” as Crystal Murray puts it herself when asked about her charmingly uncategorizable sound. “My generation is full of different influences” she says. “I don’t want to pick a side, I just wanna bring my energy to the table. I love this word genre-less – I think that’s what we should call all music. My dad is Afro-American, my mom is half French, half Spanish and from the Canary Islands, and as a result I’ve been influenced and see things in so many different ways.” This ability to view the world from different perspectives is totally underrated, and perhaps the younger generation of creators that Crystal belongs to has picked up on that fact. She elaborates the origin of her soundscape and simultaneously comments on a possible foundation for this musical curiosity currently spreading across the continent: “It is important that my music comes from my gut, for it to sound real, and for people to relate to it. My foundation is soul and jazz and as a girl of my generation I go to parties, I meet new people, listen to other sounds, new modern sounds that make me feel my body and make me move so easily that I wanted to link these dual parts of me.” Almost like a modern-day Impressionist painter, Crystal Murray successfully channels her surroundings into her work, which has sounded and felt deeply personal and intimate ever since the release of her 2019 debut single ‘After Ten’. During the two years that have passed since then, a steady stream


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of diverse singles has dropped, showcasing her exploring nature along with her talent for tasty melodies teamed with god-like grooves. So, where does Crystal get her creative fuel and her seemingly endless flow of inspiration? She is, she says, empowered and revitalized by her friends and collaborators. “I feel like the more I bring different people, minds and artists together, the more I’m growing in my own sound,” she says. “To have new influences around me – essentially, I am constantly revitalizing my influence with the people around me and who I give my time to.” For someone so utterly attentive to her immediate cultural environment, one might think that Crystal is susceptible to trends overall, which she flatly denies. “I really try not to be. It is so important for me to do, create, make and look like something new and to always stay true to myself and who I am in each moment.” And appreciating others while staying true to oneself is probably a clue to the simple secret behind her elusive yet attainable artistry – Crystal’s constant on-point fashion sense also speaks to her knack of playing with influences, puzzling together pieces of herself with visual elements. “I’ve been into clothes since I was a little girl and the fact that I can really draw a persona with the way I look and have fun with it is what I enjoy the most,” she says when asked about her thoughts on the connection between music and fashion. The level of freedom in Crystal’s expression is undeniably evident when she explains her upcoming EP, the follow-up to last year’s statement piece ‘I Was Wrong’. “My next EP will be called Twisted Bases because I twisted my bases,” she says. “I took what I knew and put them into things I didn’t know, like alternative rock, electronic, UK garage, and sonics that you can listen to without lyrics. I really worked on the production of every single instrumental, then worked on the melodies and lyrics second. The next project can’t be put in a box, but you can box the tracks up in boxes of emotion.” The new Crystal Murray EP marks a significant moment in her career; as Crystal herself says, “I’m actually very proud of this project, because I can see in it the evolution of my own growth and experience from my first project.” So, twist your bases and join Crystal Murray on the next step of her genre-less evolution. @crystalmrr

OPPOSITE PAGE: TOP BY FRIDA JŌE (IFM PARIS), EARRING BY VANESSA SCHINDLER THIS PAGE: DRESS BY MUGLER, BRA BY LOU DE BÈTOLY, BRACELET BY ACNE STUDIOS, EARRING BY D’HEYGERE, NECKLACES BY JUSTINE CLENQUET

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OPPOSITE PAGE: BODY BY KESAKO, SUSPENDER BELT BY FIFI CHACHNIL, BAG BY LANVIN, KNEE SOCKS BY FALKE THIS PAGE: SOCKS BY VINTAGE, SHOES BY MIU MIU MAKE-UP: CÉLINE EXBRAYAT AT CALL MY AGENT HAIR: KEVIN ROUX STYLIST’S ASSISTANTS: ANJA MATOUG AND ELOISE RONCONE PHOTOGRAPHER’S ASSISTANT: ANGELA DI PALO

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AT FULL

STRETCH

Still only at the beginning of their careers, three Swedish musicians Omar Rudberg, Jireel and Greekazo have already achieved success. Now, released from the constraints of the past year, they are rushing once more toward their futures Words by FILIP LINDSTRÖM Photography by JOHN SCARISBRICK Styling by FERNANDO TORRES Here we stand before three young Swedish musicians who in their own ways tell the story of climbing to unbelievable heights. Coming from three different backgrounds, dabbling in three different genres, Omar Rudberg, Jireel and Greekazo have all managed to reach fame and recognition at a very early age. Not one of these three modern day marvels has yet reached the age of 25 (Greekazo is 20 years old, Jireel is 21 and Omar 22) but have already been in the public eye for years. Jireel, the smooth hip-hop vocalist, whose flows over characteristically suave beats have landed him a Swedish Grammy (among other prizes), has been dubbed one of the most promising performers on the Scandinavian music scene today. Greekazo had countless international listeners trying to decipher his Swedish shocking bars about chocolate bars in his decadent anthem ‘FÖRSENT’ (‘Too late’) when the song was featured in the Netflix smash-hit series Snabba Cash. Omar has reached fans worldwide as a member of neo-boy band FO&O, f.k.a. The Fooo Conspiracy, and is now turning a new page with a solo project and a blossoming acting career that started with a part in another Netflix hit show, Young Royals. Omar Rudberg feels most at home on stage, which is where he longs to be after this past year of hopelessness. “I finally want to release a lot of music,” he says enthusiastically. “I want to revitalize myself as an artist, live on phat stages where I can feel the adrenaline again!” Omar has not always been this certain about being the centre of attention, but in a way that feeling might have steered him to where he is today. “In school, I was an outsider,” Omar says. “I don’t know if I’m an outsider anymore, but I can still sometimes feel like one. It has impacted me in both a good and a bad way. The good thing about it is that I have focused on chasing my dreams.” Since then, Omar has succeeded both in music – with FO&O and as a solo artist – and as an actor in teen drama Young Royals. He says he is “grateful for getting a leading part in a Netflix show that has become an international hit. It has affected my music through millions of fans beginning to follow me, being interested in who I am and what kind of music I make. Now, I have a lot of people waiting for new music from me. I wouldn’t have believed it if you told me that during the summer of 2020.” The second season of Young Royals premières in 2022, but right now Omar says, “I’m focusing on my music”. In ‘FÖRSENT’, Greekazo raps about being too late to catch a train that has already left. If you take the train from ’kazo’s suburb, Hässelby, to the opposite end of the Stockholm green metro line, you will eventually end up in Rågsved. That’s where Jireel is from. To the inexperienced hip-hop fan, Greekazo’s tunes might sound similar to Jireel’s, but as ’kazo says: “It’s time for the establishment to recognise us as artists, and not always put all hip-hoppers in the same category.” There are nuances to the music, and when you listen closely you can clearly hear the difference between the two rappers. Jireel’s sensitive, emotional sound has achieved its form step by step, and this gradual change is noticeable across the four albums he has released since 2017. “I think my personal development takes place in my music,” he says. “The success also contributes to my personal growth, since I write about things I experience and see.”

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Omar WEARS THIS PAGE: JACKET AND HAT BY STAND STUDIO TROUSERS BY BLANK ATELIER SHOES BY VAGABOND OPPOSITE PAGE: JACKET BY BLK DNM SHOES BY J. LINDERBERG TROUSERS BY BLANK ATELIER

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Commenting on his genre’s extreme accomplishments in Scandinavia in recent years, Jireel says: “I believe Swedish hip-hop will surpass itself and continue to break down the barriers you’ve believed to be unbreakable. Hip-hop will continue to be a strong genre in Sweden, and I think we can expect lots of artists going international.” Jireel describes his latest album, 1953, as “a very personal and dark project about my family”. It seems like he gathers strength from his family and his close friends, all of whom have played their parts in his success. “They have helped me by always being themselves, being a hundred per cent honest towards me. I don’t have a bunch of ‘yes men’ around me who just say what I want to hear – I have friends and family who say what I need to hear.” Looking forward to getting back on the road, Jireel says he has devoted the past year revitalizing his live show, taking it to the next level. “I think people will be shocked when they see what we have to offer.” Greekazo, the gritty street poet representing Stockholm suburb Hässelby (“Wherever I end up, Hässelby is and will always be my home,” he says), sucker punches holes in provocative punchlines like there’s no tomorrow, pestering Swedish moralisers who are unable to understand his obvious societal function. For the most part, Greekazo is the truth teller Sweden might not deserve but the one it needs, a small stroke on the canvas of possibility. In lyrics packed like a Big Mac with millennial references, ’kazo is brutally honest about his light-shy endeavours, because that’s what suburban reality looks like today. Like one of the songs off his latest album 6TON5 states, this young rapper does not, in fact, give a fuck. Greekazo is not too late, nor is he too early. As it seems, he has hit Sweden at the exact right time.

Jireel WEARS THIS PAGE: COAT BY HOPE SHIRT AND TROUSERS BY ADNYM ATELIER SHOES BY AXEL ARIGATO JEWELLERY BY JIREEL OPPOSITE PAGE: JACKET AND JEANS BY PARIS RE MADE T-SHIRT BY FILIPPA K SHOES BY VAGABOND

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“Today, I can be more personal in my lyrics than I could before” ’kazo says about his artistic progress since his debut at an early age. “I have developed my sound and dared to try new things, like singing, for example. That would have been completely inconceivable two years ago.” After his rapid start in the music business, launched when his very first single ‘HotSpot’ made him the hot new talent, there are still no signs of Greekazo pausing for breath. “This last year, I’ve been locked up in the studio, trying to create new music. When I lost my first summer tour, it was a real backlash and I became unmotivated for a while. Playing live is the great driving force for me as an artist. I love being on tour.”

Greekazo WEARS: THIS PAGE: JACKET BY WOOLRICH ARMY HOODIE BY TIMBALAND TROUSERS AND SHOES BY AXEL ARIGATO OPPOSITE PAGE: FULL LOOK BY AXEL ARRIGATO HAIR: JESPER HALLIN AT MIKAS LOOKS MAKE-UP: ELVIRA BRANDT ASSISTANT: KEN MOGEKWU LOCATION AND SPECIAL THANKS TO FÖRSTORINGSATELJEN

Whatever the future holds, it seems bright when you start out as early and as strongly as Jireel, Greekazo and Omar Rudberg. @officialomar; @jireellavia; @greekazo

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SPIRITED AWAY

Lose yourself in a surreal world where tradition meets the present, and be free Photography by RYOHEI HASHIMOTO Styling by MASUMI YAKUZAWA THIS PAGE: COAT BY MIKAGE SHIN, SKIRT BY TOGA X DICKIES, NECKLACE AND SHOES BY TOGA PULLA, RING BY FLAKE OPPOSITE PAGE: COAT BY PILLINGS

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OPPOSITE PAGE: DRESS BY PILLINGS THIS PAGE, TOP LEFT: TOP BY MIKAGE SHIN, DRESS BY AKIKOAOKI, EARCUFF BY CRITICAL: LAB, SHOES BY ARLETTE LILY, NECKLACE BY FLAKE TOP RIGHT: COAT AND SHOES BY TOGA PULLA, CORSET BY KENGO KAWANO, HAT BY VEGE ABOVE LEFT: TOP BY AKIKOAOKI, KNIT BY PILLINGS, PANTS BY KENGO KAWANO ABOVE RIGHT: TOP BY MIKAGE SHIN, DRESS BY AKIKOAOKI, EARCUFF BY CRITICAL:LAB, NECKLACE BY FLAKE HAIR: KENJI IDE MAKE-UP: MARIKO SUZUKI MODEL: KOVICH AT MODELS.COM

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Being Human Climate change and the coronavirus pandemic have shown that humanity’s presence on this planet can be precarious. But, as a recent exhibition in Ålesund has shown, art is capable of revealing how we can better understand our role in the natural world Words by HANNAH MAGNUSSON

Shock, utter shock was all she could feel while standing inside the exhibition space. She was listening to the guide who was speaking Mandarin while surrounded by human foetuses in glass containers. The year was 1986 and Tove Lande was backpacking through China, and on that day she was visiting an art exhibition about human abortions. Completely unprepared for the experience, it made such an impact on her that she’s carried it with her since. “It collided with my perception of what it means to be a human – what a human can be,” Tove, a curator at the KUBE museum in Ålesund in Norway, recalls. “It was a highly unusual experience to have in the 1980s and it left me thinking: how do we treat humans, both the alive and the non-living?” Decades later and the question remains just as relevant. Although one could argue that humans have never had it better than they do today, our rise has brought with it a massive exploitation of our natural surroundings. With rising temperatures and sea levels, extreme weather events and, most recently, a global pandemic, many of us are seeing clearly that human 28

(co)existence is at not only at risk, but also not at the centre of the universe. “We are realising how insignificant the human race is in the total picture of the world. Humanity is no longer at the top of the pyramid, controlling the world next to God. We are just a part of the bigger picture and have to climb down,” Tove says. As we transition into a post-pandemic age and, arguably, a post-humanist era, what does it mean to be human? The KUBE museum’s recent exhibition, ‘Am I Human to You?’, seeks to highlight the many possible answers to the age-old philosophical question posed by the show’s title. Featuring the works of John Akomfrah, Per Inge Bjørlo, Anders Holen, Harminder Judge, Amy Karle, William Kentridge, Lawrence Lek, Britt Sorte and Liv Dysthe Sønderland, the exhibition’s unique juxtapositions create spaces for new interpretations and ideas. “I wanted to be able to communicate with members of the public regardless of what relationship they might have to art, and to do so in a way that is accessible and inclusive. The artworks themselves are

easy to understand and interpret in their context,” Tove adds. Artist, Anders Holen investigates humanity’s place in the world through Agent (2017), an installation of seven sculptures described in the exhibition’s catalogue as “a still life of science fiction-esque pieces in the guise of anatomical fragments and human mouths that contain extinct flower species”. “I always work from a place where I try to see things from different angles,” Holen says, “establishing a point of view where I can see one thing as multiple possible other things. One thing is always another thing, too.” The works are magnetised, creating a physical relationship between the objects. The magnetic field of the earth plays a key role, contributing to a sort of equilibrium between them. Inspired by objectoriented ontology, a philosophy that views people as one of many active and equal agents amongst all living things. From this perspective, humankind is no longer a species superior to other forms of life. “As of now,” Hoelen says, “it seems we are moving

THIS PAGE, TOP, FROM LEFT: THE ARTIST PER INGE BJØRLO AT WORK IN HIS STUDIO; AND HIS WORKS WELCOME HOME (2021) AND WE ARE ALL SAILORS AND WOMEN LEFT BEHIND (2019). ABOVE LEFT: DOOM LOOP (2019) BY ANDERS HOLEN ABOVE RIGHT: WORKS BY HOLEN AT THE ASTRUP FEARNLEY MUSEUM, OSLO. OPPOSITE PAGE, TOP: SELF PORTRAIT (AFTER KALI AND GENE) (2009) BY HARMINDER JUDGE; I, I, (2019), I, IIIII (ANN CATHRIN NOVEMBER HOIBO) (2019), AND I, IIIIII (URD J. PEDERSEN) (2019) BY ANDERS HOLEN; PER INGE BJØRLO; CENTRE: AGENT (2017) BY ANDERS HOLEN; BOTTOM: REGENERATIVE RELIQUARY, (2016) BY AMY KARLE; AIDOL (2019) BY LAWRENCE LEK


towards a place where the human vulnerability is being devaluated as something time-consuming, expensive and, obviously, deadly. It will be interesting to see how these properties will be dealt with in the future. If we get to a place where vulnerability is rare, a place where human beings no longer define the hierarchy, perhaps it will transform into something precious. Until then, we will probably keep on terraforming everything.” Fellow exhibitor, Per Inge Bjørlo, is one of Norway’s most prominent artists, recognised for his pioneering installations. “Nature is at breaking point as a result of our exploitation in exchange for material needs and political power,” he explains, “but we are totally dependent on it – so nature is just as important in all alterations. We are existing at its mercy.” The notion of humans as a destructive force is something Bjørlo reflects upon in his 2019 installation included in the exhibition, – and the wounds grow in all of us, in which he visualises the wounds humans give each other and the natural world through a technique of carving, etching, burning and printing. “My work fumbles around under the pressure of our time that we’re all taken captive by,” he says. “A confusion derived from connections running through historic layers of genetics to our everyday life towards the open space that concludes it all. An examination of feelings and ethics, the eternal questions that in flashes can give an answer.” While his work is open to individual interpretation, the images can be read as an expression of sorrow, pain and anger. “In this perspective art will always be important – because art is the biggest metaphor for insight and comprehension for us all.” Art does indeed have the unique ability to handle difficult and painful questions of our time, our past and our future. With self-isolation, lockdowns and closed borders, a less smog-filled sky has shone brighter, humans have realised the value of physical connection and contact. Simultaneously, the darker sides of the our existence emerge, with the mindset of ‘us and them’ crawling across our lit screens and seeping into our digitally vulnerable minds; with the uneven global distribution of vaccines that has privileged the Western world; and racial and social inequalities scream louder than ever. It all leaves us wondering if, in an attempt to revitalize a postpandemic world, should we revive humanist ideals? “Looking at humanism historically, it’s not as inclusive as it claims to be. If we are going to continue to exist on this planet, I’d rather we think anew, together, with a new economy and a new direction. My wish is that we can start to create an experience of change, one that includes other people and other existences on this earth,” Tove says. Perhaps we aren’t meant to rule this world. Clearly, there is no single, simple answer to these complex questions. However, a good place to start might just be in the halls of an art exhibition where diverse installations invite us to pause for just a moment – a moment in which we are face to face with difficult topics, in which we navigate questions we otherwise wouldn’t have asked. And maybe, just maybe, we can spark a conversation with a stranger next to us with whom we wouldn’t otherwise have spoken. jugendstilsenteret.no

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POWER TRIP

On the eve of the launch of her first album in nine years, Swedish pop diva Agnes speaks with The Forumist about overcoming the past, personal growth and drag queens Words by FILIP LINDSTRÖM Photography by ELISABET TOLL Styling by ANNA SUNDELIN THIS PAGE: SUIT JACKET BY NIKLAS GUSTAVSSON OPPOSITE PAGE: BOOTS BY STEVE MADDEN, SUIT BY ACNE STUDIOS, EARRINGS BY PANTOLIN

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After a promising international career led to a few years outside of the spotlight, Swedish singer Agnes has resurfaced with a brand new energy, a new sound and what seems like a new mindset that merges nightlife celebration with spiritual awareness. Striving to unite and conquer, this newly born disco-diva version of Agnes has since her triumphant return blessed the soon-to-be back to normal dance floors of the world with bangers like ‘24 Hours’ and ‘Fingers Crossed’ – death-dropping tracks that explain to us that it is perfectly possible to think and dance simultaneously, while caring immensely about the well-being of fellow dancers. “I have come back after a pretty long break from music, or rather from the public eye,” Agnes says, explaining her recently ended absence from the limelight. “Why I took this break is because I clearly felt that I needed to grow as a person, but also as a creative being. I was so tired of the image I had of myself; regarding what I thought I was able to do and not do, it was so narrow. The insights I’ve gained reflect how important it is to continue to expose yourself to new things, to allow yourself to be constantly inspired and to dare to reflect about what it is you do. I have realised what a fantastic job I have, where a part of it is twisting and turning everything and using that in the music. That gives me meaning.” In ‘24 Hours’, a heart-warming firecracker of a song, Agnes chants the words, “Choose your future”. The choices she herself has made in order to reach the point of self-awareness she inhabits today have revolved around valuing independent creativity in combination with open-hearted collaboration – seeing one’s own imaginative strength while understanding it can grow through the help of others. Sure, it may sound simple, but practice and theory are entirely different things in such a case. Being true to and believing in oneself is a message that this ‘new’ Agnes is keen to get across. “Unfortunately, I have realised that some of the worst things I have been through are the ones that have made me grow the most,” she says. “I need to do something that gives me meaning. What is meaningful to me is when I feel that I connect with other



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people, when you can show your wounds and heal each other. It’s so easy, as an artist, to become full of yourself – your performance, being the best – but when I get too eaten by that, I lose my truth and the meaning in what I do.” Star American drag queen and modern icon RuPaul recently shared the video for ‘24 Hours’ on Twitter, which Agnes says was “Magical! I feel such love and respect for him” – a shout-out from him of all people was very special. RuPaul’s fanbase, the ever-growing drag community, seems to have taken to Agnes’s music even before their hero mentioned her song, and the affection is mutual, and influences from this world are apparent in her new sound. “I feel, and have always felt, connected to drag culture,” Agnes says. “I think there are several reasons. A part of me is drag. My artistry is much about strengthening or lifting sides of myself, I do it through the music but also through the aesthetics. I want to create songs that make me feel indestructible. I also feel connected to drag, because I think that if you use it as your expression, it is inevitable not to make the Trip, as I call it. RuPaul has made the Trip, with a capital T. You dig deep inside yourself. Anyone who has done that, I feel connected with.” Apart from mother Ru, Agnes lists other influences as diverse as free jazz legend Sun Ra, the glorious Solange, fashion mastermind Diana Vreeland and Swedish spiritual painter Hilma af Klint. This wide appreciation and understanding of music and art goes well with the open mindedness that colours her own new work. Speaking of spirituality, she calls her sound “spiritual disco”, and she confirms that the vibe on her two latest singles is indeed representative of her upcoming full-length album, which is in the works right now. “Disco to me is liberation. Being able to talk about life’s issues and being uplifted at the same time.” Fans on Instagram have speculated on the album being titled Magic Still Exists, a phrase that Agnes could very well utter herself, judging from her answers in this interview. Anything she adores, she calls “magical” – so of course magic still exists! “I think much of what fuels my music comes from a time during my teens,” Agnes says. “I was excluded for many years, and at that age I had a hard time talking about it. I just wanted to fit in, to be a part of a community. Is there anything more shameful than being the one who is not included? As a teenager, there isn’t. It took me quite a few years before I could deal with it and put it into words, but now I know what it feels like to not be accepted for who I am. As an adult, I look back at it and can see the big picture, but I still have wounds. Through meditation, I have gone back in time and changed horrible memories. Changed cold to warmth. Understanding and unity is that warmth.” After these strange times we have lived through, Agnes’s point of view is necessary and healthy. “I don’t think there will be any problem revitalizing culture after the pandemic,” she says. “I believe a lot of people will realise how important it is after these months. It’s what dots the i’s, it’s the key to the great magic. For me, these past months have been okay, I’m grateful that I got to spend more time in the studio. I will keep on working the way that I have. We’ll revitalize everything, slowly but surely.” @agnesofficial PREVIOUS SPREAD, LEFT: DRESS BY ELIN MEIJER; RIGHT: KNITTED DRESS BY THE WOW CLOSET, PONCHO DRESS BY RAEWINGTON THIS PAGE, TOP: SKIRT AND JACKET BY NICKLAS SKOVGAARD, RING BY SOPHIE BY SOPHIE; ABOVE: DRESS AND SHOES BY CHRISTIAN DIOR OPPOSITE PAGE: DRESS BY LOUISE XIN COUTURE HAIR: JESPER HALLIN/MIKAS LOOKS MAKE-UP: JOHANNA NORDLANDER STYLIST’S ASSISTANT: NAMFON PHETSUT PHOTOGRAPHER’S ASSISTANT: MARTIN SIMONIC DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: ALBAN JUSUFI EDITOR/CO-ORDINATION: PEJMAN BIROUN VAND THANK YOU FOR THE STUDIO @GULD.FABRIKEN

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DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES

Four Swedish female singers have wrangled their creativity out of difficult times and in their own genres have each discovered the positive to be found in music and life Words by FILIP LINDSTRÖM Photography by ANTON RENBORG Styling by ELLEN X

Eclectic entertainer Jenny Wilson, groovy gospel giver Janice, post-punk preacher Nicole Sabouné, and state-of-the-art soul singer Seinabo Sey – these four very different Swedish performers have one thing in common: they have all released excellent new music during this past year, works that share introspective qualities and uplifting messages wrapped in relentlessly realistic writing. Jenny Wilson’s seventh full length album, Mästerverket (The Masterpiece), is her second in Swedish and her most revealing and self-examining one to date. Janice has put out singles ‘Let It Rain’ and ‘Magic’ from her new EP Feelings Unresolved, songs that offer a warm embrace and reassurance that even the toughest turns can be passed and forgotten. Nicole Sabouné’s 2021 album Attachment Theory, her first since 2015 debut album Miman, deals with rootlessness in entrancing heavy ballads that bring greats like Nick Cave and Siouxsie Sioux to mind. And Seinabo Sey’s EP Sweet Life marks her finding of both herself and a more harmonic way to approach music and the life that surrounds it.

Jenny Wilson has not only released Mästerverket

this year, but also produced Nicole’s Attachment Theory. The duo is a surprising match made in heaven. “Jenny, beloved Jenny,” Nicole says affectionately. “She has as much a part of this album as I do. Jenny is the best we have in Sweden, and in my opinion absolutely unique internationally.” “On Mästerverket, I reflect and reason regarding how things have gone the way they have, how one thing led to another in a dark downward spiral that took place during nearly a decade,” Jenny explains. “I look at repellent feelings like shame and loneliness, trying to understand and to forgive myself and the world I’m living in. But, during this wandering, there’s always hope of illumination, like safety reflectors in the dark.” Jenny has spent this precarious pandemic period making music at an impressive pace, probably in part due to the isolation. “I liked the feeling of being more by myself, and I finished three whole albums from scratch,” she says. “I quit drinking alcohol in early 2020, so in many ways it was helpful that all nightlife was shut down, and I could do things that were good for me instead.” Just like Attachment Theory, Mästerverket dwells on difficult topics, but manages to point out a stream of light breaking through the thick clouds. “Just as on all my albums, I have used my most personal experiences as material for the lyrics,” Jenny says. “The record ends in what I would call ‘lightening’. Not euphoria, not obvious happiness, but a ‘lightening’…” THIS PAGE: BLAZER BY NIKLAS GUSTAVSSON, PANTS BY BEWIDER, EARRINGS BY IOAKU, RINGS BY IOAKU OPPOSITE PAGE: TOP BY ROBIN SÖDERHOLM

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THIS PAGE: LEATHER JACKET AND DRESS BY SIRI GERTONSSON, EARRINGS BY STARSTUDIO OPPOSITE PAGE: DRESS BY SIRI GERTONSSON EARINGS BY IOAKU

Janice Kavander, who is better known as just

Janice, is well aware of the healing power of music. “For me, music has been a great salvation for rainy days and difficult periods in life,” says Janice. “During my grieving after the passing of my father, music opened me up to being able to talk about what I felt I couldn’t articulate for a long time. I believe that music’s healing power is enormous.” When listening to her song ‘Let It Rain’, and the rest of the Feelings Unresolved EP, you can both hear and feel this restorative power washing over you like a rebirthing flood, a catharsis of sorts. Resolving these feelings is what Janice calls “a work in progress”, involving the dissection and inspection of the emotions at hand. “I have spent this rainy year reflecting a lot about what the past years have been like, about what I want to say and mediate with my music,” she says. “I have also thrown myself out there and done things I’ve only dreamt of. I see the light so strongly, it might already be here? I don’t think I have ever been this ready to show much more of myself.”


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Nicole Sabouné, whose Attachment Theory

shows tremendous artistic development, paired with her growth as a person, says the years since her last album “have really been a journey” that has given her new perspectives on her attempts to revitalize her self-confidence. “I feel like I’ve become calmer and braver,” Nicole claims. “Some say you get less brave with time, but to me it has been the opposite way. I’ve dared to ask for help, dared to be vulnerable, and I think that might be reflected in the lyrics and the melodies in a way that it hasn’t before. I feel clearer now, to myself.” Though sometimes bleak in tone, the subjects on Attachment Theory are tackled in a manner that I believe can help calm a listener’s anxieties, thanks to Nicole’s memorable and relatable lyrics – and her genuinely emotional performance. The album feels like it can take care of someone in need. “That’s wonderful!” Nicole says when I share this reaction. “To me,” she continues, “this album has been just that.” Maybe that’s why Attachment Theory works in this way for the listener, because Nicole herself has found it personally helpful while working on it. “To me, music that feels completely right in the moment is crucial, helping me out of situations, boosting both laughter and tears or raising selfconfidence – music that feels certain and uncompromising,” she says, also pointing out that she has tried to portray both light and dark angles on her album’s subjects, doing her best to turn “the ugly into something playful and pretty, but also letting the sad and the crestfallen remain the way it is.”

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Seinabo Sey says she has learned a lot about herself in the past year, during which she has put out laid-back feel-good EP Sweet Life, and managed to keep herself going by reaching a tranquillity in her everyday life. Looking at the title of one of Seinabo’s hit songs from a few years back, such as ‘Hard Time’, and comparing it to the songs on Sweet Life, one could say the transition into serenity is clearly seen in her music. “I almost can’t separate my life and my music anymore,” Seinabo says when I ask her about the part music has played in her getting to know herself better. “Music is everything, but at the same time, it’s nothing if I’m not feeling well. My music is only as good as I’m feeling. I think I’m more focused on what makes me truly happy now, than I’ve been before.” Seinabo’s new, sweet life seems deeply connected to personal peacefulness and freedom, visible of course also in her work. “Freedom to me is choosing love before pride, and making all life decisions based on that,” she says, her voice draped in a wise calm that soothes the soul. Could it be that this past year’s hardships and setbacks have forced us all into necessary self-reflection? Judging from Jenny’s, Janice’s, Nicole’s and Seinabo’s new masterpieces, this seems to be the case – and music is often the key in such an evaluation of the self. @jennywilson_official; @janice.this; @nicolesaboune; @seinabosey


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Possible Futures In a time of revitalization, three artists – Victoria Verseau, Salad Hilowle and Theresa Traore Dahlberg – talk about what the future promises as they emerge from a time of reflection and seclusion Words by SASIKA NUMAN Photography by NILS LÖFHOLM

THIS PAGE (CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT): VICTORIA VERSEAU WEARS LEGGINGS AND TOP BY CHRISTIANA HADJIPAPA; A BODY OF GHOSTS (2018) BY VICTORIA VERSEAU; TRANSITIONS (2021) AND COPPERS (2019) BY THERESA TRAORE DAHLBERG OPPOSITE PAGE (FROM TOP): SALAD HILOWLE WEARS BURBERRY INSIDE-OUT TRENCH BY PARIS RE MADE, T-SHIRT BY SUPER GOOD, AND THE ARTIST’S OWN HAT; THERESA TRAORE DAHLBERG WEARS A BLAZER BY OLIVER OPPERMANN; VANUS LABOR (2021) BY SALAD HILOWLE

To revitalize: to revive, to resurrect, to rejuvenate, renew, even invigorate. The term can be applied to everything from the natural sciences and technology to fashion, beauty, culture (most definitely) and, for the purposes of this article, the visual arts. I had the opportunity to ask three inspiring artists about their views on the concept of revitalization and their insights into the future, both personally and artistically. We also spoke about the time spent during the past two years or so creating and upholding their artistic practices during a global pandemic. What struck me was their optimism and excitement for a life altered by this stretch of time. The three artists – Victoria Verseau, Salad Hilowle and Theresa Traore Dahlberg – each have very different and distinct approaches to their artistic practices and to art making in general. What brings them together for this interview series is my genuine fascination with how, through sculpture, installation and filmmaking, they create narratives in which they tell stories with great depth and agency. Wanting to gaze into the future, but perhaps at times to throw off the shackles of conformity for the freedom of adventure, is very appealing after what has felt like an incredibly long hiatus in the course of normal human interaction. Despite the world being paused, so much has happened, so much has been created. The constant stream of artistic output continued… and it bears fruit. Here the artists share their view of what is to come, while giving us a glimpse of what they’ve accomplished during these extraordinary times. Understanding the intricacies of Victoria’s practice are in tandem with understanding who she is as a person. She writes and directs film as part of her artistic practice, which is very much engaged with

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themes such as identity and otherness. There is clearly a deep-seated quest for this artist to explore constructs of gender, and the importance of memory, along with the concept of the private voice via the collective public experience. Interested in understanding what the concept or idea of revitalization means to these artists, I first pressed conceptual sculptor and filmmaker Victoria on what she immediately thinks of when hearing the word. Speaking candidly, she tells me, “I think of many different phenomena in my life when thinking about revitalization. However, what I come to think of the most is the transition I went through from boy to woman, from one life to another. This took a toll on me but at the same time I realised a dream and achieved what I’d always wanted. A rebirth or revival of my old ‘boy-self ’ has taken place during the years after the transition, a self that had long been dormant. It isn’t one significant event, but a process that has been going on for a long time, a slow movement. It made me live. From trying to live stealthily, where many aspects of one’s personality need to be suppressed or hidden away, to now letting these different ways of experiencing converge and become one.” Fascinated by how Victoria finds inspiration in the very layered concept she is engrossed in, as well as what truly influences the artist on a more personal level, she answers me empathetically: “Many things. My life, memories and experiences inspire me to make works that deal with (my) history. The journey of memory between the mind and the world of objects and places; how stories about life come to be; and what is left out and forgotten are recurring themes that I work with. Ideas and inspiration come to me when I am in motion.” Victoria identifies with a restlessness, abated by travel, which she describes as freeing. Excited, she explains, “Since I was little, when I first became aware of reality and the world I lived in, I have been interested in what lies beneath the surface of that reality, right next to everyday life.” Have certain events shaped the artist? Are there memories she revisits? “What I now understand that I discovered as a lonely six-year-old in the woods was probably exactly what we do not have words or language for, the atmospheric and photosensitive,” she says. “This was such a strong experience that I think it became a trauma that has been with me ever since. There are oceans of psychological and unknown worlds that can

sometimes be felt as a presence in everyday life. I believe, hope, but also doubt that they exist.” In her own words, she wants to create a dissolved boundary between life and death, when she is able, through her artistic practice, to approach a sharp and at times dazzling and perhaps other worldly reality. Through her art she aims to capture, preserve and reconstruct the transient memories from the crucial times that shaped her. When asked if she is excited about the prospect of new beginnings, Victoria is optimistic, or, as she puts it, “ambivalently excited”. She muses, “I am a person who is drawn to the unknown, and I find meaning in what we cannot predict, explain, or have not yet discovered, that which we can only imagine.” Investigating the relationship between fact and fiction, and the rewriting of history, artist Salad Hilowle has previously researched and made work focused on the depiction of the Afro-Swedish persona in Swedish art history. His latest project, Vanus Labor, is an exploration in the art historical context from which the African diaspora often finds itself omitted. Fascinated by Salad’s detail-oriented practice, I want to understand the artist’s approach to the concept of revitalization. “As an artist who works with the theme memory, it means going back into history and presenting another alternative,” he says. “I am going back and trying to present the unforgotten history in a new context.” Enthused by the possibility of new beginnings, Salad explains, “I think the art world needs a new beginning. Looking at how it’s been going, it really needed a new beginning.” The past two years have allowed Salad more time to reflect. “It meant I had more time to focus. I hope this process of slowing down has been good for my practice. I want to be an artist who can make work for a long time, I’m in it for the long haul. That means some of this process allows me to take time for myself, personally,” he says. The artist firmly believes in the possibilities of revitalization, especially regarding how Western, in this case Swedish, society tackles its own relationship with art history. Salad explains further, “I believe we’re in need of revitalization. Vanus Labor is proof of that. We need to revitalize Swedish art history.” Salad is inspired by artists from earlier generations. Recently he has been gaining inspiration from “forgotten artists from the 1960s and 70s


in Sweden,” with a distinct focus on Afro-Swedish artists such as Fatima Ekman, Ibrahim Abdulkadir to name just two, as well as the American artist Martin Puryear, who studied at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts in Stockholm. Theresa Traore Dahlberg works with the medium of film, exploring complex narratives including memory, identity and interpretation. Not dissimilar to Victoria and Salad, Theresa’s work features film quizzically expanding the notion of documentary filmmaking, which she pairs with sculptures and installations where the material is a focal point. Depicting the fate of the people she documents, Theresa is conscious of the socio-economic and political environments she finds herself in, translating this awareness to the work she produces, as well as throughout her work. When asked about what she associates with the concept of revitalization, the artist answers, “I think of rain and reconsideration. I think of a process that I am in now, researching and discovering part of my history and redefining it in a new time and context.” Excited by the prospect of starting up again, Theresa defines the feeling as one of “new beginnings”. The artist is currently working on a project that was initiated with recordings of her grandmother’s stories and a bronze hare she found in the archives of Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm. Eager to explore new frontiers within her art, Theresa explains, “I am now exploring the world of scents and its possibilities to recreate specific memories. I’m trying new materials and techniques, and spending time developing ideas always gives me a feeling of going into the unknown, which sparks my curiosity.” The artist is inspired and moved by anything that raises questions, even in everyday situations. With constant attention to “changes and choices”, as Theresa puts it when describing her belief that our society is in need of change and revitalization, she tells me assertively, “We need to reconsider, and find ways to imagine possible futures”. @victoriaverseau; @slicksalart; @theresatraoredahlberg

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RIDING HIGH

For the past decade and a half, Veronica Maggio has dominated the Swedish pop scene with her songs’ irresistible mix of melancholy and big choruses. As she records her seventh album, she tells The Forumist about the effect her music has on her fans and the importance of change Words by FILIP LINDSTRÖM Photography by OLOF GRIND Styling by KARIN SMEDS THIS PAGE: WAISTCOAT BY BONDY OPPOSITE PAGE: SILK SET BY EMELIE JANRELL, SHOE-SCULPTURES BY NAIM JOSEFI

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Being the patron saint of Scandinavian broken hearts, Veronica Maggio’s impact on the Nordic music sphere since her debut album 15 years ago is almost beyond comparison. Pop music (especially in Sweden) would undoubtedly not have sounded the same if not for Maggio’s somewhat melancholic and intimate take on simple love stories and grandiose tales of sleepless streets on eternal summer nights. Welcoming her listeners into a heart that is bleeding, all of her songs create a sense of ‘us against the world’ – Veronica Maggio will be on our side no matter what! Befriending millions of people through music is not a simple task, but Maggio has managed to help her fans through thick and thin, just like a true friend should. “Playing live and seeing how much the lyrics mean to someone standing in the crowd, I can’t begin to describe how amazing that makes me feel,” she says when I ask her about her thoughts on the fact that her music has helped her listeners through highs and lows, through the breaking and mending of hearts. “I love people and their emotions, their way to deal with things and to describe things in ways that give them meaning,” she explains. “The essence of what I like is when a meaningless and ordinary action is described in words that give it meaning. Then, life feels a little bit better and a little bit easier.” Maggio is in fact talking about what she herself enjoys in music and literature, but she might as well have been defining her own accomplishment, since breathing meaning into otherwise mundane events is one of her superpowers. Anyone can write or sing or recite words of love, but few can really make it count. Maggio is one of these few, sporting a near magical ability to bring simplicity to life. The magic formula, I believe, is creating the illusion of a direct mode of communication between a singer and a listener, making us feel like each Maggio song is a personal, one-on-one, heart-to-heart conversation. Being that Maggio sings her heartfelt lyrics almost exclusively in Swedish, I urge every English-speaking Forumist reader to listen closely to her music, because her uniqueness lies heavily in the way that she sings, and that her energy transcends the barriers of language. Prior to the release of her latest single, ‘Se mig’ (‘See me’), which will be featured on her upcoming seventh studio album, Maggio put out ‘Nu stannar vi på marken’ (‘Now we stay on the ground’), a cover of mythical Swedish marvel Stina Nordenstam’s ‘Nu lyfter vi från marken’ (‘Now we lift off from the ground’). The release of the beautiful cover was a part of a campaign for the Swedish national train




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service encouraging people to travel by train – staying on the ground – instead of flying, now when things are slowly getting back to normal and we can begin to revitalize our lives. As we return from this strange period of isolation, we have the chance to start over and do everyday things, such as travelling, in ways that are more sustainable. In the light of this environmentally friendly release, which still to my ears dwells on matters of the heart, I ask Maggio what the issue of climate change means to her. “It means a lot, of course!” she exclaims. “We only have one planet, so there really is no one for whom it doesn’t mean anything at all. I think it’s stressful, I always feel like I’m not doing enough and I am constantly reminded of how powerless I am. It is the big corporations and industries that need to change, or maybe it’s our consumption frenzy that has to change, first and foremost. Every business needs constant growth in order to survive, which is an impossible equation. Of course, it’s difficult to incite people to shrink their companies and their lives, because it is not in human nature to think smaller. It is one of our most basic driving forces, but it needs to change.” Just like in her music, I feel like Maggio can speak of such seemingly hopeless things as these, but still do it in a hopeful way. When she serenades a lost love or a forgotten night, it is always with an underlying sense of a dim light at the end of the tunnel, a possible turn around a remote corner. In the intimate universe that consists of Maggio’s vast song book, a warm feeling of never being too late to turn things around is ever present.

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From record to record, Maggio has succeeded in reinventing herself and her sound, constantly revitalizing her career while still maintaining her core identity as an artist. “I always go by my gut feeling and my intuition,” she says about her creative process, which apparently is not based on ready-made visions. “I always want to move away from the last thing I’ve done. I usually get tired of myself, my lyrics, my methods or my producer. I need to change something up, otherwise I can get bored. Right now, I don’t know exactly what I’m moving towards,” she explains, with her new studio album in mind, which is being recorded as we speak. It’s highly exciting to catch Maggio right in the middle of creating something new, since her thoughts and her direction aren’t yet cemented and decided. From what I have seen, the one thing that’s certain about the new record is that its artwork will be based on Belgian comic artist Roger Leloup’s comic-strip stories about electrical-engineer heroine Yoko Tsuno, since Maggio loves science fiction and found one of Leloup’s comic books in the early stages of making the album. There is a vibrance in Maggio’s voice, betraying the fact that this uncertain and open phase of the creation is quite rewarding. Anything can happen, the world is her oyster. Still, the changes between the records might become smaller with age: “Of course, when you’re younger, the steps are bigger because you change more as a person from year to year. Now, I think I’ve found a core which I stick closer to.” As she releases a steady stream of singles this autumn before finally releasing her new album next spring, it is clear that Maggio has finally found a space of certainty to hold on to while still always moving forward and reshaping her expression. Perhaps that is exactly what her many loyal fans cling on to as well – a secure rock that still allows movement, change and growth. @veronicamaggio

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Earthly Paradise Costa Rica is showing the rest of the world how to work with nature for the economic and cultural good through ecologically minded tourism and architecture Words by CHARLES WESTERBERG

As one of the most biodiverse and eco-friendly countries on the planet, Costa Rica stands out. At the end of the 1940s, the government disbanded their entire army following a bloody military coup. Funds formerly dedicated to the military were now instead moved towards education, which slowly solidified Costa Rica as the safest and best educated country in Central America. With a deep-rooted determination towards environmentalism and strong democratic principles, the nation is now continuously scoring top rankings on lists for the happiest, most sustainable and most ethical places in the world. Eco-tourism is the fastest growing sector of the tourism industry, with Costa Rica having been a popular travel destination for nature-loving tourists since the 70s. This adds further incentives for the protection of the country’s natural resources, as Costa Rican tourism employs approximately 200,000 people and directly and indirectly accounts for 8% of GDP. The number of eco-lodges and hotels has exploded over the past few decades, with 60% of all visitors reportedly choosing the country’s natural wonders as the number one reason for their visit. Eco-architecture is a prominent feature of eco-tourism, intended to minimise the environmental impact of construction, by using locally harvested materials and solar energy, cutting down on water use, and integrating structures into their surroundings, rather than destroying them. As with many other sustainability initiatives, integrating architectural planning with nature is far from a novel idea, from the cave dwellers of our prehistoric past to the Cambodian temple of Angkor Wat, still standing today since its

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TOP, LEFT AND RIGHT: SIRENA HOUSE, DESIGNED BY STUDIO SAXE, IS A SERIES OF PAVILIONS BY THE PACIFIC COAST AT SAINT THERESA IN COSTA RICA. ABOVE: NAIA I, ONE OF TWO BEACHFRONT HOUSES BY STUDIO SAXE, ALSO AT SAINT TERESA

construction during the 12th century CE. Angkor Wat was built using entirely local materials and the surrounding streams were utilised to power irrigation systems and hydraulic engines in one of the most advanced water management systems of its time. The complex network of channels and reservoirs helped to reserve water for dry periods, to water crops and even to heat or cool areas when needed. Costa Rican-based architecture firm Saxe Studios is located in the nation’s capital, San José. The studio has made a name for itself through its beautifully designed and nature-friendly developments that can be found all over the country. Projects include hotels, lodges, apartment buildings and offices. Founder and design director Benjamin G Saxe explains that his architectural vision is one of integrating the development with its surroundings and thus minimising its impact on nature: “Since I was at university, I have had an interest in the relationship between architecture and the natural world. How can they be together and act together? We need to protect ourselves from the elements but we also need to be part of the natural world.” This is evident in many of the projects by Studio Saxe, one of which is located in the quaint surfing village of Nosara, sitting on the Pacific coast of north-western Costa Rica. The development, with an athletic centre, with gyms and fitness shops, could all fit into one building but is instead spread out like a small village, where each unit, built from glass, metal and wood, is carefully constructed to fit naturally among the trees. The design allows for the trees to keep growing freely among the units and thus has less of an impact on the local flora and fauna. Features such as long roof overhangs also act as sun cover as well as collecting rainwater, which minimises cooling costs and water usage. Integration is one key aspect of sustainable architecture. The location, placement and execution of a project can have a major effect on its ecological footprint. But complete sustainability must incorporate all aspects, including meeting social targets. On the other side of Costa Rica lies Puerto Viejo on the Caribbean coast. Here, local construction company CR Eco is currently working on another Studio Saxe


CASA BELL-LLOC, A CONCRETE HOUSE DESIGNED BY STUDIO SAXE, IN SANTA TERESA, A SMALL TOWN IN COSTA RICA’S PUNTARENAS PROVINCE

development. This residential building consists of smaller units surrounding an extensive outdoor area and swimming pool. The builders are all hired locally, which creates jobs in the community while minimising transportation costs and emissions, and local materials from renewable sources using ethical labour are used to the largest extent possible. Materials used in the structure include teak, bamboo and the lava stone piedra sanchez, all chosen based on variables such as cost, properties and environmental impact. Benjamin predicts that in the future, “we will probably be better at understanding what humans already understood thousands of years ago and return to a primal understanding of the world, utilising the elements such as wind, sun and topography. Through modern technology, we will also be able to solve other issues of design in smarter ways.” As people are becoming more aware of the consequences of their actions, many travellers now opt for more eco-friendly vacationing to satisfy their consciences. In a globalised economy, putting a halt to travelling would have disastrous effects, especially in poorer nations where tourism supplies countless job opportunities and accounts for a major proportion of GDP. As in most other sectors, it will not be a question of altogether abandoning it, but instead adapting to a more sustainable world. Costa Rica is one of the bright examples of how eco-tourism should be conducted. Benjamin explains how eco-tourism initially started as a way to bridge the gap between the economic good that tourism could bring while minimising the impact on the natural world: “I believe it will continue growing, and Costa Rica will remain at the forefront of it in the future.” The motto of Costa Rica is ‘pura vida’, meaning pure life. It is used as a greeting, a goodbye, and at anytime you wish to let someone know that everything is okay. It means to slow down and focus on what’s important, including an appreciation of the natural elements upon which we all depend. This love for nature is reflected almost everywhere in Costa Rican culture, even in the paper currency, which features illustrations of various ecosystems and species that can be found throughout the country,

from the sharks of the country’s coastal waters in the east and west to the sloths of the cloud forests. The interplay between nature and humans is not taken for granted in Costa Rica; instead, it is celebrated and carefully nurtured. Benjamin explains how growing up in Costa Rica has shaped his view of the natural world: “Costa Ricans understand that without the nature which surrounds us, we have nothing. It is the biggest asset we have and we must protect it. This has become ingrained in Costa Rican minds for many generations and continues to be the foundation of our country.” studiosaxe.com; @studiosaxe 53


The return of the thin light grog Schweppes Selection, in collaboration with Södra Teatern, Stockholm’s leading venue for entertainment and music, have created an exclusive range of drinks in tribute to one that was popular when strong alcohol was proscribed and which is now in demand once again. Welcome to the revitalization of the light grog Photography of Schweppes images by The Forumist Productions Words by ALFREDO L. JONES Special thanks to SCHWEPPES

Södra Teatern has been a hot spot in Stockholm since the 19th century. As one of Sweden’s oldest active theatres, it has always sparkled with excitement. It was here that you could see every outstanding performer of the era. This is where jazz came to town and the best jokes were heard, and glamour and affability came together in one magnificent building. When Gustaf Wally of the Wallenberg family took over as theatre director in the 1930s, he showed the ‘Venice of the North’ what a true variety show should look like, just as he had learned in the US as a show dancer. You had to be continually inventive to keep the crowd coming back, especially since the government did their best to stop anything too joyful by not allowing alcohol to be served during the shows. Nevertheless, if you wanted a fun evening in Stockholm in those days, Södra Teatern was the place to go – and it still is. Today Södran, as it is familiarly called, is more vibrant than ever, with a stage for international guest performances plus a varied range of concerts, plays, seminars, lectures and clubs, as well as three bars. It is an arena for entertainment that has kept its soul through the years. This is where actors such as Gösta Ekman, Thor Modéen, Zarah Leander and many others not only performed but also enjoyed TOP, FROM LEFT: A SCENE FROM HASSE EKMAN’S 1948 FILM BANKETTEN; GUSTAV WALLY FAR LEFT: SÖDRA TEATERN IN THE LATE 19TH CENTURY AND TODAY; LEFT: A SCHWEPPES POSTER FROM 1930 BELOW: SCHWEPPES SELECTION KRISTALLEN AND SCHWEPPES SELECTION GROGGEN OPPOSITE: SCHWEPPES SELECTION CHAMPANGEBAREN

themselves after the show. Modéen is often said to have done his encore on stage dressed in his ordinary clothes, so that he would save time while hurrying to the restaurant after the show, relaxing with his favourite tipple: the light grog. The grog is actually an old name for a drink that dates back to the British Admiral Edward Vernon (1684–1757), known as ‘Old Grog’ because he wore coats made of grogram cloth. He is said to have been among those who started to serve rum diluted with water to his crew in his naval squadron in the West Indies, because the fresh water taken aboard in casks quickly developed algae and became slimy. Stagnant water was sweetened with beer or wine to make it palatable, which involved more casks and was subject to spoilage. As longer voyages became more common, the storage of the sailors’ substantial daily ration of water plus beer or wine became a problem. Following England’s conquest of Jamaica, a half-pint of rum gradually replaced beer and brandy as the drink of choice. But to be a grog in the modern sense, it requires not only alcohol and water, but also plentiful bubbles. In 1778, Jacob Schweppe invented the first industrial process to capture bubbles in bottled liquids, thus making the grog what it is today. Without the magic of carbonation, there would be no true Swedish light grog. Designed to please the government back in the days, the light grog also became the archetypal symbol of the golden days of vaudeville and showbiz in Sweden. It was served in a large glass – which today we call a highball – and with at least 20cl of soda or

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tonic, and, most importantly, only 2.5cl of alcohol. Amazingly enough, you were also allowed a double ‘light grog’. Still, not more than two light grogs were allowed to be served during the same visit. This was also at that time the only drink allowed to be consumed without any accompanying food. In those days, however, a meal in restaurants could also be entirely symbolic, with a small, cheap dish going back and forth between guests who then could order wine and other alcoholic beverages according to established quantities. If someone finally ate what was on the plate, he would get curious looks since it had been known to be passed around the tables for days. Yes, these were certainly not easy times if you were a social animal who liked to go out and enjoy a few drinks. Classically a light grog should only have two ingredients; if there are more we have instead made a drink or even a cocktail. When it comes to Swedish alcohol restrictions, during the infamous regime – the so-called Bratt System (1917–55) – the most popular light grog was most often ready-mixed and consisting of eau de vie, whisky or gin, and water (carbonated or not) or some other non-alcoholic beverage. One, with brandy and soda (sockerdricka) that is still popular today is the classic Grosshandlare – ‘the wholesaler grog’. Internationally distributed grogs in the same fashion are, for example, gin and tonic, rum and cola, Kalimotxo (red wine and cola), and Horse’s Neck (brandy and ginger ale). Grape tonic and gin became a popular drink in Finland, often consumed after sauna baths. It was launched during the 1952 Summer Olympics in Helsinki and has since been sold in cans.

It’s called Hartwall Original Long Drink, but everyone calls it Lonkero. But it was in Sweden, after world war one, where the grog became a modest art form. And today, this long drink, which was created to be light with plenty of non-alcoholic tonic and sodas, is back in demand. It lasts longer and keeps you alert. Perfect for nightclubbing or long-lasting mingles. As Södra Teatern now goes through another rejuvenation, it is of course the perfect spot for a re-introduction of the classic light grog. A tribute to those days when lush life was a true struggle due to the morality of the time. Let us enjoy modern grogs created in collaboration with Schweppes Selection for each bar in this classical theatre and meeting spot. Refreshingly light and tasty. In a world of extravagance, a humble example of revitalization.

Drinks: 1) Schweppes Selection Champangebaren 50ml raspberry-infused Aperol 150ml Schweppes Selection Hibiscus Tonic 2) Schweppes Selection Groggen 70ml lemongrass-infused Yuzu Sake 150ml Schweppes Selection Touch of Lime 3) Schweppes Selection Kristallen 45ml citrus and hibiscus-infused mezcal 150ml Schweppes Selection Ginger Beer


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