The Science of Confusion - The End Of An Industrial Dream - 2013
Town Notodden – An Industrial Adventure in Norway.
In 1905, the town of Notodden was the setting for a modern fairy tale. The world’s first industrial production of mineral fertilizer – with air as a raw material – started here. It happened at a time when the world needed more food, and farmers needed fertilizers to increase production. However, what is left of this history now is local pride in the form of the Museum of Local Industry, wonderful Art Nouveau style tree houses and red brick houses, but one also finds some empty post-industrial buildings that still have equipment and traces of people who worked there. Telemarksgalleri is located in one of these buildings.
At the present time, the town is growing. And among the industries located here is Sperre Company Limited, one of the leading manufacturers of deep sea diving boats. Sperre delivers customized remotely operated vehicle systems (ROV) for use in offshore waters.
When I was searching for a studio in the area, I walked through these almost empty, but beautiful buildings. I met people sorting objects and clearing locales. They gave me permission to look through the remaining items. I ended up getting some nice, old objects including several hand written journals.
In this exhibition, I present one of those inherited objet trouvé: it is a transformed register (an analogue binder) with names and addresses of people who once worked at this deserted industrial locale. I merged the names with old and recent photographs of the industrial facilities and the area. I called this work The Family of Vanishing Names. The title directs attention to names written with pens whose ink fades with years, disappearing slowly. There are ashen marks on the papers showing places where names once were before they were erased, while some names are crossed off. Other papers have notes like: “has moved”, “got another job” or “died”. This register is thus a visual testimony to the memory of the people who worked here. Some people are now gone, and exist only as words in this family of vanishing names.
This is (was) the Old Testament of the Bible in Norwegian. These days, having lost its reverence, this sacred book is easy to find in second hand shops or even flea markets. This one I decided to use in “an experiment”. I took two pages of each chapter and cut them into thin strips, following the line between sentences. I then placed each chapter in a small lab bottle and closed. In total, I created 39 pieces. Each piece is labelled with the title of the Old Testament chapter from where the strips come.
It was not an easy task mentally. Why did this process of cutting a book feel like playing with fire? Many stories in the Bible “burn” when one reads them. Yet there was something different disturbing me: it was a little child’s memories of the story of Cain and Abel and The Massacre of the Innocents which adults taught us during catechism. The stories were scary for the child I was then, but one day I understood that they are reproduced and played on the stage of our everyday reality, time and again.
It is possible to read fragments of sentences through the glass of the bottles, but it makes almost no sense.
In this exhibition, I also hung four thermometers over this transformed Bible. This scenographic installation resembled a laboratory, where research on The Bible is ongoing.
Why measure the temperature? Do the thermometers control the stability of temperature or wait until the Bible cools down? Is the Bible in a kind of incubator? What is expected to hatch out of these bottles? Does this experiment promise new life? Can words become Life? Are these words still alive or are they just part of wastepaper? What is the purpose of this experiment? Can we learn something about the Bible and those who created it? Or, maybe, just about our nature and fears of it?
I have also used the Bible experimentally in another work “Bible transformed. Language Became Form of Life”, which you can see under - Bible Transformed 02.
Bible Transfored 02
The end of Industrial Dream - photo documentation of exibition
Old industry of Hydro (iPhone documentasjon)
Bible Transformed 02 - book