Walking through the main streets of downtown Uppsala you may encounter quite an unfamiliar scene. However, you’ll have to be attentive or you might just miss it. Nestled into the exterior walls of some of the city’s otherwise commonplace buildings, exists miniature worlds occupied by the most ordinary of rodents – mice.
These snapshot scenes depicting this dynamic mouse society captures its residents in moments eerily familiar to the residents here in Uppsala. If you look close enough, you may even be able to see a bit of yourself in the lives of these special Uppsalians. In one display there’s a polka dotted skirt wearing mouse haphazardly watering their plants on the balcony. In another, you can see groups of students enjoying our very own Fyris river. In the third there are mice kneading dough together; something that is sure to be reminiscent for some of those students occupying Uppsala during the pandemic’s wave of amateur bread makers.
Admittedly, it took me around three months of living in Uppsala before I first noticed the unsuspecting installations, but now that I’m familiar with their locations I’ll frequently adjust my walking route to take a quick peak and get a little hit of dopamine (especially in the winter months). These works are made by local artist Jekaterina (Katja) Pertoft whose been a resident in the city since 1999. While Katja typically is best known for her portraits, illustrations and landscapes, she established a puppet theatre in 2006 with her friend Svetlana Dmitieva named Marielunds Dockteater.
After having witnessed Pertoft’s work for the first time, I immediately felt that the work seemed comparable to something I had seen before. After a quick search online, it would appear that Pertoft’s mouse-based artworks are not alone in Sweden. In fact, I had the privilege of living in Malmö during my BA where the works of art collective Annonymouse MMX, had been on display in a number of locations. The two representations of these petite realms are distinct in that Pertoft’s works feature the daily lives of these mice in full swing, whereas Anonymouse’s work is empty of its residence and instead invite the viewer to fill the scenes with their own imagination. An additional variation between the artists is the spread of Anonymouse’s exhibits which range from Malmö and Lund to Quebec, Boston and the Isle of Man. Anonymouse’s prevalence across the globe has even picked up some pretty impressive media attention.
On my quest to determine whether this is a strictly Swedish phenomenon, I took to the internet searching for similar mouse-based art and while I came across some similar art pieces like ‘Fairy Doors’ in Australia, the only other mouse-specific endeavors I found was The Mouse Mansion. This miniature museum in Amsterdam is home to a huge collection of mice in a variety of scenes. While the Mouse Mansion is an impressive feat, I think I prefer the more scraggily looking mice here in Uppsala over their more manicured Mansion residents that appear to be either felted, sewn or a combination of the two.
What do you think? To read more about Uppsala’s Street Art you can look here.
(Non-Swedish speakers may need to use Google Translate)