Sampo: Silver museum (2020)

What is the sun called?, 2020
Print on MDF

Have you seen the sun?, 2020
Print on MDF

Aesculapian snake, 2019
Polyester, jesmonite, plaster, concrete,
steel, acrylic, lacquer

Froben’s hand, 2019
Plaster, pigment

Sun, 2019
Corn starch, acrylic

, 2019
Steel, jesmonite, plaster, acrylic, bronze powder, laser engraved birch veneer

What makes us want to look beyond the stratosphere, dig deeper into the earth, program technology that are outside of our own comprehension, or even allow us to turn our backs on reality? The installation Sampo is based on the metallurgical catalogue De re metallica written by Georgius Agricolae and published in 1556. The book is one of the earliest accounts of the various stages of mining and remained the most authoritative text on the subject for almost 180 years after its publication. An image of an 18th century coin in the shape of a cogwheel found in Luleå, as well as the aesculapian snake, that appears on the title page of De re metallica are also included in Thörnqvist’s sculpture to invoke the intimate relations between nature, technology, mysticism and science.

The Silver Museum in Arjeplog contains seven permanent displays and the surgery of Einar Wallquist, the museum’s founder. Across three floors, stories from life in the mountainous region are told, from the end of the last ice age until today. The museum’s crowning glory is the largest collection of Same silver in the world. In a way, the Silver Museum represents Arjeplog’s collective memory. The Luleå Biennial integrates a number of contemporary art works into the permanent exhibition, staging a fascinating encounter between these very different types of objects. On display are sculptural works by Santiago Mostyn and Erik Thörnqvist as well as a video piece by Christian Nyampeta. They engage with the ambivalent role of the museum as both the custodian of history tasked with the taxonomy of knowledge and experiences, and an institution grown out of
a colonial logic, but also as a site for meaningful collective exchange.

Photo: Thomas Hämén