Ön / Island

  • Illustration from Agricola's De Re Metallica, 1556

  • Installation view

The four channel video installation Ön / Island investigates an area between the city and the iron ore mines of Kiruna. Located in the very north of Sweden – 180 km beyond the arctic circle – the area has since the 16th century been a projection site for mystical nature, endless wealth due to the ore findings and enormous industrial productivity. The large scale mining started when the railway arrived around the turn of the 20th Century, leading to the founding of the city Kiruna. The mining has accelerated cince the 1950s, when the mine went underneath the ground. Today, the excavation takes place at a depth up to 1364 m, resulting in cracks and deformations on the surface. Some areas closest to the mine have already collapsed, the cracks moving towards the city with 7 cm each day. Approximately half of the city’s dwellings must be moved within the next 25 years, one of the largest city transformations in Europe.

The former industrial and residential area Ön was torn down already in the 1970s due to ground deformations and is today located on the edge of the collapsing zone, locked behind a spacious security fence. Nature has taken over and only traces of roads and building fundaments are visible between the cracks and craters on the ground.

The four monitors of the video installation show unsynchronized loops: In the upper row a remote controlled miniature airship equipped with a camera is navigated over the restricted area, casually documenting the situation. In the lower row, a remote controlled excavator is working 1000 m underground in the mining shafts, while the operator is located in the control center above ground. A voice-over text recapitulates the becoming of Kiruna and discusses the insuperable distance between the individual and the mining industry. Georgius Agricola’s writings from 1556 are quoted to get closer to the true nature of iron.

Camera: Agneta Andersson, Hans-Olof Utsi and Ingo Vetter
Speaker: Catriona Shaw
Editing: Miae Son
Sound editing: Killian Schwoon
Postproduction at University for the Arts Bremen
Produced by Goethe-Institut
Sweden 2011/12
Thank you to the Municipality of Kiruna and LKAB
Technical specifications
4 unsynchronized loops for media player, MOV_h264-files PAL
1 loop with stereo audio,
3 loops without sound
max. length 10:09 min