What Goes On in the Darkness at Sweden’s Northernmost Biennial – 瑞典最北部的两年一度的《黑暗中的未来》

‘I am the owner of this mountain,’ says a man at the entrance to a network of underground tunnels in Norrbotten, the northernmost county of Sweden. The tunnels were built during the Cold War to protect the region’s natural riches from Soviet forces – iron ore chief among them. The attack never came, the site was decommissioned and the current owner uses the dank, freezing tunnels to farm mushrooms, mine bitcoin and provide a temporary environment for art. Presently, they house Raqs Media Collective’s installation The Blood of Stars (2017), part of the Luleå Biennial, ‘Tidal Ground’. Wandering the subterranean passages with a flashlight, I find a vitrine containing a meteor that a guide tells me is older than Earth. Like the resources that the tunnels were built to defend, it is also made of iron.


What Goes On in the Darkness at Sweden’s Northernmost Biennial - 瑞典最北部的两年一度的《黑暗中的未来》

‘Luleå Biennial: Tidal Ground’, 2018, installation view, Galleri Syster. Courtesy: Luleå Biennial, Sweden 

The Luleå Biennial began in 1991 as a festival for snow and ice sculpture. After lying dormant for five years, it has been rebooted under the curatorship of Emily Fahlén, Asrin Haidari and Thomas Hämén, and framed around the theme of darkness. During the winter months, when the biennial takes place, the sun in Norbbotten never climbs far above the horizon, but the curators have more in mind than long nights. With works by 37 artists spread across the county’s tunnels, forts, galleries and museums, ‘Tidal Ground’ illuminates a remote, strategically integral region that has often been Sweden’s blindspot.

During World War II, in order to enforce the country’s policy of political neutrality, communists were imprisoned in the region’s internment camps. (Scratch the surface, and neutrality soon reveals its biases.) Iron from local mines was also sold to the Germans to build weapons, and monetizing bloodshed is still big business. At the Konsthall in the port city of Luleå, where polar icebreakers are docked, Henrik Andersson’s slideshow Snow, Darkness and Cold (2018), documents a stretch of Norrbotten land currently leased out to foreign militaries for weapons testing. Bombs trialled here, Andersson tells me, have since been dropped on Palestine.


What Goes On in the Darkness at Sweden’s Northernmost Biennial - 瑞典最北部的两年一度的《黑暗中的未来》

Lap-See Lam, Beyond Between & Gwaí, 2018, installation view, Luleå Konsthall. Courtesy: Luleå Biennial, Sweden 

There is profit to be made from Norrbotten’s vast expanse of unsettled territory, but the landscape is far from empty. The indigenous Sami, traditionally a semi-nomadic people who inhabit the Sápmi region covering the north of Finland, Norway, Sweden and Russia, use the land to herd reindeer. The imposition of militarized zones echoes across generations. When Norway was under Nazi-occupation, the artist Britta Marakatt-Labba’s father was issued a special Sami passport permitting him to enter Sweden with his herd – a crossing laced with landmines – and a letter forbidding him from aiding the Norwegian resistance. These documents are presented in Rahkkan (Crackled) (2014), along with a sack left behind by German soldiers that Marakatt-Labba has embroidered with guns and reindeer.

The curators’ close attention to the region’s specificities has enabled them to connect Norrbotten’s history of industrialization and militarization to other places and times. In Memory of a River (2018), Anja Örn’s video tracing Swedish waterways lost to dams and reservoirs in the 19th century, is paired with Nikos Markou’s Kifissos River (2018), a photograph of an ancient river that now runs beneath Athenian motorways. For Neda Saeedi’s Garden of Eden Moving; A Petrified Tribe (2018), a concrete wall is installed inside Luleå Konsthall. On one side of the wall, archival footage of the Iranian Bakhtiari tribe herding sheep is projected; on the other are upturned carcasses and a sheep cast from sugar. Like the Sami, the Bakhtiari were nomadic, until they were forced into settling by the Iranian government in the 1960s in order to staff a newly established sugar industry.


What Goes On in the Darkness at Sweden’s Northernmost Biennial - 瑞典最北部的两年一度的《黑暗中的未来》

Neda Saeedi, Garden of Eden Moving (a petrified tribe), 2018, installation view, Luleå Konsthall. Courtesy: Luleå Biennial

A twilit trip through frozen lakes and forests transports visitors from Luleå to the Ájtte Swedish Mountain and Sami Museum in the arctic town of Jokkmokk, where artworks are nestled among museological displays. Another of Saeedi’s sheep is here, this time made from cracked clay. In a room charting Sami migration routes is Hiwa K’s video, Pre-Image (Blind as the Mother Tongue) (2017), in which the Iraqi-Kurdish artist re-traces his own route across Europe as a refugee. He navigates using mirrors attached to a pole that is balanced on his upturned face: the strange and precarious appendage a manifestation, perhaps, of looking backwards through life to a time of upheaval.

Among the most compelling of the biennial’s exhibits is a model of a building, on show at Luleå Konsthall, that once housed the city’s communist newspaper, Norrskensflamman. One night in 1940, the building was torched by the local chief of police, members of the military and an employee of a rival newspaper, killing five people. The perpetrators were convicted of damage to property. None were tried for murder. On loan from Stockholm’s Police Museum, the model attests to a shady episode in Swedish history and operates as a microcosm for ‘Tidal Ground’ as a whole. Paying attention to what goes on in the darkness, in those places considered out of sight and mind, can tell us about the priorities at the heart of national politics and the unseen violence with which they are upheld.

The Luleå Biennial 2018 runs until 17 February 2019.

Main image: Marwa Arsanios, Who is Afraid of Ideology, 2018. Courtesy: Luleå Biennial, Sweden 

Rosanna McLaughlin

Rosanna McLaughlin is a writer based in London. She is an editor at The White Review.

City Report /

Luleå Biennial
Rosanna McLaughlin
Raqs Media Collective
Neda Saeedi
Luleå Konsthall
City Report
Hiwa K.

“我是这座山的主人,”瑞典最北部的郡诺尔博滕(Norrbotten)地下隧道网络入口处的一名男子说。这些隧道是在冷战期间修建的,目的是保护该地区的自然财富免受苏联军队的侵袭,其中包括铁矿石。袭击从未发生,现场已经退役,现在的主人使用潮湿,冻结的隧道来种植蘑菇,开采比特币,并为艺术提供一个临时环境。目前,他们收藏了Raqs媒体集体的设施“星之血”(2017),这是Lule双年展“潮汐地”的一部分。我拿着手电筒在地下通道中漫步,发现一个玻璃瓶里装着一颗流星,一位导游告诉我它比地球还古老。就像修建隧道是为了防御的资源一样,它也由铁制成。installation_galleri_syster1.jpg What Goes On in the Darkness at Sweden’s Northernmost Biennial - 瑞典最北部的两年一度的《黑暗中的未来》“Lule双年展:潮汐地”,2018,安装视图,Galleri Syster。礼貌:瑞典LuleBiennial,LuleBiennial:LuleBiennial始于1991年,是一个冰雪雕塑节。在休眠了五年之后,它在艾米丽·法伦、阿斯林·海达里和托马斯·哈曼的策展下重新启动,围绕着黑暗的主题构架。在冬季的几个月里,当两年一度的展会举行时,诺伯顿市的太阳从未升到地平线以上,但馆长们想到的不仅仅是漫长的夜晚。37位艺术家的作品遍布全县的隧道、城堡、美术馆和博物馆,“潮汐之地”照亮了一个偏远的、战略上完整的地区,而这一地区往往是瑞典的盲点。第二次世界大战期间,为了执行国家的政治中立政策,共产党人被关押在该地区的拘留营里。(撇开表面不谈,中立不久就显露出其偏见。)当地矿山的铁矿石也被卖给德国人制造武器,而将流血牟利仍然是一项大生意。在港口城市Lule的Konsthall,两极破冰船停靠在那里,Henrik Andersson的幻灯片展示了《雪、黑暗和寒冷》(2018),记录了目前租给外国军队用于武器测试的一片诺尔伯特土地。安德森告诉我,这里试射的炸弹从那时起已经投向了巴勒斯坦。kh.jpg What Goes On in the Darkness at Sweden’s Northernmost Biennial - 瑞典最北部的两年一度的《黑暗中的未来》 Lap-See Lam,超越&Gwa之间,2018,安装视图,Lule Konsthall。礼貌:LuleBiennial,瑞典。从Norrbotten广阔的不稳定土地中获利颇丰,但风景远非空旷。土著萨米人,传统上是一个半游牧民族,居住在覆盖芬兰、挪威、瑞典和俄罗斯北部的萨普米地区,利用土地来放牧驯鹿。军事化区的强加给世世代代都回响。当挪威被纳粹占领时,艺术家Britta Marakatt-Labba的父亲被发给一份特殊的萨米护照,允许他和他的牛群一起进入瑞典——一个布满地雷的十字路口——和一封禁止他帮助挪威抵抗的信件。这些文件在Rahkkan(Crackled)(2014)中列出,连同一个德国士兵留下的麻袋,Marakatt-Labba用枪和驯鹿刺绣过。馆长们密切关注这个地区的特殊性,使他们能够将诺尔波特顿工业化和军事化的历史与其他地方和时代联系起来。在《纪念河流》(2018)中,安贾恩(Anja rn)的追踪19世纪被大坝和水库淹没的瑞典水道的视频与尼科斯·马库(Nikos Markou)的基菲索(Kifisso)配对。s河(2018),一幅古代河流的照片,现在流经雅典的高速公路下面。对于Neda Saeedi的伊甸园移动;石化部落(2018),在Lule Konsthall内部安装了一堵混凝土墙。在墙的一边,放映着伊朗巴赫蒂亚里部落放羊的档案录像;另一边是翻转的尸体和用糖浇铸的羊。和萨米人一样,巴赫蒂亚里人是游牧民族,直到1960年代被伊朗政府强迫定居,以便雇用一个新成立的糖业。kh_43.jpg What Goes On in the Darkness at Sweden’s Northernmost Biennial - 瑞典最北部的两年一度的《黑暗中的未来》 Neda Saeedi,伊甸园迁徙(一个石化部落),2018,安装图,Lule Konsthall。礼貌:路易斯双年展(LuleBiennial)在冰冻的湖泊和森林中穿梭的黎明之旅将游客从路易斯运送到北极城市Jokkmokk的瑞典jtte山和萨米博物馆,在那里,艺术品被安置在博物馆陈列中。塞迪的另一只羊在这里,这次是用裂开的粘土做的。在绘制萨米族移民路线的房间里,放着Hiwa K的视频《前影像》(作为母语的盲人)(2017),在这部视频中,这位伊拉克-库尔德艺术家以难民的身份重新描绘了自己穿越欧洲的路线。他用连在杆子上的镜子导航,杆子在他仰着的脸上保持平衡:这个奇怪而危险的附属物也许是向后看整个人生到动荡时期的一种表现。在这两年一度的展品中,最引人注目的展品之一是路易·康萨尔的一座建筑模型,它曾经是该市共产主义报纸Norrskensflamman的所在地。1940年的一天晚上,当地警察局长、军人和一家对手报纸的雇员焚烧了这座大楼,造成5人死亡。肇事者被判有财产损害罪。没有人因谋杀罪受审。借自斯德哥尔摩警察博物馆,这个模型证实了瑞典历史上一个阴暗的插曲,并作为“潮汐地”作为一个整体的缩影。关注在黑暗中发生的事情,在那些被视而不见和心不在焉的地方,可以告诉我们国家政治核心的优先事项以及它们所受到的看不见的暴力。2018年卢莱双年展一直持续到2019年2月17日。主要形象:Marwa Arsanios,《谁害怕意识形态》,2018。礼貌:瑞典LuleBiennial,Rosanna McLaughlin,罗莎娜McLaughlin,伦敦作家。她是《白色评论》的编辑。《城市报告》/《卢莱两年一度的罗莎娜·麦克劳林》瑞典拉斯媒体集体《内达·塞迪·卢莱·康瑟尔城市报告》Hiwa K.


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