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The tax office (Swedish) called while I was on my way to the supermarket. They needed to ask a couple of simple questions to approve my application to register my company. The first was to clarify the type of artistic activities my company will do – this is because there are different tax bands for different activities. The second, and more frightening, question was about my estimated ‘turnover’ in the first year. So there I was on a busy street corner thinking about a figure that would demonstrate my professionalism and seriousness while at the same time not landing me with crippling monthly tax bills. In the end I think I over estimated what I will be able to earn in my first year here, thankfully I have some savings that should see me through to when any over payments are calculated. The paperwork should arrive this week. I hope this gives me sufficient ‘Swedish’ registration to open a bank account – the last thing I want is to have to pay international bank transfer fees on each tax bill! I’m also hoping that registering my company and starting to pay tax will enable my application for a “full” personal number to proceed.

It was interesting to visit the studio being offered through the city’s culture office. It’s in part of a former prison complex on a small island that is now a boat yard and park. There were quite a lot of us trying to find our way around, eventually someone worked out that we needed to use the door on the other side of the building. The studio was a good size with two large windows, a kitchen bench with sink and a toilet just outside. It’s one of several studios in the building and quite possibly the one with the trickiest access. We entered via an incredibly tight stone spiral staircase, thankfully it was only one flight up. Alternative access is through the adjacent studio, you’d have to use this to get in any serious amount of materials or equipment. I don’t need to worry about this though as I noticed that at least one artist who expressed an interest in renting it has been on the waiting list since 2003. The studio will be given to the longest waiting artist who expresses an interest in this particular studio. For the next couple of years I will take the opportunity to see these studios as research.

On Monday evening I went to Birgitta’s “Pumpkin Parade” on Årstafältet – the field where she also organsises the snow sculpting and other projects. Children had carved the pumpkins that they planted in spring. The pumpkins looked great displayed along the footpath that was once the road the south out of Stockholm. There wee also short speeches by campaigners and supporters trying to stop the field becoming a housing development. The evening was a great piece of socially engaged artistic activism. Birgitta’s enthusiasm and commitment is infectious and inspiring.

After the studio visit on Tuesday I went to a talk at Iaspis – an arts organisation that supports and promotes artists. They are running a series of talks about artist’s initiatives that go beyond the artist run gallery/studio. The guest this evening was Sean Dockray (USA) speaking about his Public School and AAARG.ORG projects. It made me think about what an artist is, or can be. His projects are incredibly ambitious and far-reaching. He refused to answer a direct question asking if he called himself an artist.

On Wednesday Marlene Dumas gave talk at Moderna Museet. It was held in a small gallery where there is a temporary show of her work. Her talk was illustrated with images however I have no idea what the images were as the room was already packed by the time I arrived. I opted for one of the Eames chairs outside of the gallery rather than standing by the doorway and straining to get a glimpse of her. It was good to hear her speak about the relationship between her influences and her art.

I’m becoming increasingly interested in what I (used to) consider to be an old fashioned idea of the artist …

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