Finally! Today Kirunatopia / In the Shadow of the Future opens as the project’s first exhibition! Our countdown ends with the last out of ten short interviews that were conducted by the curators Kim Einarsson and Brita Täljedal and published in the run-up to the exhibition: German artist Florian Zeyfang talks about the sculpture Measure Point as a marker of a change in Kiruna’s history and his video Ghost Train - a film essay on Kiruna, the mine and the landscape.
The exhibition runs until October 28 at Bildmuseet in Umeå - see you there!
A recurrent theme in your artistic practice is how transformations in technology and the development of society relate to art and other cultural expressions. Your work for Kirunatopia consists of a video and a large sculpture, a wall construction made from sawn timber in the form of a cross. Does this sculpture resemble anything that you have seen in Kiruna or anywhere else?
The idea for Measure Point grew out of a photograph I found in the archives of Borg Mesch, the photographer who documented the history of Kiruna, including portraits of the mine’s workers and directors. Mesch captured the building of the railway from Narvik to Kiruna - the Iron Ore Line - through all its stages and photographed the landscape and mountains around Kiruna in a similar manner. The huge wooden cross that he captured in one image is the starting point for balloon theodolite measurement. The balloons started from behind those walls, safe from wind turbulence.
Measure Point, as a sculpture, stands for a focus point, for the history of Kiruna, for the moment when the existence of the iron ore mine came out into the open and the land was consequently measured to become part of the international ore mining industry. Measure Point also marks the moment when what we know as science took over from other uses of the land, i.e. that of the Sami and their reindeers. It is a marker of a change in history.
Your video Ghost Train was shot during a visit to Kiruna in November 2011. You have documented the surroundings of the city with the railway, the railway station building, and the long trains of iron ore cars at the centre. Could you please comment on this choice of motif?
Ghost Train collects thoughts around the history of Kiruna, the mine, and the landscape. The situation can trigger a certain kind of fascination, haunted by the history of the land and the huge impact that mining and transport have had on the natural environment and people’s interaction with it. In the video, images of the actual trains from the Iron Ore Line between Kiruna and Narvik, together with images taken from Borg Mesch’s photographic archives, are combined to create a film essay that elaborates on associations and ideas around Kiruna, the mine, and the landscape.
The North has been a surface for all kinds of projections. The history of the activities in and around the mine, and the invention of Kiruna through the mine, has a sort of gold rush appeal to it. The creation of the eponymous ghost train in the film enabled me to mix images, thoughts, and speculations that react with the myriad other projections onto this area.
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