New network: Undercentralen

A secret society of civil servants, administrators and public officials, initiated in May 2024

The Swedish word “Undercentral” (roughly translated to a “Sub-centre”) is the name for a room/facility in a building that, from its location in the basement, distributes heat to the entire house.

Undercentralen deals with the both complex and rigid reality found within administrative, bureaucratic professions and highlights how ritual methods and artistic expression can constitute a form of distributed art activity: Where an extensive network of officials becomes the creators of a simultaneously secretive and fully visible work of art that can be found all over the country.

The participants belong to professional groups that have clear functions aimed at all of us citizens: employees in both public and private institutions that provide different societal services and where everyday work is characterized by administration. It can be about everything from pre-school placements to bank matters, from social insurance handling to family counseling, internet delivery to tax reporting. Here are professional groups that shape large parts of our reality, handle all official matters, interpret the texts of public directives, and decipher the politics. Groups that have significant underlying power, a power that makes an ordinary working day full of highly existential matters and depth.

Regardless of the content of an activity, there are certain common psychological phenomena within many administrative professions, and Undercentralen highlights two of these: professional stress over being responsible for the well-being of other people and powerlessness in regard to the system design of one’s own work. The project therefore initiates a movement, a community of acting officials, who in various individual ways try to invent strategies and techniques to escape the frustration that these phenomena give rise to.

The network is populated by those who feel that something is missing on an existential level. The group provides a low-intensity activity at Sweden’s office workplaces and in its home offices. Presenting a tug of war between freedom and structure, between one’s own judgment and regulations, and between emotions and logic. The tension between these poles is charged with energy: and concepts that at first glance can be seen as opposites are instead brought together. Bureaucracy and art become synonyms, giving rise to new ways of expressing oneself.

How do I join?

It is still possible to join the network and become a member of Undercentralen, a network of civil servants from different parts of the country who design and share small-scale works of art in their workplaces.

Anyone who is employed and has a job that is largely characterized by administration is welcome to participate. Practically, it is structured as a digital exchange, where small “exercises” are provided such as creative tasks, simple questions, and suggestions for interventions or observations. The documentation of these activities then gives rise to new exercises and workplace experiments.

Participation will be on a simple and playful level. If you want to participate or are curious and want to know more, send an e-mail to

The communication will be in Swedish. Participation can be either open or anonymous.

The project has financial support from Göteborg Stad