LB°24 Participants

Anja Örn

In Memory of a River, 2018, Anja Örn. Luleåbiennalen 2018.

Anja Örn (b. in Stockholm, 1972) is an artist based in Luleå.

The power of falling water is infinite, yet controllable. Northern Sweden’s wealth of moving water is what has made the country one of the world’s foremost when it comes to using clean and renewable energy. But this has a price. During the 19th century, the rivers were expanded to an industrial scale. The natural waterfalls were manipulated with dams and enormous concrete reservoirs. The lives and habitats of animals as well as humans were changed, disturbed or even eradicated. Sacred ground was cleared with modern machines. Who remembers the waterfall that was closed off, or the stream that was silenced? The artist Anja Örn lives near the Lule river – a river of enormous mass, which once billowed forth. Maps are routinely redrawn, leaving no traces of what used to be.

In Memory of a River shows Örn turning to art history to find documentation of the lost waterways – only there have images of them been preserved. But who was it that portrayed the rivers; whose gaze is the source of our collective memory? Artists of the turn the last century travelled to Sapmi to depict the great rapids and waterfalls. Artistic representations functioned as national tools of their time, but also as a last archive of memories. The National and Nordic museums in Stockholm house art and photography by, among others, Axel Sjöberg, Helmer Osslund, Olof Hermelin, Fritz von Dardel, and, finally, Lotte von Düben. Together with her husband, she travelled to the north of Norrland to photograph the region and its people. At a time when violence was tolerated in the service of a higher purpose, their gaze was a colonial one. But von Düben also directed her lens away from the people, and towards the landscape, using a stereo camera to produce three-dimensional images of the waterfalls. In her pictures, Örn sees an appeal that differs from the sublime grandeur of most depictions of nature from that time. Through film and sculptures of imaginary streams, Örn reflects on works from art history, trips to silent waterfalls and contemporary research and cartography concerning the region’s waterways.

Anja Örn (b. in Stockholm, 1972) is an artist based in Luleå.

Thanks to Berta Morata at the Department of Civil, Environmental and Natural Resources Engineering (LTU) and KKV Luleå.


In Memory of a River, 2018
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