Greta Garbo’s Grave

They say Garbo was elusive in her life. She’s somewhat elusive in death also, it seems. Even though I’d found some online instructions about how to find her grave, they weren’t particularly clear. Even though they were seemingly quite detailed, they lacked specifics. The “general vibe” isn’t enough when it comes to navigation, I’ve concluded.

But if you’re looking for the grave of the famous Swedish actor, it’s actually pretty simple. First, you catch a bus or T-bana to to Skogskyrkogården (the woodland cemetery) in Stockholm’s south. Once there, you walk along the main path (walking past the chapels and the large crucifix) until you see signs which direct you to Skogskapellet (the woodland chapel). Once there, you enter the grounds of the chapel (it’s surrounded by a wall), and once inside, facing the chapel, look towards the right and you’ll see an exit. Walk to the exit, look straight ahead, and you’ll see her grave (about fifty metres away). It’s directly ahead.

It was the first stop for us on a day of differing types of arts and culture.

Our next major arts “stop” for the day was the Moderna Museet, which I’ve been to on a number of occasions before, and which I’ve previously enjoyed very much. There were a couple of works which I enjoyed very much, including a fantastic self-portrait by Swedish artist, Cecilia Edefalk.

From the moment we entered the room I was captivated by the simple black and white photograph. In the photograph, Cecilia is holding a gun pointed straight at you. While the gun is slightly out of focus, the rest of the photograph is firmly in focus, as she looks you firmly straight in the eyes. Nearby there was another work by an American artist, Elaine Sturtevant, which I also liked very much. Again, it’s a simple image, but with a twist, as the woman portrayed has neon lights for lips.

In contrast, some of the current main exhibitions left me cold. In particular, I felt almost absolutely nothing as I walked around and looked at the works of the well-known Swedish artist, Hilma af Klint. Although the exhibition was well-attended, I couldn’t see what the attraction was. To me, there was no passion in the work. It seemed a little cold, a little clinical for my liking. I’ve probably missed the point, and maybe I needed to know a little more about her work before entering the exhibition?

After a brief mid-afternoon coffee break, we took a look around the nearby Arkitekturmuseet (Architecture museum). Essentially, it’s one very large room that takes you through a couple of thousand years of Swedish architecture, from early buildings made from timber and mud, to the latest and greatest. There’s a reference to aquatics centre at the Beijing Olympics, though I couldn’t work out what the connection was. (Updated)

What I thought was really interesting about the Arkitekturmuseet, and really enjoyed was the insight the museum also gave into the lives of everyday Swedes. There’s a series of panels and videos which describe (in Swedish) different modes of living enjoyed by everyday Swedes. To accompany the exhibition, there’s also an excellent audio commentary tour available. On the audio tour, I was delighted to instantly recognise the voice of Gaby Katz. “She used to present Sounds Nordic on Sveriges Radio”, I told Sue.

Later in the evening we headed to the Big Ben Pub for their English language comedy night. In a country where everyone speaks brilliant English, and where there are signs for everything in English, and where there are lots of English language programs on TV (ok, basically Big Bang Theory and The Simpsons), I was keen to find something which we could go both out and enjoy.

Interestingly enough, I’d say 90% of the crowd (maybe more) were Swedes. On top of that, three out of the five comics were also native born Swedes, and most of their humour related to their Swedish-ness. During the first half we were a little worried, as the first two comics weren’t all that funny, and sometimes struggled a little with English.

The second half, though, was pretty good. In particular, we enjoyed the personal humour of the only female comic of the night, a Swedish woman from East Asian heritage who had recently moved to London. Much of her comedy was about her experiences growing up “looking different” in Sweden, and about her unsuccessful attempts at relationships. Sometimes that whole “I’m a woman who can’t find a man” comedy routine can be a little tiresome. I also think it can sometimes re-inforce some female stereotypes. Although tempted, she didn’t fall too heavily into that trap, emerging as a strong, confident woman. The audience loved her, and so did we.

3 thoughts on “Greta Garbo’s Grave

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  1. James, is the ‘Swedish designed aquatic centre at the Beijing Olympics’ the building that we know as the water cube, the building that we refer to as Australian designed? :-)

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