Rivers of Collective Memories Participatory installation, stitched and painted canvas Nordic Centre, Duluth USA, 2018
When I was invited to exhibit in Duluth USA, I wanted to create a work that would honour all the Icelandic people that moved to the west in the end of the 19thand beginning of the 20th. When creating a work reflecting on participation, I wanted to touch on the fact that in modern society I feel generations are spending too little time together. Selecting this form of a narrative enabled me to grasp the possibilities of meaning, which is what gives this work and life in general, highlighting its imaginative and poetic qualities. That gives the viewers space for interpretation and the potential to connect to their own experience of sharing knowledge. I created a map based on Albertsons Map of Duluth Minnesota since 1891. The time when many Icelandic people arrived in the USA. We can imagine they had to learn to navigate around the Duluth area looking at a copy of that map. In the video we see and hear 20 Nordic women discussing how it must have been to emigrate to Duluth at this time. We know they were welcome and most of them could find work. At the same time, they hand stitch the rivers running into the Lake Superior which is very large and could have been the only thing reminding the Icelandic people of the Icelandic see.
All the participants connected to the migrating people of today. Some presume a migrant is on the move to seek a better life. But if that person is leaving the penury and starvation in order to survive, are they a migrant or a refugee? All of the participants encouraged the viewer to use empathy when valuing and thinking of the anti-immigration response of many governments across Europe, and in America.