Sara Jordenö

Sara Jordenö (b. 1974, Sweden) lives and works in Gothenburg. She is a visual artist and filmmaker whose work is informed by discussions around authorship, agency, and subculture, and resides in the intersections between institutional critique, site-specific practice, meta-observational documentary cinema and community-based participatory art. Jordenö is a researcher and lecturer in the MFA Fine Art Program at Valand Academy, Gothenburg. She has exhibited at institutions such as: Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Bildmuseet, Umeå; the Kitchen; and MoMA PS1, New York, and her work has been commissioned by Printed Matter; MoMA PS1, New York; and Muscarnok Kunsthalle, Budapest, among others.

Diamond People, 2005–2015
Mixed media, variable dimensions; video, 20 min 46 sec loop

Courtesy of the artist; Hans Marklund; and Folkrörelsearkivet, Umeå; and produced in collaboration with Bildmuseet Umeå and Film i Västerbotten. Cinematographer: Petrus Sjövik. Editor: Christoffer Sevholt. Thanks to Katarina Pierre; Lisa Rosendahl; Ingrid Hanke; Bernt-Ola Sandström; Public Art Agency, Sweden; Valand Academy; Element Six; Robertsfors Bruksmuseum; and Robertsfors Kommun, Sweden.

Diamond People takes its starting point in Robertsfors, a small locality in Northern Sweden and the birthplace of the artist. By looking at historical processes of industrialization, Jordenö explores the symbiotic relationship between the inhabitants and the local factory. In 1953 scientists at Allmänna Svenska Elektriska Aktiebolaget (ASEA) / General Swedish Electric Company successfully synthesized diamonds, and the diamond production was moved to the factory in Robertsfors.

During the 1960s the diamond factory in Northern Sweden was bought up by De Beers, and was for many years the only South African-owned company in Sweden. This was the artist’s first place of work. A source of much controversy, the foreign ownership created a climate of deep silence in the locality. In 1985 a local pastor broke this silence, calling for a boycott and closing of the Swedish factory in solidarity with the oppressed people of South Africa. This caused a crisis in the community, which depends on the factory for its survival. The factory endured these controversies in the 1980s, but in 2015 De Beers has decided to close down the factory and move it to Ireland. The employees are being laid off permanently. They have asked Jordenö to document the fifty years of industrial history that is about to be erased, and the physical and mental processes this entails.

The Diamond People Project, 2005–2015, Installation view Hasselblad Center, GIBCA 2015. Photo: Hendrik Zeitler