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  • May 12, 2014

The Image of Strindberg Evokes Multiple Sides of Sweden’s Most Celebrated Author: August Strindberg

“I do not believe anyone will tire of me as I am very versatile” - August Strindberg, 1875.

The madman, the jealous one,  the anarchist, the vagabond, the vain one - all different sides of Swedish dramatist and author August Strindberg (1849-1912). Today, more than 100 years after the death of Strindberg, a multitude of opinions surround the world-renowned playwright of Miss Julie, A Dream Play and the Ghost Sonata.  Who exactly was August Strindberg, and of the hundreds of self-promoting images he produced, do any of them accurately capture the man himself?  

ASI presents The Image of Strindberg, a rare and intimate look at Swedish poet, playwright, author and visual artist, August Strindberg (1849-1912).  The exhibition is produced by Fotografiska, The Swedish Museum of Photography. The show is on view at the American Swedish Institute from June 14- October 26, 2014.

August Strindberg: Original Master of Selfies?

Strindberg was ahead of his time and successful in his ambition to systematically build his brand in Sweden and around the world through carefully curated photographs and writing. Few writers of his generation visited the photo studio as frequently as Strindberg; sometimes he posed for world-famous photographers such as Otto Wegener in Paris, sometimes for amateurs such as the shop assistant Otto Johansson in Furusund in Stockholm’s Northern archipelago. Just as often he availed himself of the camera’s self-timer when creating his self-portraits, meticulously staging just the right shot. He was always his own favorite motif.

At a time when the media consisted of newspapers, magazines and books, Strindberg used photography as an efficient visual calling card. He also printed postcards with his portrait, which he sent to friends, women, children, acquaintances, colleagues, translators, publishers, actors, theatre managers and sometimes also to people who had written to him and requested one. Thanks to his obsession with what we would define today as selfies, Strindberg was one of Sweden’s most well-known individuals – a celebrity, before either the word or the concept had been invented.

“A master story teller who was relentlessly calculating in staging just the right shot, portraying the perfect image of his own life and surroundings – Strindberg was doing something in the late nineteenth century that really wasn’t done in such a public way until the modern creation of social media platforms like Instagram. The Image of Strindberg offers the opportunity for admirers of his work to explore new sides of this complicated man while opening the door to new audiences and a younger generation right here in Minnesota,” said Curt Pederson, Curator at the American Swedish Institute.

Strindberg expert and professor of literature at Uppsala University Björn Meidal notes: “[Strindberg’s] contemporaries were either captivated or horrified and believed they knew the reality behind his fiction. Still today, the story of August Strindberg and his life competes successfully with the stories he penned himself.

“So, reality instead of fiction. Today the word is increasingly threatened by the image. We prefer fact-filled reality to emotional fiction while images that move us edge out the word of reason. This conflict did not trouble Strindberg. On the contrary, he exploited it. With the eye of a painter, he used words to created ambivalent images and symbols. And when he wasn’t writing he worked with other images, as a painter and a photographer.”

The Image of Strindberg features 32 framed photographs and modern prints, as well as original artworks and examples of Strindberg’s poetry, scripts, plays and performances brought to life through Artists-in Residencies by Sally Rousse and Peter Beard and a production of Strindberg’s Miss Julie by Theater Coup d’Etat. 


As an organization positioned to connect globally, yet engage locally, The American Swedish Institute’s Artist In Residency Program encourages practicing regional artists to create new work from ASI’s collections or exhibition themes. 

Sally Rousse: DanceMaker (June 11-July 13)

Sally Rousse, rogue dancer extraordinaire, will serve as ASI Artist-In-Residence from June 11-July 13, 2014.  

Rousse will be ‘on display’ in the historic Salon Gallery, enclosed in a museum vitrine like a museum object, doing what a dance artist does. Visitors will get a glimpse into the life of a practicing dancer/choreographer – warming up, taking class, choreographing, rehearsing, sewing shoes, scheduling, having costume fittings, communicating, living. When Rousse is in, visitors will be welcome to adventure into the world of a dance artist. Artifacts and other evidence of her occupation of the vitrine will evolve over the course of the residency.

DanceMaker doubles as a creative workspace for Rousse, allowing her to explore the Eleanora character in a new dance production, KOM HIT!  KOM HIT! is co-produced with Noah Bremer and opens at the American Swedish Institute on June 24 and will run for three consecutive weeks.

DanceMaker allows Sally to work out the physicality of Eleanora, a character modeled after Strindberg's sister Elisabeth who was institutionalized, but wise, clairvoyant, angelic, wistful. 

Rousse will be onsite in the gallery, Wednesdays and Sundays 1p.m. -3 p.m., from June 11 through July 13.  Museum admission is required to see DanceMaker. 

Peter Beard: Scenes of Strindberg

(Wednesdays, July 2; July 9; July 16; July 23; July 30)

Peter Beard, award-winning director and co-founder of Minneapolis’ Theater Coup d’Etat, will serve as ASI Artist-In-Residence in July 2014.  Bringing ASI’s exhibit The Image of Strindberg to life, Beard will present a series of scenes from August Strindberg’s plays - short theatre performances followed by discussions that run consecutive Wednesday nights in the American Swedish Institute’s historic ballroom. 

In line with his theatre company’s mission to provoke an emotional and analytical response by showing the depth of the human condition through both classical and contemporary works, Beard’s “Scenes of Strindberg” invites audiences to travel through time by viewing the snapshots of Strindberg’s theatrical works in order of publication, seeing the author’s story and getting to know him through the lens of his plays.  Discussions will follow each performance, with the opportunity to learn more about what motivated Strindberg, how he dazzled audiences with innovative stage theatrics, and what role he played in the shaping of the theatre movement of his time and its influence on us today.

Dates:  July 2; July 9; July 16; July 23; July 30.  A new scene will be revealed each Wednesday night. Performances are scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m.   Performances are included with museum admission and no tickets or advanced reservations are required. 

Beard will also direct Strindberg’s classic play Miss Julie staged in the American Swedish Institute in October 2014.


ASI hosts a series of exhibit inspired events and workshops throughout the run of The Image of Strindberg. Additional information is available at

2014 ASI Midsommar Celebration/The Image of Strindberg Exhibit Opening Weekend

Saturday, June 14 – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

The Image of Strindberg opens at ASI’s favorite summer tradition and festival. Join in a day of fun for the whole family featuring dancing, music, fiddle-playing, summer treats by FIKA, crafts and outdoor games— just the way Strindberg would have enjoyed the summer holiday. Tickets available in advance in person at ASI or on the day of the event. $10 adults, $5 ages 5-18; free ASI members & kids under 2.

Cocktails at the Cabin

Thursday, August 7,  7-11 p.m

ASI’s popular event series returns with a night in the Swedish wilderness right in the heart of Minneapolis. Live local music. Outdoor games. Cabin inspired favorite eats by FIKA, ASI’s award winning café, create your own “Image of Strindberg,” and much more.  21+. $12 ASI members with code; $15 general public, $45 VIP. Tickets on sale in June at

ASI Crayfish Party

Saturday, August 16, 6:30  p.m.

August is Crayfish Party season in Sweden and no one loved the centuries-old Swedish tradition more than August Strindberg. Join the American Swedish Institute for a party in our outdoor courtyard—strung with lights and decorated with festive lanterns and bright colors for the occasion. Enjoy live music and a traditional Swedish crayfish dinner of good breads, strong cheeses, salads, Swedish paj (similar to a quiche) and, of course, lots of crayfish! Tickets for this 21+ event are $50 for ASI members, and $60 for nonmembers. Reservations required by Sunday, Aug. 10. Tickets available online here.

A Night of Social Wonder: Brand Makers and Image Breakers

Wednesday, September 10, 2014 — doors open 6:30pm, program at 7:00pm

We are deluged with images and messages in our daily and professional lives.  With smartphones and advances in technology, there’s a constant pressure to strategize and curate how we look, what we say and what image we choose to project ourselves with to the public.  Sweden’s most influential and innovative playwright, August Strindberg (1849-1912) was a forerunner in producing a product based on brand and image. The Image of Strindberg (on view June 14 – October 26, 2014) explores this idea in depth.  Moderated by Mark Wheat of 89.3 The Current.

Because Minneapolis is a marketing hub we turn to our branding experts – the marketing field – for a discussion of what works and what doesn’t in the world of brand making.  What are new, innovative approaches to marketing that seem to be turning heads?  What images and brands are making headlines and why? What were the trends in brand making of yesteryear that we can learn from today?   $10 ASI   members; $12 nonmembers. Tickets on sale August 1 at

Images of Strindberg Lecture

Wednesday, Sept. 24 — 6:30 p.m.

Dr. Kjerstin Moody, Chair of the Department of Scandinavian Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College, will present on the life, work, and contrasting images of August Strindberg.  Tickets on sale at or call (612) 871-4907.


Rouge dancer extraordinaire Sally Rousse and Noah Bremer take audiences on a journey through the Turnblad Mansion and the works of Strindberg with an original dance-theater piece: KOM HIT!.  The award-winning Theater Coup d’Etat will stage Strindberg’s classic play Miss Julie in the Ballroom of the historic Turnblad Mansion in Fall 2014.


Rogue ballet dancer Sally Rousse and theater innovator Noah Bremer partner with ASI to explore the nooks and crannies of the Turnblad Mansion in KOM HIT! (Swedish for “come here!”) — a world premiere dance-theater piece inspired by Sweden’s literary father, August Strindberg, and his obsession with gender imbalance, class inequality and a morose disquietude of the heart.

The audience is completely immersed in this modern reimagining of Strindberg’s world as they follow characters from room to room throughout the Turnblad Mansion. Curiosity drives their experiences as the non-linear narrative unfolds into a unique theatrical adventure.

KOM HIT! is performed in conjunction with The Image of Strindberg (Jun 7-Oct. 26), presented from Fotografiska, Sweden’s leading photography museum.  The Image of Strindberg showcases the multiple sides and depictions of August Strindberg, the Swedish author and playwright. 

Performances at 6 and 7:30 p.m each night:  June 24 & 26, July 1, 3, 8 & 10

Tickets: $20.  Tickets for Kom Hit! are available online here. 

ASI presents August Strindberg’s Miss Julie by Theatre Coup d'Etat

Originally banned in multiple countries, Strindberg’s classic Miss Julie is an examination of power in all its various manifestations.  Set on Midsummer’s Eve, Miss Julie thrusts the audience into the wild upheaval of the celebration and hot summer night. Strindberg fearlessly tackles the forever raging battle of the sexes while also hitting upon class, love, and even lust, in this 90 minute tour-de-force by Sweden’s best-known playwright. Produced by Theatre Coup d’Etat and directed by Peter Beard, winner of the 2013 Ivey Award for “Best Direction” of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, staged at the American Swedish Institute.

Preview shows: Monday, Sept. 29 and Tuesday, Sept. 30 at 7:30 p.m.

Opening night: Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m.

Production run: Wednesdays-Saturdays Oct. 1-4, 8-11, 15-18, 22- 25 at 7:30pm & Sundays Oct. 5, 12, 19, 26 at 5pm

Preview shows are “pay what you can” and seating is first come, first served.

$25 ASI members/$30 general public. Tickets available online at or call (612) 871-4907.


The exhibition is produced by Fotografiska, The Swedish Museum of Photography. The Image of Strindberg is made possible with the generous support of the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Anne Ray Charitable Trust and the Swedish Council of America.  

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