November 21, 2017

Eka Acosta, sculptor

Friday, January 13, 2017

Fish in water

By Sorrel Moseley-Williams
For The Herald

Age: 46
Lives: Aspudden, Stockholm
Born: Buenos Aires
Education: Science faculty inNice, France

Occupation: Sculptor
Last read: Les Identités Meurtrière by Amin Maalouf
Last watched: Rogue One
Can’t live without: My iPhone and my laptop

While he lived and studied in various cities in Europe including London and Nice, Eka Acosta made his permanent home in Stockholm, where he’s lived for the past 18 years. The sculptor has two children and while the long winters can get him down, he adores being close to Sweden’s nature.

“Love took me to Sweden,” Eka said. “It’s hard to live here as it’s so far north, so cold and dark, so the Swedes travel and often meet someone abroad. In my case, I met a Swedish woman in London when I was visiting my brother. I never returned from that holiday, which was 21 years ago.

“We lived in the UK for two years and wanted a family so it was logical to move to Sweden, as it’s a paradise for families given its peace, tranquility and security. Plus, I had lived in big cities all my life and needed some peace and order.

“Lots of political refugees live in Sweden as the country opened its door in the 1970s so the majority of foreigners in Sweden are either here for love or war, which is strange.”

Fully functional

Although he is well adapted to the northern ways now, it took time for Eka to adapt to certain cultural differences such as an organised society.

“Climatic conditions ensure you are in continual movement so everything functions perfectly. Swedes are very organised and conscientious — they have to be in order to survive. Plus they don’t screw you over: it’s a generalisation, but people are more honest. There’s also a respect for nature that you don’t see much in the rest of Europe, it’s exemplary.

“But, there’s little spontaneity or imagination. Because of all this, however, everything works. If you have a health problem, everything is set up so it is sorted out fast. I just had a groin hernia, went to hospital and the next day it was sorted. I didn’t have to pay anything as the state covers it. Incredible. But there’s a million inhabitants here, not 10 million, so it’s easier to organise. There are fewer people in Sweden than there are in Buenos Aires.”

While Eka fell into sculpting, he and his vocation have proved to be a force in Europe. He says: “I had started drawing animals for one of my bosses, who saw something in it, and started to develop my 3D sculpture technique 20 years ago. I don’t use moulds, I simply have an image in my head. After so many years, I have the movement and body language in my mind. I had my first exhibition in 2003 and have since shown in France, Spain, Ibiza and Norway and Amsterdam plus I also work in set design.”

At one with nature

While Eka is now separated from his children’s mother, the family lives close to each other.

He says: “I live in Greater Stockholm, 10 minutes from the city by subway, and have always lived in Aspudden neighbourhood. I’ve moved here four times and there’s lot of nature and trees. The access to nature is direct; it’s everywhere. It’s pretty, a little town with its own life. It used to be prettier and there’s been lots of construction and the small shops have started to disappear. My neighbours are pretty cold, to be honest. The climate makes the people and they live in their bubble. It’s hard to reach a Swede’s essence because they protect their privacy and impose limits. But once you’re in, you’re in and can always count on them.”

One aspect about Stockholm that the Buenos Aires transplant adores is the contact with nature.

“My girlfriend lives close to a very old forest and we go there a lot; in summer, we swim naked in the lake, which I love, while in autumn we look for mushrooms. I love being at one with nature.

“I also practise yoga every day. It’s marvellous, and helps with my posture. As I’m freelance, I can do what I want and though I work every day, I can mix up going to the forest or going swimming.”

Daddy cool

Father of two children, the eldest of whom is now 18, Eka says they’ve suddenly realised it’s cool to have an Argentine dad.

“When I arrived in Stockholm, I needed to improve my Swedish quickly so I would speak to them in Swedish. When I split up from their mum, they lived with her and I continued speaking Swedish to save time as they didn’t always understand everything I said!

“These days, I live two blocks away from them and we see each other every day. Their mum is like a sister for me and we spend Christmas together; we have a very good relationship. But because the children live with her, they are even more Swedish! They aren’t like me, who is dramatic and Latino and everything is a soap opera! These days they understand Spanish though they have an accent speaking it. And now they realise it’s cool to speak Spanish, so they ask me to talk to them!”

With regard to friends, Eka says it’s very important to have a group to count on.

“Winter is very hard and people get depressed, myself included. The sun rises at 9am and sets at 3pm so darkness affects you a lot. People don’t get out much in winter so you stay in your bubble. So seeing people is very important.

“I have some Argentine friends and we get together to play truco. In general my friends work in the arts — musicians, other artists, film directors — and we are like one big family, French, Spanish, Chileans, Uruguayans, Swedes. When we also organise parties, we’re the same group that works together to celebrate. And you need that support because otherwise it’s very hard.”

Beides his friends and family in Argentina, Eka also misses warmth.

“Here, one feels alone. Old people, for example, die in solitude here and they aren’t found for months. So having friends and family to contain you is important as we are isolated. I often feel lonely and I need people as we are all in it together. But you can’t drop in on someone here as they have to have it in the diary and confirm that you can visit.”

As for his most Swedish characteristic, Eka says he’s more respectful and quieter.

“I’ve always been organised so I’m like a fish in water! But I do realise I’m quite Swedish inside when I visit Argentina. I’m less spontaneous, that spark has gone out a little, and I notice it at social gatherings.”



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