The smoke would blow towards Russia

Röken skulle blåsa mot ryssen

Gallery and Project room

30 September – 16 October 2022

”The smoke would blow towards Russia” is an ongoing art project about the smelter industry Rönnskär in Skelleftehamn, Sweden by Monica Larsson and Catrin Lundqvist. Both artists originate from the region of Västerbotten, in the north of Sweden. Their grandparents Wille Varg – Larsson worked in the Arsenic area and Hilding Snus – Lundqvist was a carpenter at Rönnskär.

The exhibition is the first part of a project running over several years and consists of painting, archive photos, text, and video installations. The moving images are clips from a film in the making, directed by Monica Larsson and Catrin Lundqvist. The film photographer is Johan Granstrand and it is edited by Kersti Grunditz Brennan.

The grandfathers of the artists and other persons knowing the smelter industry well are the main characters of the project, in which both the good and bad sides of the industry are discussed. Rönnskär has created work and welfare but emissions into air and water have harmed people and the environment. How much may industrial progress cost? And how is the future shaped when new exploitation of Norrland’s resources is once again in full swing?

Mining in Boliden started in 1924 and four years later the chimney at Rönnskär was completed. It became 145 meters. At that time, there was a slogan in vogue: “Chimney we call the pipe that the smoke towards Russia will wipe”.

The smelter industry in Skelleftehamn is owned by Boliden AB, which produces 350 tonnes of copper and 18,000 kg of gold every year. Arsenic used to be a major and troublesome by-product. Lead is still an important part of production.