In Vino Päritas: Valdemar Gerdin


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A wino in a new museum

According to London wine hipster magazine the Noble Rot, music and wine has a clear connection, and I’m first in line to agree. But I would also like to add that art and wine also have a natural bond of attraction; I have written about artists and gallery owners here before, and this time I met curator and museum director Valdemar Gerdin for a chat about his friendly wine-tasting events and his passion for vintage champagne and art.

Gerdin is the curator behind many exciting and odd exhibitions all over Stockholm and Sweden with Swedish underground art at the core. An art historian by education, Gerdin is now director of his latest project *Det Nya Museet* in Sundbyberg, a project were he is trying to find out if one can start and run a museum without a whole lot of money. The museum is beautifully situated in an old church and is subsided by the *Sundbybergs Köksbryggeri*, a small yet well-renowned beer brewery. Aside from Valdemar’s interest in art and collecting, and a passion for Neolithic archaeology, he is an avid beer and wine enthusiast.

His art journey started early, fired by the great curiosity that accurately reflects his personality, and which grew rapidly and expanded into a self-made profession. ”I have been interested in pictures and art since before I could write, and in my preteen years I had the opportunity to experience 60’s and 70’s underground art. At the same time, in 1990, I saw my first exhibition of contemporary art, Ingrid Orfali at Kulturhuset and I have been hooked ever since.”

With *Det Nya Museet* Valdemar is trying to see if it’s possible to start and run a museum on a shoestring, a project that has been running for a few years and is now running like clockwork. ”We have four to six exhibitions each year, and around 15 events such as performances, concerts, readings and artist’s talks. 75 per cent of the art we show is new material, and 25 per cent is from the collection. The size of the collection is comparable to that of a normal county museum in Sweden, with probably the largest collection of underground art in Sweden.”

“Among the artists represented in the collection, there is a 50/50 gender balance, which includes more than art from the 60’s and 70’s. Some of the artists in the collection are Lena Svedberg, Linnéa Sjöberg, Edward Kienholz, Maria Adlercreutz, Peter Weiss, Kjartan Slettemark and Hilma af Klint.”

With one foot in the art world and one in the wine world, our paths have crossed many times, and it’s always been great to have encounters that offered a chance to share thoughts and ideas about our passions. I have been following his art projects closely but have yet to visit his wine-tasting events. I’m very curious about them but can’t help my curiosity about his whereabouts with *Det Nya Museet*.”

As a curator you have put together many exciting shows, is there still a dream project left?

“No, not at the moment. At *Det Nya Museet* I can do whatever I like, so every show has its part in my program, every show is important for me! But I would like to get more space so I can show more from the collection.”

You collect art from certain eras and styles, is it the same if you are collecting wine?

“I wouldn’t call it collecting when it comes to wine – for me collecting is so connected with art. With art, I take care of the artwork for the next generation, giving the piece as much care as possible, lending them to other museums and trying to give them space in new books and putting them in a contemporary context. With the wines there is a different approach – I am not hoarding them for a future that I will not be a part of. I will drink them with as many people that I can. If it fails, it will be a nice funeral.”

Are there similarities within the two passions in your life?

”Yes, you can tell a story from both. My wine journey, however, started when I was around 17, I was lurking around in Systembolagets brochure in search of interesting wines. At that time I thought the older the better, and it needed to be cheap. To get that together is not the easiest endeavour and I remember that I bought a lot of Hungarian Tokay and German wines. Since I was underage I couldn’t go in and buy the wine myself; I needed a frontman of some sort, or maybe a pusher is a more correct term for this type of activity.

Sometimes it was hard for the person to understand that he or she couldn’t go in and buy ‘just a bottle of wine’, but rather this very specific wine, and so this failed many times. I also remember that I always tried to purchase older bottles from the parents of acquaintances, I suspect sometimes without the parents’ knowledge. Now I cannot imagine how I’d feel if my son or daughter had sold from my stash; I’d be furious – but maybe secretly slightly proud. When I was 19 I started to get more serious when it comes to wine, I travelled around UK, France and Denmark and bought older wines. I actually didn’t have much money to spend, but this was the era when a bottle of DRC (Domaine de la Romanée-Conti) or an expensive Bordeaux was three or four times more expensive abroad than here in Sweden, so I bought as much wines I could and packed them in a suitcase to London. I sold the wines there and for the profit I bought mostly older champagnes, which were crazy cheap then.”

Tell us about the wine tasting events you hold under the name Vinkonnotation.

”The tastings I hold are with themes that I have a big interest in or like to get to know better. It seems like I have a lifetime crush for vintage champagne, and this area I know pretty well. Bourgogne and Bordeaux, I love, but I don’t know as much as I would like to. As I don’t have the money to try all these amazing wines, the tastings are an excellent chance for me to do so. The price per seat is the cost of the bottles split by the number of participants, so it’s a great opportunity for interested people to come together and try wines you wouldn’t afford buying whole bottles of. What we have been tasting so far during this year is a lot of vintage champagnes and some vintage beers. After the summer there will be a Bordeaux 80’s tasting and probably a Hermitage, Jaboulet La Chapelle 1982-1999.”

“The name Vinkonnotation refers to the semiotic method where you analyse signs and symbols from a personal level – what meaning they hold for you, or how they read in different cultures, I don’t find the different tones (is the nose cherry or stable?) in the wine especially interesting. I am interested in which type of cherry or which stable you smell, or where in the stable you are, and how you interpret these smells on a personal level. I will say that the smell in a glass of wine is more subjective and cultural contingent than we think. And this is the part that interests me, this is where I can find my story to tell”.

What is the best bottle you have had so far?

”Champagne Irroy 1941, you could literally taste the war through the smell of gunpowder! It’s strange that so much can be stored in the purina. And Philipponnat Clos des Goisses 1983! Bordeaux Chateau Moulinet 1918, it was dead after 15 minutes, but those 15 minutes! Sadly only one of five bottles was like this, the rest was only memorable because of this particular year’s historic significance. I could go on for ever”.

Here are three bottles to taste this summer,according to Valdemar:

From left to right: Champagne, Michel Gonet 2004 (nr 7895) 341 sek, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Mas de Boislauzon 2012 (nr 92578) 261 sek and Taurasi, Radici 2009 (nr 95008) 281 sek.

This summer *Det Nya Museet* is showing Salong Flyttkartong.

The new museum *Det Nya Museet* is a politically and religiously independent business. It offers exhibitions, seminars, lectures and creative workshops, and is based on a large collection of art from 1960 to the present. The gender distribution of the collections is 50/50.

The new museum will serve as a platform to build bridges between people regardless of ethnicity, political opinions or age. Issues that are important for the new museum are democracy, gender equality, promoting encounters between different cultures, social groups and age groups. Solidarity, LGBT, international issues, local issues and community involvement will be important in the business.

They see the availability of the museum as an important part of the business so it is free entry to the museum during the opening hours, Sat-Sun 11-14. One can see that the interest in political art from the 60s and 70s has greatly increased over the years. More and more institutions are choosing to highlight this era in the history of art and the response from visitors is very positive. The New Museum’s collection is already known, and in the last three years alone Swedish and foreign institutions have borrowed over three hundred items from it.

For more info, visit here:

Text and Image: Pär Strömberg