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Posthuman art project with the river Viskan and its surroundings

News: Feb 14, 2019

Photo: Theo Ågren
Photo: Theo Ågren

What kind of relationships can a river have to the plants, animals and humans that it flows by? That is a question the project leaders Theo Ågren and Thomas Laurien from HDK hope to get answered in the art project “Skimmer och härvor i Viskadalen”.

In March 2017 the Whanganui river which runs through the northern island of New Zeeland and out in the Tasman sea was given status as a legal person by the parliament in New Zeeland. The new status is the result of a struggle that the Maori people, New Zeeland’s indigenous people, fought for over 150 years. According to the Maori people’s mythology, humans are not superior in nature. The Maori people sees the forests, oceans and rivers as their ancestors that they should protect and take care of. In return nature provides the people with what they require for their spiritual and physical needs.

In the modern western society, the relationship between humans and nature has been a completely different story. Here nature often works as a depot for resources and a waste dump. Unfortunately, this was the case for the Swedish river Viskan, one of Sweden’s most polluted areas. The pollutions are a destructive heritage from the textile industry that once was thriving in the area of Sjuhärad. But there are also places around Viskan that have very high natural values.

Pilot study to make new contacts and evaluate interest

In the art project Skimmer och härvor i Viskadalen Theo Ågren and Thomas Laurien, lecturers and researchers at HDK, together with the Rydal museum, will work with people who lives along Viskan today.

- Since we have chosen a posthuman perspective, animals, plants and other stakeholders that are non-human will have central place in the project. But I can’t say how they are affected by or how their relationship to Viskan is now. That is a part of the project to learn, says Thomas Laurien.

The ongoing pilot study financed by Boråsregionen and Sjuhärads municipality aims to study the possibilities to go through with the project and create an infra structure. During the pilot study the project leaders will create bonds to associations, municipalities and other organizations that have connections to Viskan.

- For example, we want to get in touch with biologists who works at county governments along Viskan. They could help us with knowledge we don’t have, and we could also enrich their work, says Thomas.

There are two activities planned where the participants can share stories about Viskan. The first one is on the same day as Earth Hour, March 30, in Mark’s art graphic workshop in the Framnäs factory. The other one is on May 11 in the entrance to the library in Kinna.

- After the pilot study we will know if there is interest in the project. To reach a good result we need more participants, says Thomas.

Actors that already are involved are Mark’s art graphic workshop and the municipalities of Borås and Ulricehamn.

How the future for Viskan looks is hard to say. But one day, maybe it will get the same respect as the Whanganui river?

BY: Anders Åkerström

Page Manager: Carina Krantz|Last update: 11/22/2017

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