Weekend in Malmö Among Friends

As usual, we spent too little time in Malmö, didn’t get to do all the visiting we wanted to do, didn’t get to have all the conversations we wanted to have. But we made a valiant effort to squeeze in as much as we could, and our efforts reached their peak over the weekend.

Olle and Oliver

We started off meeting up with Olle and Luisa just up the street at ReBike, which was holding a bicycle auction. The auction proved to be dissatisfying, so we redirected to the nearby flea market. We emerged hungry for lunch, and a stop at the McDonalds next door was proposed, an atypical emergency measure given hunger levels (and an opportunity for us to spend our “we’re allow to go to McDonalds once on every European trip if circumstances dictate” allowance). Some of our party being vegans, our visit was predicated on the presence of the McVegan on the menu (yes, this is a thing). It was not on the menu, so we decamped.

At this point Luisa returned home and Olle, Oliver and I redirected to Mitt Möllan, where Olle had Indian food and Oliver and I enjoyed pizza from the excellent Pizza dal Sud.

Sated, we caught a taxi, magically invoked by Olle’s phone, and headed to the Moderna Museet Malmö where we rendezvoused with Olle’s friend David, and took in an exhibition of 19th century photography (upstairs) and a retrospective of the work of Polish artists Katarzyna Kobro and Władysław Strzemiński (downstairs).

Katarzyna Kobro and Władysław Strzemiński Art

Katarzyna Kobro and Władysław Strzemiński Graphic Design

After our visit, we retired to the stratospherically orange café, where we enjoyed coffee and cake and got to know David a little better. He is, we learned, a practitioner of “stealthy” photography–the taking of photos in such a way as the moment is captured without artifice. I decided to try my hand, and, in the flick of a moment, took this photo, which is either a photo of David and Olle, or a photo of the tiny man in the background talking on his mobile.

Olle and David

At this point we left David and Olle, and the newly-joining Eric, to their own devices, and headed off in search of an early supper, hopeful that the rain would hold until we were under cover.

We found both food and cover from the rain at Nguyen’s Sandwiches, where we enjoyed tofu bánh mì.

Outside the impending rain became driving rain, and so I quickly pulled out my phone to see if there was a movie we might watch, so as to avoid a soggy walk home. The Children Act, an Emma Thompson film, was starting in 15 minutes just a few blocks away, so we scubaed through the rain and made it just in time. And, in so doing, we got to experience interesting aspects of the Swedish cinema-going experience: reserved seating, a convenience store-like concession (similar to what we saw in Oslo in 2015), and a phalanx of political advertising during the pre-show.

When we emerged 2 hours later, the rain had passed and it was a brisk, bright Saturday evening, perfect for a walk home. While walking I texted Olle to invite him over for tea, and when we arrived he was standing in front of our apartment waiting for us; we did, indeed, drink tea, and ate potato chips, and talked well into the evening.

Sunday morning’s task was to do our laundry.

Our Malmö apartment had a communal laundry room in the basement that we could reserve the exclusive use of for 4 hours using a board in the lobby, affixing a lock to the hour range we wanted. As our key was in the countryside with our apartment’s owner, we were advised to stick a piece of paper in our slot:

Laundry reservation board in our apartment

At 8:00 a.m. I packed up our near-week’s worth of laundry and headed down. Only to find the door locked. This was quickly resolved by a ping to our Airbnb host, who had a neighbour unlock the door, and by 8:30 a.m. I was in business, decrypting the not-all-that-hard-to-decrypt Swedish washing machine.

The highlight of the experience, though, was not the washing but the drying, as the drying was done in a C.S. Lewis-sized drying cabinet, with swing-out bars on which to arrange wet clothes. It did an amazing job at drying everything quickly and completely and without wrinkles.

So the laundry was done and folded by 11:00 a.m.

It being Sunday, Oliver expected waffles. Fortunately I had Malmö-based experience in this regard, and we walked down to Kungsgatan Café for its weekend brunch, which included cheeses and meats and buns and granola and yogurt. And make-your-own waffles.

Waffles at Kungsgatan Cafe

After lunch we took a walk in the sunshine, and then headed to Olle and Luisa’s apartment–just 5 minutes walk away–for a fika they had kindly organized in our honour. In attendance were friends I’d met before–Nene and Loe and Johanna–along with Lovisa and Mikael, who were new. There were cakes, and tarts, and ice cream, and cardamom-infused coffee and delightful company.

The highlight of the fika for me was an extended conversation with Nene about our shared love of fountain pens (her love is deeper than mine, which only served to deepen my own). Nene brought her entire fleet of pens, and kindly allowed me to try them all, and provided helpful commentary about each. She then left me with the unexpected gift of a pen and some intriguing inks. We will, I’m sure, have more to talk about on this in future.

As fika wound down, friend Jonas, who’d had to miss the afternoon to attend a baptism, radioed in and offered to drive us out to his allotment (which, in the Swedish sense, is a community garden plot cum modest summer cottage). We got a cook’s tour of the allotment, followed by a tasty take-out supper of vegetarian bibimbap from Spoonery.

Jonas and Oliver and Olle at the Allotment

Jonas dropped us back at our apartment late Sunday night, and I finished the day in a frantic drive to clean things up and get organized for our departure for Berlin this morning.

Which is where I type right now, en route presently from Fredericia to Hamburg, with Oliver across the way, wearing a red wool sweater that Olle loaned and then gifted him:

Oliver on the Train

Next stop, Berlin.


T. Michael Stephens's picture
T. Michael Stephens on August 30, 2018 - 01:38 Permalink

Wow: 'Kobro & Strezminski Show'; could you do Us the favor of forwarding/sharing this with Our Polish A.R.C. Associate Member Gosia Koscielak/Chicago who is devoted to "UNISM" of Krobro & studied with Stazewski?
Yours in Art,
Michael S Coordinator Art Research Center/A.R.C.Group http://www.artresearchcenter.org

Gosia Koscielak 's picture
Gosia Koscielak on December 11, 2020 - 18:07 Permalink

Hi Michael,
I knew Stazewski personally. I Visited his studio in Warsaw in the 80’s. He was already in his 90’s generation of Kobro and Strzeminski, legendary Polish avant-garde artists. He was an art guru to us, young students of art schools. after his death I curated the mail art exhibition Hommage to Henryk Stazewski with 150 artists from different countries. First exhibition of the Hommage to HS was presented at the Rekwizytornia Gallery of the Contemporary Theatre in Wroclaw. Amazing Polish avant-garde! I am glad I found your note online and could respond. Cheers!