LB°24 Partners

Stadshustorget i Kiruna

Luleåbiennalen 2024 showcases site-specific artworks by artists Jenny Nordmark, Lena Stenberg and Daniel de Paula in Kiruna’s new city centre.

Kiruna, Sweden’s northernmost municipality and the traditional homeland of the Sámi, is amid one of the world's most audacious urban relocation efforts driven by ground subsidence, deformation, and expanding mining activities, with the entire town centre presently shifting approximately 3 kilometres to the east. By 2035, around 6,000 residents will have been affected by the relocation process and transitioned to new housing, and historically significant buildings have been and will be relocated, a complex process involving lifting, moving, and reconstructing structures.

At the core of these transformations is Kiruna's iron ore mine, one of the world's largest underground mines, owned by LKAB (Luossavaara-Kiirunavaara Aktiebolag), a Swedish state-owned mining company. LKAB was established in 1900 and with it, the town of Kiruna. Today, LKAB is Europe's largest iron ore producer. The town's relocation is led by LKAB with the goal of sustaining mining operations. Additionally, Europe's largest deposit of rare earth metals has been recently found beneath Kiruna. These minerals are considered crucial to the development of new technologies, as part of the industrial transition.

Kiruna's intricate urban transition promises modernised infrastructure while at the same time raising concerns about disrupting established social networks. The ongoing relocation is associated with both historical and current processes of destabilization, as the mine's inception displaced two Sámi villages from their grazing land, and its operation and expansion continues to drastically affect indigenous lands, livelihoods and lives. The mine also greatly impacts the natural environments in the surrounding area, and anyone who wishes to spend time there. The town’s rich history and the unfolding processes encapsulate and resonate with the conceptual framework of the biennial, On the threshold of 1:1.